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YMMV / James Bond

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The film series as a whole contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Displacement: It's ironic considering that the novels are some of the best selling books in history yet they are still less well known than the films.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Is Bond a suave, sweet-talking super agent, or is he a Jerkass Overt Operative who solves problems by blowing them up? Is he truly loyal to England, or is he just Married to the Job? Is he a misogynist, or does he go through Bond girls like tissue paper because his attempts at real romance blew up in his face? The debate goes on, and each actor brings a slightly different interpretation to the table as well.
    • Animator Chuck Jones once made a tongue in cheek in theory in his autobiography that James Bond was in fact an egotistical bumbler, but comes out of each situation looking so suave and hyper competent because he is placed against an even more buffoonish and Genre Blind Rogues Gallery.
  • And You Thought It Would Fail:
    • Albert R. Broccoli first attempted to obtain the rights to the books in the late fifties for his production company Warwick Films and managed to secure a meeting with Ian Fleming. His then-partner Irving Allen didn't share Cubby's enthusiasm and told Fleming to his face that he didn't think the novels were good enough for television.
    • Rod Taylor recalls being offered the role of Bond:
      I thought it was beneath me. I didn't think Bond would be successful in the movies. That was one of the greatest mistakes of my career! Every time a new Bond picture became a smash hit, I tore out my hair. Cubby and I have laughed about it ever since.
  • Award Snub:
    • None of John Barry's scores received Academy Award nominations. The films that did receive nominations - The Spy Who Loved Me and Skyfall - weren't scored by him.
    • For that matter, David Arnold, widely considered to be Barry's worthy successor, was also snubbed for his work.
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    • The only time production designer Ken Adam received an Oscar Nomination was for The Spy Who Loved Me.
    • "Goldfinger", widely regarded to be the number one Bond song, was not nominated for Best Original Song for either the Oscars or Golden Globes.
  • Broken Base:
    • The films from The '70s and The '80s are very divisive, because of how silly the last Connery film and the Moore films are and how serious the Dalton films are. The only film that most people can agree on from this period is The Spy Who Loved Me, which most fans consider to be great.
    • The Brosnan era. Most fans agree that GoldenEye is his best movie, but opinions on Tomorrow Never Dies and The World Is Not Enough vary wildly from boring to mediocre to almost as good as GoldenEye. Then there's Die Another Day - is it silly but entertaining, or one of the worst in the series?
    • After all, are the best James Bond movies the most serious and realistic, like the early Connery-era movies, and the whole Lazenby, Dalton, and Craig eras? Or the movies that embrace fantasy and comedy, like the later Connery-era movies and the majority of the Moore and Brosnan eras?
    • Also, not including the iconic Bond theme riff that debuted in Dr. No and has been heard in every film ever since, which film had the best theme? Common contenders for the title are usually "Goldfinger", "We Have All the Time in the World", "Live and Let Die", "Nobody Does it Better", "You Know My Name", and "Skyfall".
  • Can't Un-Hear It:
  • Character Perception Evolution: Timothy Dalton's portrayal of Bond in The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill had gained greater appreciation thanks to the passage of time. At the time, Dalton was stepping in as Bond after 12 years of Roger Moore, and his Darker and Edgier portrayal, which was more in line with how Ian Fleming depicted Bond in the original novels, was shocking to audiences who'd grown accustomed to Moore's Lighter and Softer portrayal. It didn't help that LTK was almost a Franchise Killer that sent the series into 6 years of Development Hell (to date, the longest gap between Bond films), ensuring that Dalton didn't play Bond again. However, thanks to Daniel Craig's similarly dark portrayal of Bond, audiences have started seeing that Dalton's portrayal was ahead of its time, and a 2020 survey about who was the best Bond had Dalton finishing second behind Sean Connery.
  • Development Heaven: Timothy Dalton set out to be as authentic to the original books as possible, to the point where he was often seen reading them onset.
  • Dork Age: Just like fellow British cultural treasure Doctor Who, this franchise has run for over fifty years, so everyone has their own Dork Age. Unfortunately, this is precisely where the aforementioned Broken Base comes in.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
  • Escapist Character: The movies had undergone Serial Escalation as the producers tried to outdo themselves with increasingly over-the-top quips, cars, gadgets, and Bond Girls. The Daniel Craig incarnation shows him being much more flawed.
