Daniel Craig's James Bond officially retired in May — or so we were told. The actor had allegedly turned down $99 million to reprise the role for two additional films; rampant speculation about who would replace him soon followed.
But now it appears that retirement may have been the Michael Jordan kind. Sony has apparently returned to Craig with an improved offer of $150 million, a sum that would likely be enough to coax Sirs Connery and Moore out of the nursing home and into a crisp black Tom Ford suit.
To understand why this is a terrible idea — and it is — one must first start with what makes Bond such an enduring character.
There are things every man loves about James Bond that have remained constant since his first appearance, in Dr. No, nearly 65 years ago: His impeccable sense of style. His penchant for defying orders but getting away with it. His acid tongue. His marksmanship.
But what's made him the longest-tenured character in motion-picture history is his inconstancy: Daniel Craig is the sixth man to play James Bond, and 2016 makes his tenth year as the incumbent. No actor has played the character for more than 12 years, Sean Connery's anomalous appearance in 1984's Never Say Never Again (the only non-Eon Bond picture) notwithstanding.
This merry-go-round of players has been key to Bond's evolution. Every 10 years or so, he is reinvented and reimagined, and each time, the new Bond better embodies the values and trends of his cultural moment than the one who came before him.
Sean Connery's Bond was '60s machismo through and through, ass-slapping and swashbuckling his way through office politics with a smirk on his face and a martini in hand. Roger Moore's was longer-limbed, wittier, more sensitive: a less rugged and self-assured Bond to reflect more fluid notions of masculinity. Timothy Dalton's Bond — like the '80s — was forgettable; Pierce Brosnan, with his action-hero good looks, brought Bond to the era of the blockbuster. And then there's Daniel Craig's: an exceedingly vain and detached Bond, more identifiable by the labels on his clothes and cars than his cult of personality.
In essence, Bond is less a character than he is a brand. And like any successful brand, Bond's survival has always depended on adaptation: for each new target audience, a new campaign, a new voice, a new spokesperson.
Which is why it's time for Daniel Craig to step down from the podium.
We need a Bond for a new moment, one defined by globalization, heterogeneity and the breaking down of traditional barriers.
The Bond we need is Idris Elba.