About that No. 1 spoiler for No Time to Die

No Time to Die poster

YES, there be spoilers. So if you’re spoiler sensitive, stop reading now. This is your last warning. To make what seems like an obvious point to me, spoilers are necessary for this post. I gave this post the most bland title to avoiding giving things away.

No Time to Die wraps up a five-movie arc featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond. It’s a self-contained Bond universe that (mostly) doesn’t concern the previous 20 Eon Productions movies.

Eon Productions got the idea in the middle of the arc (in between Skyfall and SPECTRE). Still, it’s now official these films are their own thing. That’s much the way that Christopher Nolan’s three Batman movies are their own thing, not related to any other Batman films.

Whether Eon wants to admit it or not, the makers of the Bond film series are following the same path set by Fox and Marvel movies featuring Marvel comic book characters

With 2015’s SPECTRE, Eon specifically adapted interconnected storytelling featured in movies made by Walt Disney Co.’s Marvel Studios. With No Time to Die, Eon has doubled down on that concept.

2017’s Logan (made by Fox before it was absorbed by Disney), we had the final Hugh Jackman adventure as Logan/Wolverine. In 2019’s Avengers: Endgame, we had the concluding tale of Tony Stark/Iron man (Robert Downey Jr.), ending an arc of more than a decade.

The concept, of course, is The Hero’s Last Stand. The hero falls, but falls heroically. The audience weeps.

When executed well, it works.

To be clear, The Hero’s Last Stand goes back a long time. It was included in genres as diverse as Biblical epics (Samson and Deliah) and Westerns (Ride the High Country and The Shootist). But Bibical movies and Westerns aren’t popular anymore.

But comic book films are.

For example, Tony Stark makes the ultimate sacrifice to save those who matter the most to him. Sound familiar?

Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron about to make the ultimate sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame (2019)

You may respond that’s a coincidence. No, it’s not.

The tabloids ran stories in 2018 and 2019 speculating about whether Bond 25 would kill off Craig’s Bond. They also had stories asking whether Eon or Danny Boyle, No Time to Die’s original director wanted to kill Bond off.

The Sun said in August 2018 that Boyle quit because he did not want to kill off Bond. The Daily Star said in April 2019 that it was Boyle who wanted Bond “to die in the arms of returning Bond girl Lea Seydoux in the 25th spy movie Shatterhand.” (Oops.)

Regardless, we now know that somebody did. The notion of Bond dying has been in plain sight for more than three years.

To be sure, movies can have similar themes and still be good. High Noon and Rio Bravo featured western lawmen who were outnumbered by the bad guys. But the two movies had considerably different takes on the same notion.

Many Bond fans despise Marvel films. Many fans are in denial that Bond has been adapting Marvel film concepts (including Eon boss Barbara Broccoli).

Of course, it also works the way around. Both Nolan’s Batman movies and Marvel’s film output have been influenced by Bond. Example: Look at casino scenes in 2012’s Skyfall and 2018’s Black Panther, for example.

Regardless, all still comes down to execution. So how does No Time to Die’s version of The Hero’s Last Stand compare?

When I finally saw it, I’d have to say very well. The ending had been spoiled for me. Not in a, “I stumbled it while surfing the internet” way but hearing it presented to me full on. Nevertheless, watching it for the first time, it felt genuinely emotional.

You may disagree. And that’s fine. The thing is, Bond’s exit in No Time to Die is not brand-new territory.

6 Responses

  1. Wow, a five movie “story arc” is a subtle distinction from the franchise itself. Even ST-TOS wrapped itself up in a final five movie send-off. If this happened within the MFU-NE (new edition) universe, I’d be pretty upset knowing the spoiler already. Which is why I saw MFU-2015 the minute it premiered. Even so I understand how Bond fans are seeking out answers / hints proactively, all the time. And that it’s all about publicity. But still. Who wants to see the end of their Bond Universe? Even if it is Craig. Is the suspense supposed to be about how will they continue? Or does the premise now rely on the ability to go back in time, in order to keep creating stories? In fandom, fanfiction, that happens all the time of course.

  2. Also, Bond and Tony Stark leave behind a female offspring.

  3. I forced my sons to sit through all the credits for this post: “James Bond will return.” Whether that is a resurrection type promise like in Skyfall or a Fleming-esque a la TMWTGG, which would be really cool, IDK. In 1986, as an assignment for a screenwriting course I was taking at a local university, I wrote the opening scene for the next Bond movie, which was eventually TLD. In my version, Bond was injured when his parachute ripped apart by an exploding missile and he had a hard landing, and was captured by the Russians. This would explain his changed face in the first scene, where he tries to kill M like in the novel, TMWTGG. They could certainly do something akin to this. He lived through another explosion in NTTD. Maybe by then there will be a vaccine for nanobots. (I personally don’t want to see Swann again, but the little girl was ridiculously cute.)

  4. Intriguing. According to what I’ve only looked up anyway. Is this a fan fiction detail or part of the online JBU?

  5. […] I said in a post a few days ago, No Time to Die is the latest version of “The Hero’s Last Stand.” […]

  6. […] especularse razones por las cuales escritores y productores decidieron matar a Bond. Para algunos, es una nueva iteración del tópico sacrificio del héroe, visto recientemente en Logan y […]

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