It’s official – Bond has been bought by Amazon. As part of a merger thought to be worth in the region of $8.45 billion, the tech giant has acquired the rights to every movie under the MGM umbrella. It hasn't said much in terms of specifics when it comes to what this means for Prime subscribers, but in theory it's a huge deal.
As a result, Amazon’s flagship streaming service, Amazon Prime Video, is set to receive a major shot in the arm thanks to the war chest of more than 4,000 movies and 17,000 hours of TV belonging to one of the world’s oldest film studios.
That chest includes the likes of Rocky, Robocop and The Handmaid's Tale, but it’s 007 who will inevitably prove the most lucrative addition to the streamer. Amazon is "anticipating" being able to "mine" 007 and other series for originals, according to a Variety report from earlier this week.
Still, that's less likely to happen than you might think it is. As discussed in a WSJ article this week, producers Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli maintain close creative control of the franchise. In a statement, the pair said. "We are committed to continuing to make James Bond films for the world-wide theatrical audience." The report also mentions that Amazon and the producers are aligned on Bond's current strategy – that is, releasing high-end movies in theaters, which has kept 007 evergreen for more than five decades (No Time To Die releases in September).
That said, we can dream about what Bond would look like on TV – and in this age of high-end spin-offs from popular franchises, we'd love to see 007 hit the small screen in some form. In this list, we've picked out five potential TV series centred around the famous secret agent that we'd like to see on Amazon Prime Video, from origin stories to animated anthologies.
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Perhaps the most obvious route for a James Bond spin-off is an exploration of the character’s troubled past. Granted, origin stories aren’t the most original path to tread nowadays – Joker, Cruella... Wonka? – but the world’s most famous spy, unlike other popular characters, actually boasts a fairly large chunk of established lineage.
In novels like On Her Majesty's Secret Service and You Only Live Twice, Ian Fleming makes clear Bond’s ancestry, describing his Scottish father and Swiss mother, who were killed in a mountain climbing accident when he was just 11. As an orphan, Fleming details Bond’s formative years living with his aunt, studying at Eton and skiing with Hannes Oberhauser (spoilers: father of Blofeld) before joining the Secret Service at 21.
The point being, there’s a lot of meat for Amazon to chew on here, and a series centred around an adolescent or early-career (pre-00 status) Bond could breathe new life into the franchise. A Young Bond book series, penned by Charlie Higson in the early 2000s, already exists, so there’s plenty of inspiration to go on.
Let’s just hope a TV series doesn’t turn out like The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles…
M in the field
Sticking with the prequel theme, it’d be interesting to see M – head of MI6 in all of Fleming’s novels and all 24 films – get more of a back-story. In The Man with the Golden Gun, M’s real name is revealed to be Miles Messervy, but Judi Dench’s later incarnation of the character suggests there’s scope for interpretation when it comes to the voice in Bond’s ear.
Shows like Pennyworth have proven there’s an appetite for stories centred around characters who have otherwise been side-lined by their showpiece counterparts – Batman and Bond are pretty touch acts to follow – so it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility to see a series focused on M kicking ass in various wars or snooping around as a Cold War-era assassin.
Unfortunately, we don’t expect to see a CGI-enhanced Judi Dench going back in time à la The Irishman, but it’d definitely be cool to see M get his (or her) day in the sun.
An animated anthology
This one’s a little left-field, but just imagine how cool it would be to see the Fleming books adapted into an animated anthology. The success of shows like Black Mirror and Love, Death and Robots has proven audiences’ willingness to embrace anthology storytelling, and what better way for Amazon to stamp its authority on the franchise than signing off on a Clone Wars-esque Bond series?
Sure, it might be a little ambitious to condense each story into a single episode, but we’re willing to compromise on multi-episode adventures that show us Bond as we’ve never seen him before. Archer is arguably the most appropriate source of inspiration here, although we’re not sure how its adult, sitcom-style humor would sit with 007’s explicit Britishness.
Still, the likes of Invincible and Castlevania show there's a real appetite for serious, adult animation, and Bond's best spy stories would make a great fit.
A Felix Leiter series
Like M, Felix Leiter has been kicking around alongside Bond from the beginning. As his CIA counterpart, he often provides the American pomp to Bond’s understated elegance, as well as occasional moments of bromance when the pair team up to take down Russian oligarchs, nefarious scientists and crooked financiers with dodgy eyes.
Depending on the novel you read (or film you watch), Leiter’s back-story is pretty crazy, too. Whether a prolific jazz journalist, US Marine or shark attack victim – which Fleming literally implies cost him an arm and a leg – he’s a man who wears many faces and dips in and out of the Bond-verse like Robin to Batman.
As much as we’re reluctant to be bludgeoned with yet another origin story, Felix Leiter clearly has some tales to tell. In any case, a character of his complexity deserves to at least appear shoulder-to-shoulder with Bond in future adventures – especially if Jeffrey Wright is willing to reprise the role from the Daniel Craig films. At the same time, US comics publisher Dynamite has published comics starring Leiter, so there's plenty of source material on the table.
A Bond villain satire
Perhaps overshadowed only by the opponents of Batman and the Jedi, the James Bond franchise boasts some pretty damn good villains. Dr. No, The Man with the Golden Gun, Jaws and Goldfinger are not just the titles of some of the best films of the 60s and 70s, but also the names of Bond’s most memorable adversaries.
Now, we’re not suggesting Amazon sanctions a Suicide Squad-type assembly of Bond’s most famous foes, but it would be a wasted opportunity to not capitalize, in some way, on 007’s iconic batch of baddies. Of all the characters in the franchise, it could be the villains that provide the avenue for some comedy content on the streamer – think Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil (a famous parody of Blofeld) or Robot Chicken: Star Wars’ take on Emperor Palpatine.
The likes of Jaws, Oddjob and Mister Big seem primed for this sort of re-skin, offering plenty of room for slapstick gags and incompetent villainy. A comedy series might also benefit from an anthology format, as mentioned above, with short episodes satirising iconic scenes from the films – we can already picture Auric Goldfinger angrily shouting “I expect you to die” as his laser repeatedly malfunctions.