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Hollywood has long maintained a fascination with those who dwell in the shadowy world of espionage. Spies make for great cinematic heroes, but they don't all come in the same shape or size. Two of the most instantly recognizable silver screen secret agents are Matt Damon's David Webb a.k.a Jason Bourne, and the constantly re-cast, suave British agent, James Bond. Although Bond had his most recent moment in the spotlight this past fall with the release of Spectre, Jason Bourne will soon join him when Damon returns to the role in Paul Greengrass' Jason Bourne later this month. Everyone has their favorite of the two, and Damon seems to prefer Bourne to Bond for some fairly compelling reasons.
Speaking with GQ, Matt Damon drew sharp comparisons between Jason Bourne and James Bond to explain why he prefers the former to the latter. He said:
I like Bourne better than Bond. Bourne has today's values; Bond has the values of the 1960s. Daniel's Bond has upgraded him and brought him more into the present, but, classically, that character is a misogynist who likes swilling martinis and killing people and not giving a shit. Whereas Jason Bourne is a serial monogamist --- and he's tortured by the things he's done and feels empathy and compassion for other people. And Bourne would obviously win in a fight.
Of course, he has a certain degree of bias because he actually portrays the character of Jason Bourne, but Matt Damon admits to having a preference for the amnesiac assassin because he feels far more grounded in the modern world. In Damon's eyes, James Bond's entire persona seems antiquated and almost cartoonish in how he can drink, womanize and kill with complete impunity. By contrast, Jason Bourne is a character that comes across as a more realistic human being because he carries the weight of his pretty bad life with him wherever he goes.
This is a notion that even the James Bond franchise has picked up on in recent years. The 2012 007 adventure Skyfall pretty much based its entire thematic premise upon the idea of James Bond and 00 agents as relic from a bygone era. Behind the scenes, even Daniel Craig has stated that he doesn't have a particular fondness for the actual character of James Bond because of his inherent misogynistic tendencies and generally less than likable persona.
We also have to consider the fact that the Bond franchise owes an insane debt to the popularity of the Bourne movies. Many assumed that the 007 series might finally come to an end after the terrible reception Die Another Day received, but the increased popularity of the gritty, Bourne-style eventually seeped into the Daniel Craig era of Bond movies and revitalized the once-defunct super spy.
All that being said, perhaps that's part of the reason people like James Bond so much. Sure, he's a less realistic character who can often come across like a caricature, but he also presents a hyper-stylized version of the espionage world that only exists in movies. Is it possible that there is room for both of these silver screen icons to deliver similar types of thrills in drastically different fashion? I personally think so, but that's a question with no simple answer.
Whether or not you agree with Matt Damon and his comparison of these two spy movie icons, you have got to admit that his opinions on the subject are fascinating. Make sure to check the action icon out when he once again steps into the boots of Mr. Bourne when Jason Bourne hits theaters later this month on July 29.