It’s a long and storied tradition of the Bond franchise to display a blatant disregard for continuity. Sometimes this happens in small ways - the DB5 in Skyfall was certainly not the same car Bond won in Casino Royale, Sean Connery interacting with three different Felix Leiters in as many years. And sometimes continuity is ignored in larger ways - after meeting and battling Blofeld in You Only Live Twice, Bond meets him again in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the two characters have clearly never met or even laid eyes on each other before.
I’ve always dug that about the series - the only story that matters is the one happening between the open and close of the film. That attitude doesn’t really fly today. Viewers need to know how everything fits together, and how everything fits into a larger, shared universe. This kind of prioritizing gets you crazy shit like the “James Bond is a code name” theory, and Leonard Nimoy showing up in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek, reassuring 40 year-old men that all the adventures they loved from the franchise STILL HAPPENED; this is just an ALTERNATE REALITY. Thick-headed, wrongheaded fealty to matchy-matchy continuity gums up the storytelling machine and bogs everything down.
That’s my take, anyway. As such, I was positively giddy at the idea of the Bond producers walking away from the DOA Quantum storyline from 2008’s Quantum Of Solace. Never mind that they punted what should have been an amazing story (James Bond Vs The Illuminati! Come on!). Never mind they scrapped a cliffhanger ending involving Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) getting the drop on Bond. It just tickled me to think we still had one franchise that wasn’t going to let its fanboy tail wag the dog. Add to the fact that they hung a moniker on their aborted villain club that would forever connect it to the title of the second biggest perceived misstep in the franchise, and I was sure we’d never hear from Quantum again.
But wait! Here comes Christensen with the quickness, telling a Danish website (within hours of today’s press announcement for SPECTRE) that Mr. White, operating in the shadows of both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, would be returning to the story in the upcoming 007 adventure. Taking Christensen at his word, this means that Quantum and SPECTRE are connected or will be interacting in some way in 2015’s SPECTRE. And I think that kind of sucks.
It sucks mostly because it’s something fans expected. Continuity first! Loose ends must be tied up! Bleh. It also sucks because it's something fans dreamt up independently. I don’t really want to go to the movies to see things fans can come up with. I don’t need to be surprised from front to back; I just don’t really want to see things that I could have dreamt up myself. There are more objective reasons this is a bad idea, though. If we’re going back to the books, it should be pointed out that SPECTRE was a syndicate of about 24 men. It was not some vast network of evildoers of which Quantum might be but one branch (or tentacle if you like). SPECTRE was a small, focused group of assholes engaged in criminal plots designed to fill their coffers. So for SPECTRE to swallow up Quantum, or destroy Quantum, or to morph from Quantum, could mean we’re getting the goofy-ass version of SPECTRE, and I kind of hope we’re not. Daniel Craig’s three Bond films, if nothing else, have gone back to Fleming in interesting ways, and it’d be cool to see them crack SPECTRE in a similar fashion.
Of course, it’s possible that Jesper Christensen is like that old couple from Glengarry Glen Ross. Maybe he rang up the press after today’s announcement because he just likes to talk to reporters. He sure liked talking to them in 2010, when he said “Today, I admit that I regard [Casino Royale] and [Quantum of Solace] as really shit.” Did he change his tune since then? Would grudge-holdin’ Eon Productions even let him come back after that crack? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
Who knows, maybe It could all work brilliantly. I just have a hard time swallowing that anyone at Eon, or the moviegoing public at large, is so concerned with wrapping up any “unfinished business” from Quantum Of Solace that they’re going to spend another film on it. A popular theory gaining traction today is that the rise of SPECTRE (bullet dodged on THAT title, by the way) has to do with Bond producers hoping to tap into the popularity of the Marvel Universe by resurrecting its own canonical shadow organization. But does anyone really think Hydra is the reason the Marvel movies are kicking so much ass at the box office?