MI6 explores the possibilities of Casino Royale's
concept and how it may be viewed in the annals of
the Bond canon.
Prequel, Reboot Or Retcon?
29th October 2006
Much has been written about the seeming "reboot" of
the James Bond franchise as Daniel
Craig is ushered in to the
famous tuxedo in Casino Royale, a film that shows the birth of
Bond as we know him today.
But why take the most successful film franchise back
to the beginning? It's a popular trend in Hollywood these
with the "Batman", "Superman" and "Spider-Man" franchises
all revisiting the roots of their characters. But unlike
the aforementioned super heroes, not a lot seemed wrong with
007 - from a financial perspective at least - "Die
Another Day" was the franchise's biggest box office earner
taking over $400 million globally.
"I'll tell ya, it's not something your partners at
the studio relish — when you're coming off the biggest
one ever and you tell them you're gonna break the mold," co-producer
Michael G. Wilson said in a recent interview.
it's the right way to go. Who knows if it'll make as much
"No space stations with lasers on
them, at least not for a few years" - writer Neal Purvis
on Casino Royale
Back To Basics
As has happened before in the Bond canon, the
new film had to take a dramatic departure from its previous outing.
years since Bond first appeared on the big screen in 1962, the
series has followed a cycle of the featured technology becoming
ever more prevalent, sharply followed by a back-to-basics approach
resetting the franchise. The three pinnacles of high technology
in the series, “You Only
Live Twice”, “Moonraker” and “Die
Another Day”, were all succeeded by a down to earth adventure,
and Daniel Craig’s debut outing as 007 in “Casino
Royale” continues the cycle with a gritty thriller where
Bond relies on his wits and charm rather than ejector seats,
x-ray glasses or jetpacks. The much criticised invisible Aston
Martin "Vanish" in "Die Another Day" was
the point of no return for Wilson, who explained, "you tend
to start drifting. We got a little too fantastical. We needed
to re-engage the audience."
Her Majesty's Secret Service" and "For
Your Eyes Only" before, "Casino Royale" brings
Bond back to reality, with the opening sequence setting
the concept for the whole film.
"To set the tone,
we wanted to start with something visceral and dynamic,
and it ended up being a foot chase over the tops of buildings," says
co-writer Robert Wade. "It shows him as raw and explosive,
rather than a smooth operator." So no invisible cars
this time? "And no space stations with lasers on them," says
Neal Purvis, Wade's writing partner. "At least not
for a few years."
To bolster Bond’s return to his
literary roots in an adaptation of Ian
debut 007 novel, Academy-award winning screenwriter Paul
Haggis (“Crash”, “Million Dollar Baby”)
was brought in to polish the script and strengthen the
relationships between the characters.
Media coverage dubbed
the production “Bond Begins” when director
Martin Campbell revealed the film would show 007 earning
his licence to kill at the beginning of his MI6 career.
Evolution Of An Agent
For fans of the twenty official films to
Royale" will offer explanations and backstory to some of
007's most famous trademarks: the Aston
Martin DB5, the Vodka
Martini, the double-o licence to kill, and the affairs with 'unobtainable'
So as not to confuse long term fans and irregular
cinema-goers alike, the film will use well known tricks to tell
Bond's backstory. "We
have an opening sequence that is filmed in black and white, which
is not to say this is old. It is just to say, 'go with us on
this one. This is from the beginning,'" Craig explained.
The character the audience will first meet in "Casino Royale" will
not be the suave and smooth finished article though, as the film's
story is as much about defeating terrorist financiers as it is
about the development of Bond's character to the world's most
famous secret agent we all know and love. Bond will be "a
grittier, tougher, darker kind of guy", Wilson explained.
Rest assured though, by the end of the two hours and twenty minute
epic adventure, James Bond IS 007, using his own famous introduction
and the twang of the theme music emphasising the arrival of the
Prequel, Reboot Or Retcon?
So who is correct? Is "Casino Royale" a
prequel, reboot, or retcon? The former may be the most commonly
accepted term used by the
media coverage to date, as the story harks back to the beginning
of Bond's career - but in modern times as opposed to the
story's 1950's setting. Tabloids have latched on to the reboot
concept due to the re-casting of 007 and the production's apparent
amnesia of the previous twenty films.
The lesser known term "retcon" is
perhaps the most apt description of what the film aims to achieve,
though. Retcon - a fusion
of two words "retroactive" and "continuity" is
the adding of new information to "historical" material,
or deliberately changing previously established facts in a work
of serial fiction.
Retcons are common in comic books, especially those of large
publishing houses because of the lengthy history of many series
and the number of independent authors contributing to their development;
this is the context in which the term was coined, and aptly describes
the Bond canon that has involved countless writers, directors
and actors over the past 44 years.
The return to the beginning of 007's career was a concept
Wilson first offered
up in 1987 when Timothy
over from Roger Moore, but then producer Cubby Broccoli
vetoed the idea emphasising that the Bond films had to
people what they expected, and a traditional outing - "The
Living Daylights" - duly followed.
Now with the franchise
facing a fresh start, whether a prequel, reboot or retcon, "it's
the story we've always wanted to tell," Wilson said. "It's
huge," said Craig about taking on the responsibility. "Of
course there's concern, I'm only human. I want to get it
Produced by Michael
G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli (Eon Productions) and directed
by Martin Campbell, CASINO ROYALE is scheduled for release
on November 16, 2006 in the UK. Principal photography started
on January 30th 2006, with locations in the UK, Czech Republic
(Prague), Italy, and the Bahamas. It will be British actor
Daniel Craig’s first outing as James Bond. He is the
sixth actor to play the 007 role in the franchise.
The film also stars Judi Dench, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen, Jeffrey
Wright, Giancarlo Giannini, Caterina Murino, Simon Abkarian, Tobias
Menzies, Ivana Milicevic, Clemens Schik, Ludger Pistor, Claudio
Santamaria and Isaach de Bankole.
Campbell On Directing 007
Craig Press Conference
James Bond 007 #6 is Daniel Craig