Die Another Day Originally Confirmed 007 Codename Theory

Die Another Day may be seen by many as a lesser Bond, but the movie almost confirmed the theory that James Bond is a codename for different agents.

Die Another Day may be seen by many critics as a less than stellar outing, but the 2002 movie almost confirmed a popular fan theory that James Bond is actually a codename for numerous different agents. With 24 movies to his name thus far – and a 25th on the way in the form of the eternally delayed No Time To Die – James Bond is one of cinema’s most ubiquitous secret agents. The fact that the super-spy has been played by six different actors over the decades he’s spent onscreen has been a huge help in securing this achievement.

It is franchise tradition for the Bond series to replace each actor playing the spy when he ages out of the role or simply wants to pursue other projects. The influential original Bond star Sean Connery was first replaced by George Lazenby – though the actor famously departed the series after only one entry – who was subsequently replaced by Roger Moore, and so on. However, the fact that Bond’s face has changed so many times over the years has given rise to a popular theory that one of the lesser entries of the franchise almost made canon.

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Related: James Bond: How Never Say Never Again’s Title Mocked Sean Connery

The 2002 Pierce Brosnan vehicle Die Another Day was the actor’s last time playing the part and for good reason, with the movie being critically dismissed upon release due to its corny humor and far-fetched story elements that left it feeling more like an Austin Powers movie. The dramatic tonal shift of 2006’s grim origin story Casino Royale was intended to redress this balance, as audiences had grown weary of Bond’s constant punning and silly gadgetry. Before the Bourne-influenced Daniel Craig era, Die Another Day almost confirmed a popular fan theory that “James Bond” is a codename given to certain MI6 agents. Originally, the film was supposed to include a cameo from Sean Connery, with the actor reprising his iconic role and thus confirming the theory by appearing alongside Brosnan’s Bond.

Sean Connery’s Missing Die Another Day Cameo

Much like the later, more serious Skyfall from 2012, the creators of Die Another Day wanted to approach the OG Bond for a cameo. Skyfall director Sam Mendes wanted Connery to play the groundskeeper at the estate where Bond grew up – a role that eventually went to Bourne stalwart Albert Finney – so, while the actor’s appearance may have been distracting to audiences, it wouldn’t have messed with continuity. In contrast, the Die Another Day cameo director Lee Tamhori wanted would have seen Connery reprise his role as 007.

This daring cameo could have run the risk of taking audience members out of the movie’s action even more than Connery’s proposed Skyfall appearance, since it would have directly addressed the meta-question of how James Bond’s face keeps changing and why none of his co-workers notice. What the scene wouldn’t have done is explain why Miss Moneypenny, M, and Q also change faces, although the later Craig movies did address this by clarifying the latter two monikers are codenames.

How the James Bond Codename Theory Affects The Series

James Bond Actors

As proven by the massive online reaction to the revelation Lashana Lynch will play 007 in No Time To Die, fans of the franchise have long desired to know whether 007 and James Bond are the same person or different entities. With this development, the Craig-era movies are clarifying that Bond is one person and 007 is a codename passed down to others, but many still believe James Bond is also a codename. Confirming this theory could also open the franchise up to casting more diverse actors in the role.

Related: The James Bond Villain David Bowie Almost Played (And Why He Wasn’t Cast)

Understandably, James Bond franchise devotees are eager for the theory to be proven right, since the Craig movies have illustrated a lot of character details that wouldn’t make much sense if he was the same person as past incarnations. For one thing, the backstory of the character growing up in the eponymous Skyfall estate only works for Craig’s Bond given the age of Judi Dench’s M in comparison to Connery or Moore. Spectre’s revelation that Blofeld is related to Bond would also make no sense if he’s the same character as the early movies. The series could theoretically hire an actor of color to fill the role if Bond were a codename, something many viewers feel is overdue and would be made even easier by confirming the name is not intended to be one individual.

Why Die Another Day Was Right To Drop the Plot

However, as clever a reveal as this might have been, Die Another Day was definitely the wrong movie for the revelation to occur in. Famously campy and occasionally outright cringeworthy, Die Another Day’s worst moments were the fan service scenes that expanded on the James Bond mythos. This includes the regrettable inclusion of Moneypenny fantasizing about a VR Bond, and the movie likely would have turned the codename reveal into an irritating, self-referential joke instead of the series-shifting bombshell it should be. If Connery had appeared as Bond and Die Another Day had exposed the character’s name as a codename, the movie’s plot wouldn’t have centered around this reveal and it could easily have been lost in the mix of the 2002 film’s  busy story.

The cameo would have been a surprise but little else, and the reveal would have lost its punch without the series making use of its potential implications. However, if a newer Bond movie like the upcoming No Time To Die attempted the same revelation with a more serious and grounded tone, it could bolster support for a more diverse Bond actor replacing Craig. The tone of the James Bond series is now dark enough to tackle the idea that countless men over the decades have given up their own identities and become Bond until they were retired, replaced or killed. What might have been a smug self-aware joke in Die Another Day could still potentially be a killer twist for a new Bond movie.

More: James Bond Still Needs to Steal One Thing From Jason Bourne

  • No Time to Die/James Bond 25 (2021)Release date: Oct 08, 2021

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