A favorite pastime of a certain subset of cinephiles is to theorize, speculate, and even wager on who will become the next James Bond. Seriously, it’s right there in the sports books next to the horse races and the billion-to-one bet that the Sacramento Kings will ever make the playoffs again.
But what is it, precisely, that has so many of us so invested? If the oo7 movies themselves tend to be more or less the same, employing action/spy genre tropes with the formal discipline of a sonnet, why does it really matter who steps into the bespoke menswear and wields the Walther?
Speculating which prospective actor feels enough like past Bonds to play the role is the wrong game. The question in determining who should inherit the role is, what should Bond be? And for that, we must take a tour through previous Bonds to examine what each embodied for his time. Only then might we also answer the question of which actor portrayed the best 007, if such a thing as “best” can really be judged.