James Bond is more than a character: He’s the cinematic manifestation of cool. Entertaining audiences for over half a century, Ian Fleming’s MI6 agent has been portrayed by six different actors in the official franchise; the films may have changed with the times but 007’s affinity for nice suits, beautiful women, fast cars, other-worldly gadgets, and vodka martinis has remained. Bond epitomizes the kind of stoic that we all aspire to: keep your cool and do the right thing. God save the queen!
As an unwavering symbol of patriotism and self-righteousness who defends the British empire and never seems to age, the entity that is James Bond provokes a lot of curiosity. Who exactly is James Bond? What does the “007” mantle mean? Similarly to a superhero, there seems to be an endless number of reincarnations of the secret agent, different faces aiming at us through the end of a barrel - which means the long-running franchise is no stranger to broken continuity and plot holes. The “character” himself is so mysterious, that fans have been provoked into theoretical gap-filling.
Some theories make James Bond movies better, some make them worse, and some probably don't matter at all. It’s up to you to decide which are worth taking to heart.
- Photo: The Living Daylights / MGM/UA Communications Co.1
'James Bond’ Is A Codename Or Alias
This is the big one. The theory that all Bond theories seem to either reference or adhere to. Whether there was once a man born James Bond - perhaps Sean Connery’s was the first - or never was, MI6 agents take that name when they become 007. This is why the films have featured six different actors portraying the character across dozens of films and their subsequent time periods (1962 to present day).
These men could be brainwashed into believing they actually are “James Bond” or just be so committed to their role they memorize all the necessary details and play the role. “James Bond” therefore becomes a "legend and symbol of an everlasting empire." Using the current filmography, Redditor u/WhyThisIsLikeThat compiled a way in which this theory could apply to a single Bond universe.4,5501,467Do you buy it?
- Photo: Casino Royale / Sony Pictures Releasing2
Bond Orders A Vodka Martini Shaken Because It Allows Him To Quickly Detect Poison
Why does Bond drink on the job so much? Redditor u/OrwinBeane makes the argument it’s because it helps him to manage his fear and tolerance for pain. That said, why the “Vesper Martini”? Putting vodka in a martini or shaking it over ice takes the drink from tasty to tasteless. This allows Bond the ability to quickly detect if anything else has been added to his drink - such as poison.3,6551,184Do you buy it?
- Photo: The Rock / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution3
John Mason Is James Bond
As covered by websites like Digital Spy, a popular theory claims Sean Connery’s James Bond retired and became John Patrick Mason (also played by Connery) from Michael Bay’s The Rock. Mason spent years imprisoned by the US government for allegedly spying on them during the '60s. Not only is Mason a former MI6 agent, but his character borrows a line from the Bond film, Diamonds Are Forever: “I'm Stanley Goodspeed." "But of course you are." This theory supports the notion that “James Bond” and “007” are merely codenames.3,2191,084Do you buy it?
- Photo: Skyfall / Sony Pictures Releasing4
Judi Dench’s M Is The Original Moneypenny
Redditor u/JustEmbarrassing's spectacular theory operates under the assumption “James Bond” is a censor equivalent to that of “John Doe.” This would hide the identity of MI6 employees and could be applied to any reoccurring characters in the Bond franchise. For example, in addition to James Bond, there could be multiple Qs and Moneypennys.
This is not to say that some iterations of the characters are not the same. For example, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, and Roger Moore’s Bonds have similar narratives. Lazenby’s Bond recounts the adventures of Connery and marries Tracy while Moore’s Bond remembers Tracy - Lois Maxwell plays Moneypenny in all of those Bond films.
Once Timothy Dalton took up the mantel of Bond, the franchise departed from the previous continuity - they are a different set of Bonds. The age of Dalton’s Bond and Pierce Brosnan’s are the same along with their versions of Moneypenny: Caroline Bliss and Samantha Bond, respectively.
When Judi Dench took up the mantel of M in Brosnan’s movies, she was the same age as Maxwell’s Moneypenny would have been - so Maxwell's character could have risen through the ranks and returned as Judi Dench.
It’s not just the age of Dench and Maxwell that fits. Skyfall states M worked in Hong Kong as a section chief to Raoul Silva in 1986 - the same year A View to a Kill was released, which was the last appearance of Maxwell’s Moneypenny.
In this theory, Daniel Craig’s Bond is his own version, which makes sense given how drastic of a departure it is from previous portrayals. Naomie Harris is then a new Moneypenny and Judi Dench's M, who we know has existed alongside two different Bonds, could easily be the character once known as the first Moneypenny. That particular "M" being short for Moneypenny.2,0371,055Do you buy it?