WARNING: Possible-to-probable Skyfall spoilers ahead.
Earlier today I talked about the old-timers EON embracing social media and diving into the world of viral marketing headfirst, with an online presence that extended beyond a simple URL to include Twitter, Youtube and Facebook. They'll be tested in these new waters rather quickly, as online rumors surfaced hours ago that Ralph Fiennes would in fact be replacing Judi Dench as M in Skyfall. Is this just fan speculation run wild after Fiennes' sideways mention of playing a "government agent"? Movieweb doesn't seem to think so, and claims someone very inside has told them Fiennes is taking over for Dench. As a part-timer in this world of online gossip, I don't know how much stock to put in Movieweb's story, but if it's true it's a suggestion that EON is thinking long-term. With the casting of Fiennes, not even ten years older than Craig, coming shortly after casting a 31 year-old as the new Q, it seems Eon is looking to build a solid foundation for the next decade of their franchise.
Keeping Dench for the last two films was a sticking point for a lot of fans; she was literally the only vestigial remnant of Brosnan's run, and continuity-obsessed folks didn't get why they were keeping her. Across two films, the dynamic bewteen her M and Craig's Bond was mined well (or at least thoroughly), and anyone arguing there's more to be done there is hanging onto nostalgia. So will they kill her or give her some dignified retirement, from which she can pop up her head for annoying cameos going forward? To safeguard against the latter, let's hope for the former.
Fiennes as M? Well, for a few years I'd been banging the drum that Dench should be assassinated, and that the new M should be "a grizzled badass who, 30 years ago, could have BEEN Bond." I was hoping for a Terence Stamp or a Pete Postlethwaite. If this story isn't bullshit, it seems they went with my plan but, attention spans being what they are, dialed it back about 20 years. I still say Terence Stamp would have been an incredible M.