Rise of the ‘Scooby Gang’ in 007 films

SPECTRE publicity still featuring part of the fan-dubbed “Scooby Gang,” Tanner (Rory Kinnear), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw).

There’s a fan-generated 007 nickname that has gotten traction these days.

That would be the “Scooby Gang.” It’s shorthand for how supporting characters in the Eon Production film series join Bond out in the field. It’s based on the cartoon series Scooby-Doo, where the Scooby Gang of young people and a dog go out and solve mysteries together.

“Scooby Gang” was used in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, referring to the cartoon show.

Formerly, Bond was a lone-wolf. M would give 007 the mission. Q would provide some gadgets and Moneypenny would flirt before Bond departed the office.

That’s been changing for a while. In 1989’s Licence to Kill, Q (Desmond Llewelyn) goes rogue, as Bond (Timothy Dalton) has. He not only brings along some gadgets, he acts as 007’s assistant.

After Judi Dench came aboard as M in 1995’s GoldenEye, her character’s screen time expanded. That process started with 1999’s The World Is Not Enough where M’s kidnapping is a major aspect of the plot.

Finally, with 2012’s Skyfall, we got a rebooted Moneypenny (now with a first a name, Eve) who we initially see as a field agent. Also, the Judi Dench M scores more screen time than before because she’s a mother figure for both Bond (Daniel Craig) and the villain Silva (Javier Bardem).

In 2013, there was an early indication the Scooby Gang would come together in SPECTRE.

“Naomie Harris is getting more  of the action in the next James Bond film, which starts shooting next year,” Baz Bamigboye of the Daily Mail wrote in a story published on Sept. 12 of that year.

Director Sam Mendes, Craig, and producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson are all big fans of Naomie’s and don’t want her to be too desk-bound, as other Moneypennys have been.

‘The idea formulating in Bond-land is for Naomie to be much more of a sidekick to James, and for her to get out and harm the bad guys,’ an executive close to the production told me.

Meanwhile, Judi Dench/M perished at the end of Skyfall and was succeeded by Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), who has his own impressive military background.

By the end of SPECTRE, M, Moneypenny, Q (Ben Whishaw) and Tanner (Rory Kinnear) are all out in the field helping Bond. And, thus, the Scooby Gang nickname was born. It has appeared on 007 message boards and elsewhere on the internet.

Now, there has been recent fan speculation/questioning whether Fiennes can return to play Mallory/M because of other acting jobs.

In the “old days,” few fans wondered about the availability of Llewelyn, Bernard Lee or Lois Maxwell. The actors only had a few days of work and the focus was on Bond. Llewelyn was absent from Live And Let Die, but most of the publicity and fan attention was on Roger Moore’s debut as 007.

We’ll see what happens next. Meanwhile, here’s an amusing tweet from Phil Nobile Jr., former writer for Birth. Movies. Death and now editor of a new incarnation of Fangoria magazine. He’s a big 007 fan and has written extensively about Bond films in the past.

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Sam Mendes on Bond 24

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes did an April 11 interview on the PBS Charlie Rose show. He eventually got around to discussing Bond 24 and said the following:

–He came back to direct Bond 24 after Skyfall because “I started a number of stories that were incomplete. I cast the new M, I cast the new Moneypenny, I cast the new Q, I cast the new Tanner…There was a missing piece now. I felt there was a way to create the second part of a two-part story.” Bond 24 will be connected to Skyfall with the evolution of the characters but not “the actual narrative.”

–In Skyfall, “for the first time characters were allowed to age” in the Bond film series.

–A contributing factor to his returning for Bond 24 was that the producers were “willing to wait” and changed plans to do two films at once. John Logan was hired to write Bond 24 and Bond 25, with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer announcing the news in November. MGM and Sony last year announced an October 2015 release date in the U.K. and November 2015 for the U.S.

Mendes misspoke a bit. Rory Kinnear had been cast as Bill Tanner in 2008’s Quantum of Solace. In Skyfall, Ralph Fiennes’ Mallory took over as the new M and Naomie Harris’ Eve was revealed to be Moneypenny.

The director didn’t comment much beyond that, with much of the interview centering on a new stage production of Cabaret. You can see for yourself here: