“Bond, James Bond.” It’s a line as ubiquitous today as when Sean Connery, film’s original 007, first uttered it in 1962’s “Dr. No,” setting the tone for one of the longest-running and best-known franchises of all time.
The iconic status of Bond has remained unwavering since author Ian Fleming first gave life to the character in his popular novels, the first of which, “Casino Royale,” came out in 1953. Fleming’s own life and escapades as a British naval intelligence officer, which served as a basis for the M16 agent he created in his fiction are explored in this month’s BBC America miniseries “Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond.”
The series, which stars Dominic Cooper as Fleming, is just the latest installment in six decades’-worth of Bond-related material. The dapper, intrepid character – complete with high-tech gadgets, high tolerance for alcohol, and penchant for women with sexually suggestive names like Pussy Galore – remains the world’s quintessential spy, whose cars, guns, and good looks further add to his notoriety.
While Bond himself has not changed that much over time, the way audiences connect with him has. 007 has appeared in almost every medium, from books and films to video games, television and radio adaptations, and even his own comic strip. There’s no shortage of Bond merchandise, either – even including a line of James Bond 007 fragrances available for men hoping to smell, according to the brand’s website, “refined yet dangerously sophisticated.
Since first appearing in the pages of Fleming’s books, Bond’s momentum has been unstoppable. Fleming wrote a dozen novels and two short story collections featuring 007, who shared his golf handicap and love of gambling. Since Fleming’s death, 50 years ago, multiple authors have published dozens of books continuing the series, and a number of film novelizations, short stories, and spinoffs have been written, as well. “The Moneypenny Diaries” features the personal secretary of Bond’s boss, M.
It is the big screen, of course, that has brought 007 the most recognition. With total box office revenue of over $6 billion, the Bond films are the second-highest-grossing film series (“Harry Potter” is first), and the series’ latest installment, 2012’s “Skyfall,” is the eighth-highest grossing film of all time. Eon Productions has produced 23 official Bond films. and three non-Eon films have been released, as well. Six actors have portrayed Bond in the Eon series; the latest, Daniel Craig, took over the role for 2006’s “Casino Royale” and played him in 2008’s “Quantum of Solace” and “Skyfall.” Craig is slated to reprise his role for two more Bond films, the next of which is tentatively scheduled to be released in fall of 2015.
The longevity and iconic status of the Bond franchise has served as inspiration to a wide array of other works, from the 1960s television show “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” to the popular Jason Bourne books and films. Parodies, such as “Johnny English” and Mike Myers’s “Austin Powers” movies, poke fun at the superspy. Clearly, Bond has kept the culture shaken and stirred.Eryn Carlson can be reached at email@example.com.