While the James Bond codename theory has been debunked as recently as Skyfall, a new fan theory posits a way in which it could still be true.
While the James Bond codename theory has been debunked as recently as Skyfall, a new fan theory posits a way in which it could still be true. For years, fans have theorized that “James Bond” is actually an alias, handed down from agent to agent, and that the Bond franchise exists in one long continuity. After all, it would make sense for a secret agent to use an alias instead of his own birth name. While this theory would account for the changing face of Bond over the decades, from the late Sean Connery through to Daniel Craig, it doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny given details present in multiple Bond movies. That said, a new theory concerning Skyfall’s Silva (Javier Bardem) suggests a way in which the codename idea can be reinstated.
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It’s worth noting that continuity wasn’t seen as particularly important when the Bond franchise started out: obviously at odds with modern notions of cinematic universes and an increased obsession with both legacy and lore. As such, the Bond films jump in and out of continuity pretty freely for most of their run. Bond’s wife (Diana Rigg), for example, appears and dies in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but is referenced in subsequent movies with different actors in the lead role – suggesting that they are meant to be the same person and aren’t using an alias. Additionally, Skyfall features a return to Bond’s childhood home, with his parents’ gravestones confirming the “Bond” surname and, thus, disproving the codename theory – at least, temporarily.
In 2015, blogger D. F. Lovett presented a fan theory that aims to reinstate the codename idea, with Skyfall’s villain playing a crucial role. His theory posits that “James Bond” is, indeed, a codename, but that Bond isn’t aware of the fact due to intense brainwashing. According to Lovett, Silva – a former MI6 agent with links to M (Judi Dench) – is actually the “only other living James Bond”, but withholds this information from Daniel Craig’s Bond. Silva repeatedly refers to himself and Bond as “rats”, tortured and caged by M, though much of the evidence Lovett provides for him being a previous Bond hinge on subtleties within Bardem’s performance.
Crucially, Lovett suggests that Bond’s childhood home – the titular Skyfall – is the site where they were both brainwashed by MI6 into believing that they were “James Bond”. This explains the presence of the family gravestones – both fake – and Silva’s desire for revenge against M. This also explains details like Judi Dench appearing as M with different Bond actors (Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig) and why some iterations of Bond retain the “memories” of others. In 2020, Lovett announced that Spectre re-confirmed his theory – with the film’s villain, Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), as either another victim of brainwashing or the person who did the brainwashing in the first place. Taking Lovett’s theory further, certain Bond films could actually be the fake “memories” that MI6 planted inside the heads of multiple agents – though determining which movie is real and which is fake opens up a whole other can of crazy worms.
Whether the upcoming No Time To Die will re-confirm or debunk the brainwashing theory obviously remains to be seen, but has been rumored to feature Craig’s Bond passing on the 007 title to a new agent who will continue in the same timeline – perhaps Bond will also pass on his name, with other agents finally using it as an alias. Given the James Bond franchise’s reactionary nature, it’s likely that their healthy disregard for continuity will soon be a thing of the past – with shared universes and homogenization seemingly the new cinematic standard. That said, it’s difficult not to cling to the more esoteric approach once-favored by franchise filmmakers. After all, who can deny an approach which inspires such wonderfully bizarre fan theories as Lovett’s brainwashing scheme?
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