Die Another Day Becomes Pierce Brosnan's Last Day as James Bond
|"Die Another Day."|
The James Bond franchise begins to go off the tracks again with "Die Another Day, and the marketing subtly reveals some of the issues. The key question of how to use women in the marketing - everyone in marketing is "used" - goes from a simmering, low-key pressure point to a flaming inferno of confusion. For those who have followed the James Bond film posters in progression on this blog, from first ("Dr. No") to this one, the odd film posters for "Die Another Day" will come as no great surprise, because they represent the culmination of experimentation that had been going on since the Timothy Dalton era. The subtle changes made in the first few Pierce Brosnan films (beginning with "Goldeneye") are now confirmed and even extended. The Bond Girls have moved from their supportive position behind James Bond to front and center. Indeed, they are actually standing beside him and firing with him, just as capably as he is firing. Some of the ads don't even feature Pierce Brosnan at all, just a gun on some ice, as if the producers are trying to hide him or think that he can't carry the picture.
|Where is James Bond? His name isn't even mentioned. Very curious.|
It is a complete turnabout from the Sean Connery days of James Bond, when the spy would roughly seduce a woman and then callously hold her as she got shot in the back ("Thunderball"), or the Roger Moore days, when he would vigorously throw his young lovely behind himself and step forward to take shots at the bad guys ("The Spy Who Loved Me"). It almost seemed, from the film posters for "Die Another Day," that the Pierce Brosnan version of James Bond needed all the fighting help he could get from the Bond girls around him. The subtle implication was that it was he, the pretty boy, who needed protection, not the Bond Girls.
I want to be clear that I'm not coming down on Pierce Brosnan. He wasn't responsible for marketing, and I'm sure he wanted to be as manly in the role as anyone. Clearly, others didn't want him to be. And I'm not necessarily the biggest fan of Daniel Craig's over-the-top portrayal of James Bond as some kind of superhero. My taste lies in between, more like the balanced Sean Connery and Roger Moore characterizations, heroics mixed with knowing banter. That mixture only looks better as time passes.
Needless to say, the weak portrayal of James Bond as a kind of girly man was not what many die-hard fans were expecting from the series. What exactly is the point of a James Bond spy who isn't in control? Sean Connery might have been in jeopardy from dominant females now and then ("Goldfinger"), but his movie posters didn't have the women taking shots to protect him. Having brought this "Bond as damsel in distress" theme as far as they could - what was next, the Bond girls standing in the front and Pierce in the background? Actually, look below, they already were actually going there - the Eon producers belatedly realized a change was in order. This explains why they made the abrupt transition back to the Sean Connery mold of a manly spy rather than a sort of "group hug" sleuth. Daniel Craig was waiting in the wings, and he would turn the entire James Bond dynamic around.