  • Fandom Heresy: "The Codename Theory," which states that "James Bond" is a cover identity given to whatever agent currently holds the rank of 007 (and thus each actor to portray Bond has been playing a "different" character) is very divisive. Some like the idea a lot, while others hate the fact that it tries to take Bond continuity far more seriously than Eon Productions ever has, and even that it turns Call Backs into plotholes (why do people remember Bond and know him by name from before he was an agent? Why were souvenirs from Connery!Bond's missions in Lazenby!Bond's desk? Why would Moore!Bond pay respects to his predecessor's dead wife? Why is the dead wife actually named Bond on her gravestone too? Why does Leiter recognize Dalton!Bond? Why would MI6 bother with such a pointless masquerade?) and veers into over-the-top parody territory in similar fashion to the infamous 1967 Casino Royale that wasn't produced by Eon. Lee Tamahori, director of Die Another Day, is a supporter of this theory and reportedly planned to canonize it by having Sean Connery cameo as the now-elderly "First" Bond, endearing him either more or less to a lot of fans. It was actively Jossed by Skyfall, as Bond visits his parents' graves and their names are "Bond". However, since Daniel Craig's Bond is an explicit Continuity Reboot, the theory persists that the first five Bonds were agents using code names. Others just go the extra mile and explain it all with The Multiverse.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: It's pretty rare to find a fanfic where James is paired with one of the women from his adventures, unless it's Vesper or Tracy. Het fans tend to like James/Moneypenny, and slash fans James/Alec. The most popular pairing on AO3 is James/Q, with almost tenfold the second-most popular pairing, James/M(Dench).
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • Everything that went wrong with the series pre-reboot (absurd plots, megalomaniac villains, over-focus on gadgets, jokes undermining the seriousness of the situation) was in evidence in mild form as early as Goldfinger. This is "original sin" in more than one sense, as all those things were inherent to the series' character pre-reboot — enough so that the films with Daniel Craig simply don't feel like James Bond films to some viewers. It runs the other way as well, though not as drastically — Dr. No and From Russia with Love feels closer to Quantum of Solace than Goldfinger in some respects.
    • A recurring complaint in the franchise is when Bond Girls are useless in the plot and need to be saved frequently by Bond. These people seem to forget that Honey Ryder, the Bond Girl from the first movie Dr. No, already had this problem. If you look closely, you will find that she adds nothing to the plot and does not help Bond at any time, having to be rescued by him at the climax. Honey could have been taken from the movie and the events would have happened the same way. The difference is that the character is still friendly and charismatic, something other Bond Girls would not be in the future. Also, this problem could easily be forgiven for being just the first movie in the franchise.
    • Fans who complain about the seriousness and violence of the Craig era, to the point that their films don't look like a James Bond movie, probably don't know or have forgotten that those elements already existed in the Timothy Dalton movies. The big difference is that Dalton Era movies are still utilizing these elements within the established franchise formula, unlike Craig Era.
  • Homegrown Hero: The Man with the Golden Gun gives it a double whammy by including an American Comic Relief from the previous film, Sheriff JW Pepper, as a tourist in Thailand.
  • Narm: Occasionally the Title Drops. Those that are based after characters (like Goldfinger) or weapons (like GoldenEye) work. But those that are based after random quotes can come across as more or less forced. A View to a Kill is especially bad.
    Mayday: Wow! What a view!
    Zorin: To a kill!
  • One-Scene Wonder: M, Q, and Miss Moneypenny in the first 20 films pre-reboot, especially with Bernard Lee as M, Desmond Llewelyn as Q, and Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny. They rarely had much screentime (sometimes it was no more than one scene per film), yet to fans they were an indispensable part of the series.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell's replacements as M and Miss Moneypenny, Robert Brown and Caroline Bliss, are generally seen as inferior replacements (though no fault of the actors). Brown was seen as too amiable and avuncular for the role and the fact that he was friends with Roger Moore made them seem more like work friends than superior and subordinate. While he worked better against Timothy Dalton, his antagonistic portrayal in Licence to Kill didn't help. Bliss' Moneypenny didn't make much of an impression (Dalton's tenure being cut short didn't help) and instead of the flirty banter, we have someone having a schoolgirl crush. Both their replacements, Judi Dench and Samantha Bond, were much more well-received (also helps that they lasted longer in the role).
