James Bond doesn’t make sense. A constantly reinventing franchise with different leading men and supporting characters, variable and inconsistent technology and the same villains often played by different actors – in terms of canon it’s a complete mess.
Of course, this makes sense from our perspective – the characters are recast, and the films evolve as audiences do – but how does it all make sense within its own world? How could Judi Dench’s M know two different versions of Bond, and why did Daniel Craig’s incarnation dig out the gadget-filled Aston Martin in Skyfall when he’s never actually driven it?
Luckily for our obsessive sanity, one reddit user may have found a theory that ties it all together even better than the now-debunked “James Bond is a codename” idea – and it all comes down to one scene in Spectre, the latest of 007s adventures that hit screens last year.
The scene in question sees Bond tortured by Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld, with the villain drilling into the spy’s head to cause brain damage (specifically the part of the brain that deals with memory and facial recognition, which is important). However, Bond manages to escape the painful scene and basically shrugs off the torture, going on to take down Blofeld with his team before driving off into the sunset.
You may now be thinking what some fans had suggested before – “What if Bond never really escaped the chair, and is hallucinating the rest of the film?” – but this theory takes the idea even further. What if Bond hallucinated all the other James Bond films that didn’t star Daniel Craig?
As he sustains more and more brain damage, the theory suggests, Bond began to picture himself on various missions, but the details begin to slip. He imagines himself as a 60s-style spy with the Moneypenny, Q and M that he knows, but their appearances change because he can’t hold onto their faces. In fact he can’t even remember his own face, instead picturing the faces of Pierce Brosnan, Sean Connery et al.
All he does remember are basic settings (snowy mountains, extravagant lairs, beaches and so on) and the basics of what he did on the missions – so various people become the Blofeld he must defeat in a mountain base, and different but similar goons must be fought in the snow.
The theory even accounts for the variable technology in the James Bond franchise, ranging from the somewhat-realistic gadgets of the modern Daniel Craig era (which wouldn’t have been hallucinations) to the slightly more far-fetched invisible cars and space travel of previous incarnations.
So could this be true? It’s hard to say. While we appreciate any attempt to make sense of the James Bond mythos, there’s something a bit depressing about imagining its best movies as the product of 007’s damaged brain. And we can’t imagine many fans loving the idea that a so-so modern Bond film gets to rewrite the classics.
Still, one thing’s for sure – next time there’s a new Bond, we can definitely just dismiss it as Daniel Craig’s final death-fantasy. There’s some peace in that.