The James Bond Effect

An observation/analysis of a growing trend in the film industry, specifically with comic-book movies.

Editorial Opinion

     Recently, we discovered through the Sony hack that Andrew Garfield, who played Peter Parker and Spider-Man in the web-crawler's last two feature films, might not return in the next movie if there even is one.  At this point, we've now seen two actors portray Spider-Man on the big screen across five different full-length feature films, the ones we care to recognize at least (do a Google search, you might be surprised).  Personally, I think Tobey Maguire did a bang-up job, and I never considered all of his odd mannerisms such as his habit of ugly-crying until I became a part of the CBM community anyway; at any rate, Tobey Maguire has my vote for "Best Spider-Man" for now, because Andrew Garfield has a comically long neck and seems much too hipster new-gen-of-youngsters to really feel like the Peter Parker I know from the comics.  I'm sure I just russled some jimmies here.

At least we'll always have '60s Spider-Man.  Everyone's recasting superheroes, and I'm just sitting here mast...never mind.

     But -- this is all just my opinion.  Why do I bring this up?  Well, I bring this up to point out a recurring trend in modern-day superhero movies, a trend that I like to call the "James Bond Effect".  The reason I'm naming it after James Bond is because I feel the classic British secret-agent is the best shining example of the effect itself.  James Bond is a character that has been portrayed by six different actors to date, and each one of these actors has brought a different charisma and style to Bond.  Not only does James Bond's knack of actor-renewing keep the 007 franchise fresh, it also gives filmmakers an opportunity to recreate the character time and time again in order to keep making movies and also keep making money.  The best part is, everybody has their favorite Bond for different reasons.  Most people agree that Sean Connery was the best, and I'm not going to say anything else about that, lest I russle more jimmies.  Anyhow, how much longer do you think Daniel Craig, the current James Bond, will last in the role?  'Skyfall' was a tremendous success, so much so that the director of the movie is returning to direct the next one in the franchise.  The Daniel Craig era of 007 might be the best one yet, some claim, but when Daniel Craig finally gets the boot or quits, who will take his place?  Will they restart the franchise and tell the origin story again, or will they simply get a new actor and drop him into a brand-new James Bond adventure?  Only time will tell.  What we know for sure is that it will have a witty and intelligently ominous title, accompanied by a suitably unique theme song.  A different director will bring his own unique vision and style to the franchise, and fans will love it or dismiss it.

Daniel Craig doesn't need a gun -- he just shoots you with his blue eyes, and you fall over all helpless-like.  

     Does this sound familiar to you yet?  The same thing that happened to James Bond over the years is happening right now to the superhero movie genre: certain heroes are being reinvented, recasted, and ultimately rebooted over and over.  Spider-Man is just one example, and it might be wishful thinking to dream of a future where we look back at the 'Amazing Spider-Man' era and reflect on what Andrew Garfield's movies brought to the table.  Will we think of Tobey Maguire as the Sean Connery of Spider-Man movies?  Maybe, maybe not.  It all seems complicated now, what with Marvel and Sony fighting over him, but I'm certain that Spidey will return to the big screen in some form.  

     Another example of the James Bond Effect, and perhaps a more obvious one, is with Batman movies.  Batman has been reinvented so many times, it's difficult to track down and label exactly which incarnation of Batman is the canon one and which ones are the "what if" stories.  Batman has been portrayed in live-action by seven different actors to date, not including Ben Affleck, spanning over seventy years of caped crusading.  Let that sink in for a bit....the first actor to play Batman was Lewis G Wilson, in 1943.  Wow, what a long time ago that was!  And now we are seeing the recast happen again, with Ben Affleck, whom we have yet to see in action.  Arguments about who played the best live-action Batman can last hours, so I won't even bring it up (*cough cough Bale cough cough).  In short time, we will see Batman in action again in 'Batman v. Superman', which will hopefully see Bats launch himself into DC's hopeful shared movie-verse.  

Hehe, Robin has "big hair".

     Each of the actors who've portrayed Batman have brought with them a slew of weaknesses and strengths; for example, Christian Bale has a terrible Batman voice but plays a great uncostumed Bruce Wayne, Michael Keaton plays a well-balanced Batman and Bruce Wayne all around but has a terrible haircut, and George Clooney plays a decent older Bruce Wayne but doesn't fit the Batnipples very well at all.

     It seems as though the James Bond Effect is becoming more prevalent in superhero movies as time goes on, we've even heard murmurs and whispers of the near-perfect Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man being recasted.  I believe the James Bond Effect is a good thing for the comic-book movie phenomenon, and I also believe it would behoove the studios and powers that be to consider the idea of recasting and rebooting when they feel as though the franchise is dying.  Spider-Man might be the current best candidate, seeing as 'The Amazing Spider-Man 2' is now being considered a franchise killer, and now we're hearing rumors that the next movie might take inspiration from Spider-Man's most loved storylines.  I would love to see this happen, because it also means another chance that Venom, my favorite villain ever, will appear on the big-screen again and not in a shameful way (I don't blame Topher Grace, I like him, he's cool).  Hopefully our most favorite actors don't take their leave too soon, but I've got my fingers crossed that we at least get to see our comic-book heroes on the screen, even if it means separating their films by actor.  It sure seems to have benefited Batman, not to mention Superman who beats him in the number-of-actors department by a long shot.  The recasting of superheroes has happened more than you think, after all, comic-book movies aren't exactly a new thing, and some of the films from way back in the day will make you wonder "What the heck were they thinking?"  

     What do you think?  Is the recasting and revamping of superhero franchises a good thing, or is it just more evidence that Hollywood has no clue what they're doing?  Are you sad that Andrew Garfield might have come and gone already?  What other actors do you think should play currently casted comic-book movie characters?  I understand this editorial seems a little like, "Oh, thanks for pointing out what we already know", but I'm honestly interested in how other people feel about this trend in filmmaking.   


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