  • The Scrappy: Something inevitable in a franchise with more than fifty years of existence and 25 films, but some characters really stand out in the dislike they receive from fans.
    • Sheriff JW Pepper from Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, a stereotypical racist sheriff. Not only are his racist quips bloody awful now (and they weren't even funny then), he has the most annoying, chippy voice in the entire world. Think Jar Jar Binks crossed with the villains from Deliverance. It's a rare character that can set one's teeth on edge simply by speaking.
    • Mary Goodnight from The Man with the Golden Gun, due to Britt Ekland's Dull Surprise acting, and the character constantly coming across as both The Load, a Distressed Damsel and a bad Comic Relief, despite supposedly being a trained secret agent. It also doesn't help that Andrea Anders, the secondary Bond Girl played by Maud Adams (who would return as the main Bond Girl in Octopussy), is widely considered to be much better-acted and a more interesting character, only to be unceremoniously killed off halfway through the film.
    • Stacey Sutton from A View to a Kill screams at the slightest provocation, gets captured at the most inconvenient times and forces Bond to rescue her, fails to notice Zorin sneaking up on her in a zeppelin, and survives over the much interesting May Day.
    • Dr. Christmas Jones from The World Is Not Enough, is hated for generally existing only so that Bond has a backup girl when the infinitely-more-interesting primary love interest, Elektra King, turns out to be evil. Not to mention the casting of Denise Richards as a brilliant nuclear physicist.
  • Star Trek Movie Curse:
    • The quality of the individual films have been bumpy with no clear odd/even pattern, even for the same actor. Some films criticized at the time of release have been Vindicated by History since. But the Daniel Craig era has the odd-numbered films receiving critical acclaim, while the even-numbered films got ok-to-mixed reception.
    • An example with the Bond actors themselves: The odd-numbered actors (Connery, Moore and Brosnan) are generally humorous portrayals with over-the-top gimmick gadgets, while the even-numbered ones (Lazenby, Dalton and Craig) have generally portrayed the character with more pathos, angst and seriousness and less emphasis on gadgets. The first set has next to no introspection while the second set is soaked in it.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Several films in the franchise are accused of this by the fact that Bond and the respective Bond Girl have few romantic interactions before becoming a couple in the end. The two main exceptions (although not the only ones) are On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Casino Royale (2006).
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • Although many have praised the Daniel Craig Bond films for being more gritty and realistic than the sometimes-campy Bond films of previous years, there are a significant number of fans who 'miss' the implausible gadgets, girls with suggestive names, and over-the-top villains and wish them to return. At a more general level, these fans often feel like the Craig films aren't really Bond films at all, having a lot more in common with The Bourne Series than with previous Bond films. Another aspect of this is Bond's personality; the Craig-era Bond is the only one (with Timothy Dalton to some degree) who seems to hate his job, while the one thing the others all seemed to share was a genuine joy at living life as a secret agent.
    • Conversely, those who like the more realistic tone of the Craig-era films have expressed disappointment with Spectre for its inclusion of more over-the-top elements.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Many fans like R, Q's replacement for The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day. The fact that it was played by John Cleese obviously helps. Unfortunately, the franchise had a reboot after Die Another Day, and many fans regret that because of that, he only appeared in two films in the franchise.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever (something of a passion project for Fleming who was very interested in diamond smuggling, see his book, The Diamond Smugglers) and the first four movies of the Moore era discarded Ian Fleming's interesting and intricate plots from the books that gave them their titles in favour of formulaic and often campy affairs.note  You Only Live Twice in particular, discarded the revenge plot for something of lesser stature, a mistake the producers clearly regretted as they tried twice to create the perfect Bond revenge film.
  • Too Good to Last: Timothy Dalton's run on the series (for his fans at least).
  • Tough Act to Follow:
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Instead of spending all day here, let's just say "Early Bond" + "Women" (note that the books have other value issues as well, but the women are most prominent). Roger Moore couldn't hide his discomfort attempting to imitate such demeanour in The Man with the Golden Gun.
