entertainment

Why James Bond is a British icon

Sp: From blockbuster films to trailblazing video games, Bond's impact on pop culture is unmistakable

2021-01-14

Pictures: pexels/pixabay/shutterstock.com

Even if you haven’t seen any of the movies, James Bond is embedded so deeply in British culture that it’s impossible not to conjure up an image of the dashing and dapper spy. Sporting a tuxedo and a Martini in hand, he is the quintessential image of British style and sophistication.

Being chosen to play the iconic character is considered a huge honour among British actors, and there are many who would give their right arm to be part of the franchise.

To date, six different actors have officially played James Bond, with a further eight appearing in non-canon instalments such as radio plays and video games. As it stands, current Bond actor, Daniel Craig, has held the role the longest, starring in five of the films since 2006.

The first film, Dr No, was released in 1962, with the late Sean Connery bringing his interpretation of the debonair secret agent to our screens. No other movie franchise has run for so long or included as many films.

While the thrilling storylines, gripping stunt sequences, and stunning locations, all help to make the films successful, it’s the eponymous character himself which keeps viewers coming back time and time again.

So why is James Bond such an icon? The character has everything – a glamourous job, luck with the ladies, confidence, wit, and dashing good looks. It’s that kind of universal appeal that has kept Bond popular and relevant.

Worldwide appeal

James Bond’s iconic title are instantly recognisable all over the world

Bond might be the quintessential British hero, but his popularity isn’t confined to our shores alone. In America, the titular spy is recognised as cinema’s first big screen action hero, and everyone who followed, from Indiana Jones to Han Solo, owes their creation to his success.

And it’s not just in the states - globally, the Bond films are the second most successful film franchise of all time – only just knocked off the top spot by a certain infamous wizard.

One of the reasons why the films have maintained their success is their ability to update and move with the times. While Connery’s Bond portrayal was absolutely a product of the 1960s in his demeanour and attitude, especially towards women, Craig’s representation is more in line with modern values – less misogyny, more Martinis.

Bond in games

At the time of its release, Goldeneye was hailed for its ground-breaking gameplay.

Video games based on movies are not uncommon – it’s a great way to cash in on the success and popularity of an existing product after all. So it’s hardly surprising that one of the first, and arguably the best, video game movie adaptations was 1997’s Goldeneye for the Nintendo 64.

Finally, all those fans who had dreamed about being Bond could step into his shoes, shooting bad guys, solving puzzles and saving the day. A year later, a follow-up release for Gameboy included playable gambling minigames such as baccarat and blackjack.

The relationship between Bond and gambling lives on in a series of slot machines which have licensed imagery from the franchise. Developed by Scientific Games and based on different movies, they are available to play online.

Bond in casinos

One thing about Bond which hasn’t changed over the decades is how at ease he is within the casino. While baccarat is cited as his favourite, 2006’s Casino Royale proved that he’s also a dab hand at poker.

Bond’s love of gambling has seen him travel the world and indulge in more than a few games in exotic locations like the Bahamas, Las Vegas, Monaco and Macau. A fair few Bond girls also feature in these scenes, often being won over by his gambling prowess.

His love of glamorous casinos and talent for gambling are integral elements of Bond’s suave image. In the 2006 hit, we first meet the latest Bond at Le Cercle Casino in London. There’s every possibility viewers are better drawn to the glitz of the casino thanks to seeing their favourite spy try his hand in world famous casinos.

There is no doubt that the James Bond franchise has had a positive impact on the industry, with proven online providers attracting huge numbers of players wanting to channel their inner-James Bond while playing classic, exciting casino games.

The future of Bond

Many people thought that thew Bond franchise had petered out in the 1990s, but Daniel Craig’s modern Bond has proved that there is plenty of steam left in the character. As the image of the ideal male model shifts and changes, James Bond will also morph to keep up, so intrinsically is he tied to this idea.

With stronger female roles already added and calls for more inclusivity – such as Ben Whishaw’s demand for a substantial gay character to be included in the next movie – James Bond’s appeal is widening. In fact, it’s estimated that as much as 20% of the global population has seen at least one Bond film.

With Craig announcing that he has filmed his last outing as Bond, the general public are once again full of ideas as to who should replace him.

Current fan favourite is British hunk, Idris Elba, who hasn’t done much to play down the speculation that he is next in line. He certainly fits the character requirements – he’s sexy, suave, has an action movie pedigree – not to mention that he looks great in a tuxedo.

But with No Time to Die still waiting for its release, it looks like it will be a while yet before studios start to think about the next incarnation of the definitive British Icon.