Tuesday, 6 November 2012

James Bond and the LoEG - A Comparision Between Skyfall and 2009

Mild spoilers for Skyfall, which you should see, because it's awesome.

At the beginning of 2009, Orlando was charged with finding Mina Murray, who'd disappeared during the 1960s, so that they could band together and save the world from the Moonchild/AntiChrist/Harry Potter.

Unable to find her due to being out of the loop for some four odd decades, she decides to cash in her chips and go back to her old bosses in Mi5 to see if they have any leads for her.

Just a note before the scans, oddly Mi5 and Mi6 seem to be the same organisation within the LoEG universe, which isn't really true in real life. Mi5 (or Security Service, and yes they do occasionally sure the acronym) is, basically, anti-terrorism and counter espionage within the UK, while Mi6 (SIS) handles international things relating so said threats to the UK.

Mi6 doesn't have the legal authority to operate within the UK, hence the need for two organisations... BUT since the League books are based mainly within the UK, they are basically squashed into one organisation for the sake of dramatic convenience.

Anyways, back on with the scans!

The reason why I post these scans now is I saw Skyfall the other day, and I noticed an interesting series of parallels between the two, as well as subversions within the film itself that work a lot better than the Moore version.


- Within the films, Judi Dench took over the role of M (head of Mi6 in the Bondverse) in a portrayal that was based somewhat on the former head of Mi5 Eliza Manningham-Buller. Within the Leagueverse, the character of Emma Peel has risen through the ranks to fulfill a similar role to Dench's M, who in Skyfall is implied, if not outright stated, to be called... Emma.

- The above scans dsplay the theory that has been circling recently, that James Bond is actually a title within the Bondverse, and that each respective actor playing the part inherited the name after the previous agent died, retired etc. This is used to explain why George Lazenby's 007 quit after one outting, due to his wife dying, for example, and why characters like Q and M age while Bond stays the same age (or gets younger) every couple of years.

This theory doesn't make a whole lot of sense when you put your mnd to it (several subsequent Bond's after Lazenby's were mentioned to have had dead wives), but it was apparently well known enough that Die Another Day director Lee Tamahori was planning to insert into his movie but was overruled. BUT, within Skyfall they bring up the concept of agents with inherited names (the villain Raoul Silva is an ex-Mi6 agent with one, for example), and they do make several references to the adventures of previous Bonds (implied to have taken place in a contemporised form between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall) but they were all meant to be Daniel Craig's Bond's.

- An interesting parallel, albeit it a probably unintentional one, between 2009 and the Daniel Craig Bond movies is the move from stories being told around male characters to ones being told around female ones... Let me explain.

In Casino Royale the typical tropes surrounding Bond's relationships with women were subverted in the sense that it became less about Bond meeting several women over the course of the movie, (though Bond's womanising is present at least to start with) and more a developing romance between him and his colleague Vesper Lynn. Quantum of Solace's plot followed directly on from CR in it being entirely focused on Bond trying to find the group that caused Vesper's death, heck he didn't ever get a love interest in that movie because he was still focused on avenging the woman he was willing to retire from Mi6 for.

Skyfall continues this trend with, again, no actual love interest, and the entire plot being focused around Judi Dench's M, her past, character development and her relationship with Bond. Bond's parents died when he was very young, and within the context of the Daniel Craig films... M IS Bond's adoptive mother in a lot of ways, which makes their relationship interesting as mother/son relationships aren't really covered that much in media. Beyond unhealthy ones like Psycho, obviously. The latter, more common form of the mother/son relationship is reflected in the behaviour of Silva.

The shift from male centric stories to female ones is also a theme that is shared with 2009, which began with the metaphorical signalling of this shift with Orlando genderflipping from her male form to her female one. The story then proceeds to be driven for the remander of the book by Mina, Emma, and Orlando, with the male characters shifting into secondary roles for the majority of the plot. The shift in LoEG is certainly a lot more abrupt than the one in the Daniel Craig era of Bond films, but the shift is there if you're looking for it. Both 2009 and Craig era Bond also have the simularity of having competant leading female characters who having to be competant characters first and female second (probably wording this wrong, but they're Strong Characters who are female, not Strong Female Characters).

- And finally, Moore in 2009 picks up on the tired gag about how Bond's constant smoking, drinking and sleeping around would leave him a physical wreck eventually when talking about James Bond the First, actually gets a reference in Skyfall. Well not the smoking or STD thing, but after several years of dangerous, lifethreatening work in the field coupled with his drinking and mental issues pretty much get him almost declined a chance to come back to Mi6 after faking his death. The fact that he's physically deteriorated since his debut in Casino Royale (think Bruce Wayne in Dark Knight Rises for a comparison) is an interesting break from the usual mold, amongst several other departures from the standard Bond formula that are within the film.

Not least Bond saying that he'd had sex with men in the past, which is certainly something that would make Ian Fleming cough on his cigars and cognac, what with his bizarre ideas of non-hetro folk.

In short, although the Bond franchise hasn't exactly been very woman friendly in the past (this is an understatement, as Moore's meanspirited protrayal of Bond in the Black Dossier is meant to represent, but frankly he's one to talk considering his repeated use of Certain Tropes), Skyfall in particular breaks from the formula to allow people other than Bond a chance to develop on screen, in addition to greatly upping their game in their protrayal of female characters. Seriously, Judi Dench is excellent in this film (think a British, more benevolent Amanda Waller), as is Naomie Harris as Eve, who shows that Bond isn't the only competant 00 agent in Mi6 and goes on to become effectively Bond's platonic friend.

Also kind of amused that Craig's Bond is called a thug when he actually has an emotional range, unlike say Connery's.

No comments:

Post a Comment