    • "Early Bond" + "Race" wasn't the best combination, either. Dr. No and You Only Live Twice are very uncomfortable to watch today, and it can be argued quite convincingly that Live and Let Die has a fundamentally racist subtext.
  • Values Resonance: After the Cold War ended, there was some speculation that James Bond had no place in popular culture. However, with 9/11 and The War on Terror coming into the fold, some have decided that a spy who battles multinational terrorist groups might still be relevant after all.
  • The Woobie: James Bond, in the Daniel Craig era, is pretty much this to a T. He has several emotional issues, is orphaned at an early age, has a penchant for revenge, generally looks unhappy even when he smiles, has a grim outlook on his job and still regrets over losing his loved ones, especially Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale (2006), and M in Skyfall. In Spectre, it's even revealed that Franz Oberhauser's father adopted him after Bond loses his own parents, but Franz kills him out of jealousy. Franz even mocks him, telling how he was behind all of Bond's miseries over the years. At the end of Spectre, Bond's frantic efforts to rescue Madeline—especially the way he cries out her name as he races through the old MI6 building while searching for her—are downright wrenching. One gets the feeling that he is absolutely fed up with losing people that he cares about and is determined that it will not happen this time. Then, after successfully rescuing her, the next film starts with them breaking up due to his mistaken belief that she's betrayed him and not until five years later does he learn that not only did she not, she had his daughter. To top all that off, the three of them get less than a day to be a happy family before all hell breaks loose, culminating in him dying to ensure their safety. Given what he has been through over the years, and with little of a life he has outside of MI6, it's quite sad to say that he does really need a big hug.
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency?: Daniel Craig's portrayal of James Bond has been criticized due to him being blond and considered too short, whereas his predecessors were dark-haired and 6 ft or taller.

The novel series contains examples of:

  • Homegrown Hero: Bond usually departs on entirely international adventures and would not grow even a bit less British through any of it.
  • Ho Yay: Oh, there's quite a bit. In as much as Fleming seemed to dislike homosexuals, he places a lot of emphasis on naked men and their muscles. Possibly intended as fanservice for female readers.
  • Memetic Mutation: James Bond loves eggs.
  • Narm: The Values Dissonance will come across as this. Fleming was very much a man of his time.
  • Only the Creator Does It Right: Most of the novels written after Fleming's death aren't as famous or well-regarded, although Colonel Sun stands out for being as well-regarded as the originals. It helps that it was written by Kingsley Amis, who was friends with Fleming and (according to some) helped clean up Golden Gun for publication.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Fleming chose the name, James Bond, because it sounded like the most boring and non-descript name imaginable to him. However, decades of the books and films permeating world popular culture have given that name a coolness and glamour with a forceful simplicity that a multi-syllabic name could not match today.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: In the short story "Blast from the Past", Bond finally meets his son James Suzuki, whom he fathered in You Only Live Twice. After three decades of non-existence, what is he used for? As a corpse in a revenge plot against Bond, who is brushed aside so that Bond can finish his business with Irma Bunt, the accomplice in the death of his wife Tracy.
  • Trapped by Mountain Lions: As a part of Ian Fleming's apparent obsession with food and high-class living, many of the books take detours from Bond investigating a world-spanning conspiracy to describe him having lunch in great detail.
  • Values Dissonance: Oh God, where should we start...
    • In Casino Royale, when Vesper is kidnapped, Bond gets annoyed and says women should Stay in the Kitchen and let men do the work. This is intentional, as Bond's misogyny leads to him being easily manipulated and suffering the first major loss of the series.
    • In Live and Let Die, Bond makes horrible comments about black people.
    • In From Russia with Love, Bond laughs when Kerim Bey tells the story of how he kidnapped and abused a woman.
    • All of Bond's thoughts about gay people in Goldfinger are horrendous. Let's just say that there is a moment when Bond says it's all the consequence of the equal vote between men and women.
    • During Fleming's run, Bond likes but patronizes Blacks, hates Koreans for some reason but loves the Japanese and thinks "sex equality" has fostered bisexual misfits.
    • Though outright rape is still portrayed negatively, Fleming was known for his love of BDSM and often incorporates mentions of rough sex, spankings as punishment, and the psychological effects of torture in ways that come off as...easy to misinterpret.