Does No Time to Die trailer confirm fan theory that another classic Bond villain is returning?

If the answer is yes, then the answer is No

Rami Malek - No Time to Die

The explosive full trailer for the 25th official Bond movie, No Time to Die, has finally dropped – and while it either confirms some fan theories about the film (Blofeld’s back!) and heavily hints at others (Lashana Lynch’s Nomi is confirmed as a 00 agent, though not necessarily the new 007), there’s another rumour doing the rounds that it appears to endorse.

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The lack of information available about Rami Malek’s villain has some fans speculating that, much like Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld in Spectre, he might be a classic Bond antagonist in disguise – namely Dr. No. (Malek’s character has been named as “Safin”, but then Waltz was originally billed as playing “Franz Oberhauser” in Spectre, so that doesn’t mean very much.)

The film’s director Cary Fukunaga is suspiciously tight-lipped when it comes to Malek’s bad guy, only describing him as “hyper intelligent and a worthy adversary” (via Empire).

But what’s the reasoning behind this Dr. No theory, beyond just the fact that No Time to Die is set to be Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007 – the end of an era – and so resurrecting the franchise’s very first villain (originally played by Joseph Wiseman in 1962) would make for a neat bookend?

In the 1962 film, Dr Julius No is established as working for terrorist conglomerate SPECTRE, and with Blofeld – the head of the organisation – returning as MI6’s captive in No Time to Die, it makes sense not only that SPECTRE will play a role in the new movie but that one of Blofeld’s subordinates will have stepped up to run things in his absence.

Joseph Wiseman as Dr. No
Joseph Wiseman in 1962’s ‘Dr No’
Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Dr No – both the character and the movie – are also based in Jamaica, where Craig’s Bond is now based having given up his licence to kill at the end of Spectre.

There’s also a separate, though now possibly linked, rumour doing the rounds that No Time to Die might kill off Bond’s ally Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) – a fear that’s hardly assuaged by the new trailer, which features the character in just one brief scene.

Felix appears in Ian Fleming’s Dr. No novel and survives, though it’s entirely possible that No Time to Die could merge the characters of Felix and Strangways, another spy whose murder by No sends Bond off on a mission of vengeance in the book.

Then of course, the title of the film itself might provide a clue to Safin’s true identity – “No” Time to Die… geddit?

You could argue that the physical differences between the masked, scarred Safin and how No appeared in his first screen appearance, or how he’s described in Fleming’s novel, disprove the theory. Not only that, but the new trailer implies that Safin could be somehow linked to Bond’s beau Madeline Swann (Léa Seydoux), something with no basis in the books.

But then again, Spectre presented us with a radically reinvented version of Blofeld, one who was now Bond’s foster brother, a plot point which again features nowhere in the source material.

What’s really got us suspecting that the theory might have some actual weight to it, though, is a scene featuring Bond and Safin that’s glimpsed in the trailer.

“History isn’t kind to men who play God,” a tense Bond tells his opponent. It’s a warning that very much recalls one of the most famous exchanges between Sean Connery’s Bond and No, after the villain has laid out his deranged scheme.

“World domination – same old dream,” mocks Bond. “Our asylums are full of people who think they’re Napoleon. Or God.”

Is this the biggest clue yet that Safin is indeed an old foe given new life? There’s still four months to wait till we find out for sure. But the answer is either no…. or No.

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No Time to Die is out in cinemas on 3rd April 2020