No Time To Die brought Daniel Craig's tenure as James Bond to an end, and now our attention has turned to what comes next for the 007 franchise. Will they cast a new Bond? Will television spin-offs follow? A young James Bond?
We have spent a fair few column inches going over who should play the next James Bond, listing multiple potential candidates, but there remains a question over whether they should continue with another James Bond at all. Could the producers hire a new lead? There are a few possibilities that we're going to run down. Before we do, however, let's preface this by saying that we're heading into major spoiler territory for No Time To Die...
Warning: the following contains major spoilers for the No Time To Die ending. We're talking massive spoilers! Turn back now if you haven't already witnessed Craig's last Bond movie.
Bond 26 and beyond...
It's a fond farewell (or is that Bond farewell?) to Daniel Craig's Bond, who dies at the end of No Time To Die. Those iconic 007 numbers now belong to Lashana Lynch's Nomi, who could potentially continue as the franchise's new lead.
Just imagine: they announce Bond 26, but instead of featuring a new James Bond at the center, it's the adventures of Nomi and MI5. That would be a serious change for the franchise, but not an unwelcome one. Nomi has the steady hand of Bond, can deliver a good one-liner ("What time is it? Time to die!"), and, during the course of No Time To Die, learns to be a bit more off-the-books.
Craig's Bond era was defined by its continuity, each movie picking up where the last one finished. The producers may well want to keep that going and introducing a new character called James Bond could potentially dismantle the world they built through the last five movies.
Speaking to GamesRadar+ and Total Film before the release of No Time To Die, Lynch said of the future of James Bond: "This shift that the franchise has gone through, I've come in right at the perfect time to say, 'Look, this is an example. Everyone else, other franchises, other filmmakers, lead by this example,' because this is done so well, that I think steering away from this kind of strength, with these kinds of nuances, would be a shame. I'd like to see a continuation of this, which will be done in this franchise, but across the industry."
Having Nomi be at the center of Bond 26 would therefore make sense from a continuing story perspective, but may upset James Bond fans who are... well, fans of James Bond. They may not want a new character in the lead.
With that in mind and the potential search for a new James Bond beginning in 2022, there's every chance that the iconic character will return in the future. So, how does the franchise move forward with a new Bond? There are a few options.
We could see the continuity of the Craig era continue to develop, but with a new actor playing Bond. Perhaps "James Bond" is just a code name, and a new actor takes the mantel from Craig's character? That way, Ralph Fiennes (M), Ben Whishaw (Q), Naomi Harris (Moneypenny), and Lynch (007) could all remain in their roles, but they're training up the new Bond. This could also make every former Bond actor exist in the same universe, they just hand over the James Bond name.
The passing of the James name, though, may not quite fly with audiences. Plus, continuing the current Craig era may simply be too much baggage for the franchise.
There's another way the series could keep the same Q, M, and Moneypenny, but cast a new Bond. Simply just do exactly that: have the new Bond surrounded by familiar actors, but the world is completely new – a soft reset for the series that doesn't acknowledge the events that came before. That's essentially what happened every other time a new Bond was introduced, so why not now?
Well, one reason for this not working is that Craig's era did put an emphasis on continuity, and having those same actors return and not acknowledge the old Bond may be disorientating.
Considering No Time To Die literally blows up Bond, there's another approach to Bond 26 that could work: reset everything. Do away with everything that featured in Craig's Bond movies – burn everything to the ground and start again. Cast a new Bond, Q, M, and Moneypenny. Maybe even have a younger Bond who's in training and build up the franchise afresh. That would mark a serious new phase for the series but would leave any new Bond actor with the least baggage of all the options.
Finally, there's the fact that Amazon has bought MGM, the studio that has produced recent Bond movies with Eon. Could we see a Bond TV series on streaming services? Perhaps a series that follows Nomi, or Moneypenny, or Q's date nights?
"We make films. We make films for the cinema," longtime Bond producer Barbara Broccoli told Total Film. "That's what we do."
Michael G. Wilson, who has been an executive producer or producer on every James Bond movie since Moonraker, added: "We've resisted that call for 60 years."
It, therefore, looks like Bond will continue on the big screen. Whether it will be Nomi as the lead, a new James Bond surrounded by familiar faces, or a completely fresh start remains to be seen. While we wait to find out, why not check out our piece on the best James Bond movies, ranked!