Are the 007 Producers Pondering A Bondverse?
Last Friday, Jeff Sneider of The Tracking Board had this to say:
I've heard the Broccolis have caught Universe Fever and would love to explore other corners of the Bond franchise... simultaneously.— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) June 23, 2017
Whether that's a trend worth chasing or not (Marvel and Star Wars aside, are any of these studio-bred “universes” panning out?), could Eon Productions, which seems to keep its dance card perennially full just trying to get the next Bond film off the ground, really be planning a series of spin-offs set in the world of 007? Is this some move to stave off another reboot once Daniel Craig packs it in for good? Fans over 30 might recall that a similar plan for Die Another Day's undercover NSA agent Jinx stalled out early in the process back in 2002. But this is a new era, and today's continuity-obsessed audiences might be more receptive of a matching set of spin-offs.
I’m highly skeptical that this will come to pass, but as a fan of the franchise with no real Bond 25 news to report, I humbly offer these suggestions for opening up the Bondverse.
Moneypenny: Second Shift. As we all know, the current 007 reboot introduced a gun-toting, badass reimagining of M's secretary Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) - and promptly stuck her back behind a desk. She didn’t stay there long, saving Bond’s life in Skyfall and lending a hand whilst off the clock in Spectre, and you could almost see the film’s writers regretting the sidelining of Harris’ quite capable Eve Moneypenny. We posit a sort of Moneypenny After Dark, in which she maintains her daytime facade of being M's gal Friday, while putting her formidable field skills to use in other, more clandestine ways. (Maybe she's shadowing 00s on missions, keeping them alive a la that Macau casino scene in Skyfall?)
Agent Mansfield. Fans are always clamoring for a 007 period piece. Our suggestion: give it to them via a Cold War-set prequel film detailing the adventures of one Agent Olivia Mansfield - the cunning, ruthless MI6 agent who would go on to become M herself. This spin-off reclaims the sexy, swinging '60s as an equal opportunity playground. Casting is firmly down to two options: Natalie Dormer or Emily Blunt.
Q Branch. When Ben Whishaw debuted as Bond's new Quartermaster in Skyfall, one fun side effect was Tumblr exploding with Q fan art of all lusty varieties. Significant, because where the Bond franchise's core appeal has long been to fathers and sons of a certain age, the series widely misses that YA-to-early 20s "shipping" crowd. A diverse team of adorable Brit nerds using their wits instead of guns to save the day could crack open a whole new market for the series. (And think of how this could expand the clothing product placement!)
Felix Leiter, Private Eye. As any Ian Fleming fan can tell you, Agent Felix Leiter was officially with the CIA for just the first two Bond books. In Live and Let Die he was fed to a shark and, sans an arm and a leg, he joined the Pinkertons. The CIA would haul him into service now and again, but whatever his affiliation, he was always eager to join Bond in the fray. The idea of giving Felix center stage, whoever plays him, is a fan favorite. And rightly so: there’s a lot to mine in the character of a grizzled crime fighter who is struggling to cope with a newly acquired physical disability. (Coincidentally, there’s a recent comic book miniseries which did just that.)
The Bond Girl Support Group. As 007 kills and fucks his way through the world, he leaves a lot of casual sexual partners in his wake. While a select few are left smiling, countless others are left emotionally shattered and devastated by their brief encounter with the gentleman spy. Together they learn to heal and grow, and to live with the fact that while nobody does it better, there are plenty of dudes out there who do it without getting you killed. (Think Under the Tuscan Sun but with like eight Diane Lanes. It could work.)
Untold Tales Of The 00 Section. Here’s where this shared universe plan could get really crazy. Imagine a feature-film anthology of interconnected stories, each chapter concerning a different 00 taking point on a different leg of a mission. Not only is it a chance to shake things up in the casting department and open up the format a bit, but latter-day film viewers who crow that modern franchises “have no stakes, because you know Bond/Batman/John McClane isn’t going to die” can get their rocks off watching a slew of new 00s carry out adventures while legitimately risking the long dirt nap. Everybody wins!
Those are our pitches for an expanded universe Bond spin-off. What are yours? Sound off in the comments and I'll send the best one a dumb Bond-related thing in the mail.