Toronto Mike

James Bond VS. Daniel Craig: How One Actor Changed the Franchise

When thinking of Daniel Craig as James Bond, one thing can be said for certain: it was an era, and it was beautiful. One of the things that made Craig’s Agent 007 special is his quite realistic vulnerability. And the thing is that it’s not only about Bond movies – this has become a major trend for action movies.

As blockbusters started to transition to hiring serious actors instead of just “movie stars,” – and you may recall Christian Bale’s Batman, who was a rather realistic human being, who could make mistakes and get hurt (by the way, Bale turned down the opportunity to play Bond). So, when the franchise set out to look for a new actor that would’ve taken on its leading character, the team clearly recognized the change of the landscape and needed an actor that would be able to pack a persuasive punch and deliver a plausible act. And there couldn’t be a better timing for that. Even though the Bond franchise is huge and spans from movies, video games and even casino slots, at the moment Pierce Brosnan left, it was on its low point.

Moving Away from the ‘Macho’ Bond

This doesn’t mean that previous actors that played James Bond weren’t good. On the contrary, this change essentially led to Craig getting more script, room, and freedom to build on his character, which allowed him to go far beyond the omnipresent “Bond. James Bond” phrase. Daniel Craig provided the franchise with a character, who had to solve a riddle of remaining ruthless assassin while not succumbing to complete sociopathy. And while previous iterations of Agent 007 could’ve just slept around, proving their sensibility and masculinity, in the 21st century, things aren’t this easy for action movie heroes anymore.

It seems that Daniel Craig had actually grasped this issue and tried to not just follow the script but to essentially reform the character, and it looks like he succeeded. Craig’s Bond faces challenges while building his relationships provide depth to the character, leaving his famous smirk behind in his past iterations.

Building a More Relatable Agent 007

In terms of physicality, Craig is rather different from previous Bonds, even considering blonde hair. But this new look gave James Bond a sense of soul and personality. Let’s be honest: until Daniel Craig came about, Bond wasn’t really a perceptible person, so the viewer didn’t actually empathize with him and just followed his adventures without any deep emotional investment. What Craig did was make the viewers care about the character as a person. And it’s really strange and even funny how a beloved character like James Bond that has been around since the early 1960s had so little depth to him. The reality is that it was such an era when all the action movie star fans wanted from him as cars, gadgets, guns, quips, and girls in a simple plot with a silly stereotypical villain. For example, Sean Connery’s Bond was famous for wearing $134,000-worth Rolex watches, while Pierce Brosnan’s version drove a 2002 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish that cost some striking $5,4 million in Die Another Day.

In Craig’s version of the character, we can see genuine pain. This is the version where we can see that this buff dude that can snap you in two with just one touch is actually a seriously damaged person. While watching Craig’s Bond, you start noticing that he is an assassin not because he likes it, but rather because this is just the job he ended up with and the one that he must do with perfection in order to remain alive and protect the ones he loves. As soon as he runs across someone, who can get under this hard shell, the viewer sees there’s a more intelligible and relatable person who’s far more than his job.

Changing the Franchise Once and for All

It’s not that each Bond film with Craig is perfect. But whatever issues they may have, none of them are about Daniel Craig. He’s always committed to the role, creating a hypnotic on-screen presence and having interesting interactions with other characters. Whoever takes on the Bond mantle next will have to deal not just with the weight of the franchise but with that of Craig’s legacy, which seems to be even more obliging.

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