With the passing of Roger Moore on May 23rd 2017, so departed the second actor to play James Bond since David Niven in the original Casino Royale of 1967.
But lets talk about the future of James Bond for a moment.
Daniel Craig has not been shy at showing his lack of enthusiasm at reprising his role as 007, telling Time Out he’d rather “slash his wrists” after the last installment; Spectre. If Craig is done with James, then who will be the next suave special agent to wear the tuxedo?
We are living in a time of change and supposed tolerance. We have had our first black US president. Despite that, racisim and zenophobia is still an issue as seen by many who voted for Brexit last year. Recent terrorist attacks in Manchester reflect contempt towards the western world. Like it or not, we are not living in a society where change and diversity is universally appreciated.
Has James Bond modernized enough to change colour? Would such a change be met with support, or is this just another politically correct neo liberal statement that’s trendy right now? Would making him black improve the franchise or change it all even?
There are many black British actors today that would comfortably fit the mould of James Bond in terms of build, charisma and attitude.
Idris Elba for example has been repeatedly mentioned as a contender. His portrayal in Luther alone proves that he has can handle the action and suspense. He certainly has the attitude and sex appeal.
Rising star David Oyelowo ( Interstellar, The Butler) is the closest we’ve come to a black Bond, having narrated the audio book for Trigger Mortis, a new Bond book written by Anthony Horowitz.
But a Black Bond would not be unanimously met without opposition.
Legendary Live And Let Die antagonist Yaphet Kotto would be in the “stay white” camp.
The 75-year-old Kotto, who portrayed Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big opposite Roger Moore’s 007 in the 1973 film, spoke to The Big Issue about his feelings regarding Bond potentially being black and he is not in favour. Kotto explained:
He cannot be black. Political correctness be damned. James Bond was established by Ian Fleming as a white character, played by white actors. Play 003 or 006, but cannot be 007. A lot of people say we should be allowed to play everything. Don’t be ridiculous … Black men should stop trying to play roles created by whites. These roles are not written for black men.
But does Kotto have a point? Would changing Bond’s colour change his fundamental image and character to a point that it’s not Bond anymore?
The idea that Bond could be black raises other possibilities. Why can’t 007 be American, or homosexual even?
Thanks to Daniel Craig, the 007 franchise is in fact in a healthy state, as a world box office taking of $880 million in the last installment of Spectre proved. No disrespect to Pearce Brosnan, but Craig’s blond bond brought a rougher, edgier and even more vulnerable side to the character. Previous to that, there was more than a hint of cartoonish caricature about the 007 world, when we saw cars that could become planes and then boats in a matter of seconds.
In that conclusion I think the world is ready for a black bond, but considering the success of what went before, I doubt if studios are willing to take the risk in giving us one. Never say never though.