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How Jason Bourne Ended Up Affecting James Bond

Jason Bourne on the phone with James Bond

One of the most unintentional feuds that could have ever sprung up in this still-young century of ours is the debate over who’s better: Jason Bourne or James Bond? That said, what’s an undeniable fact is that whether some would like to admit it or not, the revamping of Daniel Craig’s era of 007 movies feels like a response to how the Bourne series reignited audiences' interest in espionage. Director Paul Greengrass can’t help but admit that the difference is absolutely stunning.

Recently interviewed for Empire’s Heroes issue, Paul Greengrass was asked about some earlier remarks he’d made pertaining to the James Bond series, when compared to his efforts on The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. Responding to this remembrance, Paul Greengrass updated his thoughts thusly:

To be clear, whatever my feelings expressed then towards the character, they were not expressed towards the franchise. Good for them. It’s interesting that when Jason Bourne came on the scene, I think it was a bit of a wake-up call for James Bond. But my word, how well they’ve responded since. So fair play to them – they shoved my comments down my throat!

Even the most loyal James Bond fan has to admit that when it comes to these two franchises, 2002 was a pretty historic year… and history was in the favor of The Bourne Identity. Considering that Die Another Day was the 007 installment that was directly compared against Matt Damon’s first outing as Jason Bourne, the widely panned final film of the original Jams Bond continuity lost that particular battle soundly.

This is probably why, in that earlier Empire interview from March 2006, Paul Greengrass had the following thoughts on Bourne versus Bond:

I think there’s a big difference between James Bond and Jason Bourne. I think James Bond is the secret agent who likes being a secret agent and likes killing people. He’s a misogynist, an old-fashioned imperialist, and Jason Bourne is an outsider on the run and he’s one of us and he’s fighting against them, I think. That’s the profound difference, and that’s why I like Bourne.

Considering that was a mere eight months before Daniel Craig would crash onto theater screens for the first time as 007 in Casino Royale, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect for such a comment to be made. James Bond was about to have his theatrical revival, but it hadn’t come yet. So yeah, compared to Pierce Brosnan’s final turn in the series, Bourne was better.

The success of The Bourne Identity and The Bourne Supremacy brought Bond back like a charm, giving the franchise some inspiration as to where it needed to go in order to rejoin the world of the living. Like any good sportsman, seeing these improvements help James Bond films bloom into the product they are today, Greengrass has tipped his hat to the improvements the modern era has taken on.

Here’s to the potential of plenty more friendly competition, as No Time To Die opens in theaters on November 25, and fans are still hoping that, maybe, Jeremy Renner and Matt Damon can unite and make Bourne franchise history.

Mike Reyes
Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.