Bond obsessives need only apply!
I love the idea of working chronologies for series of novels and films. I think I got that from reading the appendices to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
Indiana Jones has it easy – he and the other characters simply age in real time. He opposes the idea that the hero is always in his prime, as with the constant rebooting of superheroes such as Batman, whose birth years are shifted forwards so that they remain young and relevant.
In 2006 the Bond producers finally faced up to the problem and created a new character (brought to life by Daniel Craig), and let him inherit the name James Bond and made him earn the 007 code.
Prior to 2006, is it possible to put the Eon Bond movies into a working chronology?
I’ve read different theories, such as the Wold Newton universe of Philip José Farmer, or the idea that James Bond is a code name for different agents.
This is what I have so far:
Sean Connery was born in 1930; Roger Moore in 1927. George Lazenby was younger but I’ll overlook that.
1930 would be a nice round number for movie Bond’s birth (it was 1920 or 1924 in Fleming’s novels).
The events of each film appear to take place in the year that the film was released, so Bond’s first adventure is Dr. No
Between 1962 and 1985 (A View to a Kill
) Bond and those around him age in real time on screen.
In these years ‘M’ is Vice Admiral Sir Miles Messervy. He is replaced by Vice Admiral Hargreaves. ‘Q’ is Major Boothroyd. Miss Moneypenny is always played by Lois Maxwell.
For continuity, near the end of OHMSS ‘M’ mentions the bullion job of ’64 (Goldfinger).
In For Your Eyes Only
(1981) Bond visits the grave of his wife, Theresa Bond, who died at the end of OHMSS. The gravestone reads 1943-1969 (the year OHMSS was released). So Bond would be 51-54 depending whether Connery or Moore’s year of birth is used.
The change of Bond’s features can either be overlooked, or explained by Blofeld-style plastic-surgery, which was apparently a suggested idea when Lazenby took over from Connery. Complete face-changing was shown to possible in Die Another Day
Unless Lazenby’s quip to the camera about “the other fellow” is taken as a joke to the audience, it could imply that Bond is a code name for different men. However, the gravestone and other references and connections throughout the films still suggest strongly that between 1962 and 1985 Bond is always the same character. Roger Moore was 58 when he retired from the role.
The real problems begin with Moore’s retirement, and the introduction of the younger Timothy Dalton (b.1946) and Pierce Brosnan (b.1953).
It would be simple to at this stage say that Bond is a code name. Yet there are still connections to the Bond of 1962-1985: such as the reference in Tomorrow Never Dies
(1997) to Bond’s parents dying in a climbing accident (which is the original back story). In the same film ‘M’ calls him a relic of the cold war. And Bond quips in reference to his past escapades: “That’s the trouble with the world today. No one takes the time to do a really sinister interrogation any more. It’s a lost art.”
Time has moved on, with the retirement of Vice Admiral Hargreaves and the introduction of Barbara Mawdsley (Judi Dench) as ‘M’. Major Boothroyd’s ‘Q’ retires make way for his assistant (John Cleese). Miss Moneypenny is played by two younger actresses, implying that ‘Miss Moneypenny’ is a code name for the personal secretary to whoever is in the role of ‘M’.
Connections that make Dalton and Brosnan to be the same Bond who was born in 1930-ish are the reference to Bond’s marriage and the return of Felix Leiter as played by David Hedison (b.1927), in Live and Let Die
(1973) and License to Kill
(1989). All other incarnations of Felix Leiter, in this theory have to be assigned to agents using a code name – in Diamonds are Forever
(1971) Bond doesn’t recognize Leiter.
However, in License to Kill
Bond takes the attack on Leiter and his wife very personally, linking this Bond back to 1973.
So, the problem remains, if the Bond of 1962 is the same man as in Die Another Day
(2002), why is he younger than in 1985?
Just as the plastic surgery wasn’t referenced on film, so his presumed rejuvenation wasn’t either. Bond is a fantasy world where science is far more developed than it is in the real world. Bond, being an iconic super-agent, must have undergone some kind of gene therapy.
Daniel Craig’s Bond cannot fit into this theory, and must remain as a continuation of the series, with Bond as a different man. Craig’s Bond was born in 1968, and he takes over under Barbara Mawdsley’s ‘M’ as a replacement for the James Bond of 1962-2002.
The US agent code named ‘Felix Leiter’ is now even of a different race.