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James Bond has been a part of the cinema tapestry for over fifty years, since 1962's Dr. No. Over the years, many actors have portrayed the British spy, including Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan and the legendary Sean Connery. Since 2006, Daniel Craig has played the MI6 agent, delivering two of the truly great films in the franchise, Casino Royale and Skyfall. But with Daniel Craig's time in the role seemingly nearing its end, there are major questions about who will next inhabit the role and where the franchise will go from here. Many have called for Idris Elba to assume the mantle, but the British actor had his own thoughts about what the franchise needs to do with the character, saying:
It could be a woman. It could be a black woman. It could be a white woman. I think that character? Everybody would like to see them do something different with it.
Idris Elba has been many a fan's dream casting for James Bond for years, but in his comments to Variety, he seems in favor of a drastic change and seeing a woman take on the role. Having a woman, of any race, take on the character would immediately be a stark departure from what came before. While this can of course devolve into a debate about whether gender and race are intrinsic to the character of James Bond, I think that Idris Elba's point here is that the franchise needs to evolve. We have seen fifty years of white guys playing the super spy, and things can get a bit stale without some sort of reinvention.
For some fans, James Bond has to be a white British dude, otherwise he's not Bond. But up until Daniel Craig, Bond had to be dark-haired. Bond wasn't blond until he was, and we got some of the best 007 movies ever out of it. Perhaps there is a middle ground to be reached where a woman or non-white actor could assume the 007 designation, but not be named James Bond. While the studio probably wants to cast a younger actor to be James Bond for the next decade after Daniel Craig, I would personally still love to see a one-off with Idris Elba in the role. But no doubt there are prominent movie or TV actresses out there who could do something interesting with the character. I think the main thing is that the franchise needs to shake things up and do something different.
While the debate over who should play the next 007 continues to rage on, we are still waiting to hear what will happen with Bond 25. After months of staying quiet, Daniel Craig finally confirmed he will be playing the character one more time, but where the franchise goes after that is anyone's guess. We've had goofy Bond movies and gritty Bond movies, bad films and great ones, but we've only had white dudes in the role. In order to stand out and feel fresh and exciting, perhaps a drastic change is like Idris Elba suggested is just what the franchise needs. Maybe just bringing on a name like Christopher Nolan or Denis Villeneuve to direct will be enough to make the franchise feel new and exciting. But as Daniel Craig prepares to hang up his Walther PPK, these are all conversations worth having so James Bond can remain relevant for another fifty years.