Is there a connection between the Sean Connery James Bond and the current Daniel Craig incarnation? Could they, in fact, be two MI6 Agents who’ve used the same alias as Agent 007, AKA James Bond? Have there been seven different people to carry the Bond name over the years, all claiming to be the genuine article? Does British Intelligence recruit a new 007 to replace the previous one if he is captured/quits/gets killed? Maybe so. Let’s look at the concept to see if the theory holds up under scrutiny.
This idea has become popular in recent years but the genesis of it actually began way back in 1967. In the original film version of Casino Royale, (which was a satire of the Sean Connery Bond films) the idea of Bond being an alias was first used. In the ’67 movie, the original James Bond (possibly the one from the novels) is portrayed by David Niven as a retired agent who is called back into service as the new ‘M’ to help against S.M.E.R.S.H., who are killing the 00 agents. Original Bond criticizes his replacement, calling him a “sexual acrobat” (a not-so-veiled jab at Sean Connery’s lady’s man image). Taking over MI6, Bond #1 decides to confuse S.M.E.R.S.C.H. by renaming several of his 00 Agents as James Bond 007. Multiple Bonds go after S.M.E.R.S.H., including one played by Peter Sellers. (By the way, for any of you who are unfamiliar with Seller’s work, do yourself a favor and find some of his films. At the very least, see Doctor Strangelove and A Shot in the Dark. The man was a comedy goldmine.)
Fast forward to years later, as Bondian actors left the franchise and new ones came—Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig—the character of James Bond remains as youthful and vigorous as ever. From this, fans have created this theory that James Bond is a code name used by multiple agents over the years. It explains the changing face, as well as the somewhat different personalities of the varying Bonds. Some fans say there are only two explanations for this…Either Bond is a Time Lord, or he’s an alias for a bunch of guys. (And I don’t think he’s a Time Lord.)
The Bond franchise was clearly canonically connected from Dr. No (1962) until Die Another Day (2002), yet our hero was still young and spry after 40 years. The new version of Casino Royale (2006) is considered a reboot, and yet Judi Dench is playing the same character. Her version of ‘M’ is newly installed as head of MI6 in Goldeneye (1995) but by the time the Craig movies begin, we’re told that she’s a veteran executive of British intelligence. So does that connect the original franchise to the Craig films? If so, and this film does take place canonically after the Bronsnan films, then the fact that we see Bond just beginning indicates that this is a whole, new guy, but with the same name.
As a further hint/Easter Egg that there are more than one Bond, recall that in George Lazenby’s single appearance in the Bond series, the under-rated On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, when he took over the role from Connery, there is a scene where he doesn’t get the girl, and he remarks, “This never happened to the other guy.” Sure, at the time it was done as a gag, but it fits the theory.
One problem that people point out to poke a hole in this theory is the bad reaction that various Bonds have had to the mention of the late Tracey Bond. We know that Bond (Lazenby) surprisingly got married in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, only to see his wife quickly murdered. So why does Roger Moore’s Bond react so badly to a mention of her name in The Spy Who Loved Me, and why does he bring flowers to her grave in For Your Eyes Only? Also, why does Tim Dalton’s Bond get so defensive and cold when someone mentions to him about the idea of him getting married one day? And what about Skyfall? Craig’s Bond visits his childhood home and we see the graves of mama and poppa Bond. Surely, all this indicates that there’s only one Bond, doesn’t it?
Maybe not! Maybe the men who think they’re James bond are actually brainwashed! If M16 really wants to keep the illusion that there’s an ageless, indestructible agent out there, they don’t want their current version letting his identity slip or revealing the secret under torture. Maybe MI6 makes each Bond think he’s the real deal.
Perhaps the original Bond retired (as the Niven Bond did in the 1967 Casino Royale) and MI6 used some sort of device to record and store all his knowledge and memories. Then they found a suitable replacement (Connery) of the proper physical appearance and with no immediate family who would miss him, and then brainwashed him, installing the knowledge and memories of the original Bond into the head of the Connery Bond. Each time a Bond is unable or unwilling to continue in his duties, MI6 copies his memories and downloads them into the replacement, with subtle alterations, to accommodate the sliding timeline as the decades pass. That’s why both the Moore Bond and the Dalton Bond thought they were married to Tracy, even though she was actually married to the Lazenby Bond.
Javier Bardem’s character Raoul Silva from Skyfall may be a clue to the veracity of this theory. We know Silva is a former MI6 agent who worked under M, before going rogue. Silva repeatedly tries to make friends with Bond, and refers to both himself and Bond as lab rats, held and tortured by M. Was Silva a previous attempt to create a replacement Bond (Maybe between Brosnan and Craig) but the brainwashing didn’t last for some reason, and the furious Silva, realizing what had been done to him, fled to plot his revenge. This explains his attempts to bond with Bond, and his hatred for M. When Silva follows Bond to his (supposed) childhood home, notice Silva’s reaction…almost one of recognition. Perhaps he had the memory of this place programmed into him, as well. When Silva sees the graves of Mr. and Mrs. Bond, he laughs; perhaps remembering a brief time when he believed them to be his parents, and he knows that the current Bond believes it, too.
Here’s one other connected fan theory, that may seem more of stretch but it connects to the multi-Bond theory. This other theory suggests that the character Sean Connery played in The Rock (1996) was actually the James Bond who Connery portrayed in Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever. We learn that Connery’s character John Mason, was a former British Agent who was arrested by the American government without charges for knowing too many of their dirty secrets, including who really killed JFK. We’re told that he’d been imprisoned for 30 years, which would coincide with the end of the Connery Bond’s run, following You Only Live Twice in 1967.
Now, you might say, “What about Diamonds Are Forever? Connery starred in that and it came after You Only Live Twice”. True, but recall that in the Rock, we’re told the character escaped from Alcatraz (a major plot point in the film) but was later recaptured. That would explain the Connery Bond’s absence in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He was arrested in America so MI6 replaced him with the Lazenby Bond. Lazenby resigned after his wife Tracy was murdered but then the Connery Bond escaped to resume his duties as 007; hence his reappearance in Diamonds Are Forever. Sometime after that, he was either recaptured or turned over to the Americans by MI6 and remained there for over 20 more years.
During that long stay, his conditioning/brainwashing by MI6 faded and he remembered who he was. He knew he was born John Mason, and that he had a daughter he’d forgotten about for years due to the brainwashing. (The reason the FBI guys call refer to him as Mason instead of Bond is probably because the Brits turned him over to the US and disavowed his actions, retracting his Bond identity because they don’t want the world to think that James Bond is sitting in a prison cell somewhere. So they tell the FBI his real name, to separate him from the Bond mythos they are trying so hard to maintain.) When Mason is locked up for the second time, the Roger Moore Bond is recruited by MI6 and brainwashed to think he’s the real Bond. As for Mason, he finally gets free at the end of the Rock.
So that’s the infamous James Bond theory (two Bond theories, actually) and it may have some holes that weren’t mentioned here, but it’s an interesting theory and fun to consider. So what do you think…Is James Bond a codename or is there just one 007?