“No, that doesn’t work”: Skyfall Originally Planned Daniel Craig’s James Bond be Paired Up With Another ‘Alpha Male’ Character

Skyfall teaches the audience that great emotion can be conveyed through great storytelling but only when it is done right.

daniel craig, skyfall, james bond

SUMMARY

  • Skyfall is one of the best James Bond film in the franchiseʼs history and Sam Mendes is the reason why.
  • Skyfall breaks a record in the entire James Bond franchise by showing us an iconic characterʼs on-screen death for the first time.
  • Sam Mendes rejected a team-up opportunity for 007 in order to preserve the characterʼs unique personality and lone-wolf identity.
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It is one of the great pleasures of life to acknowledge that the current generation of movie buffs and fans of classic IPs are living in the golden era of Hollywood. Whether itʼs a renaissance of comic book adaptations, a complete reinvention of the James Bond IP through Daniel Craig, or the live-action re-enactment of universes crafted by George R.R. Martin, J.R.R. Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling, the 21st century brings with it an epoch of unbridled, uncorrupted, and unstoppable creativity.

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Skyfall Lodge
Skyfall [Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures]
However, creativity can extend only so far if the human imagination does not allow us to feel emotions both high and low. With the euphoria of winning a great battle must also come the blow of death and great loss. Movies can make us feel both within the span of a few hours and they can take us to the stars and beyond in a few seconds.

But at the end of the day, if a story has no emotional core to it, a film will fail to resonate with its audience, thus failing to serve its only true purpose – to move the viewers enough to make us feel every emotion on the spectrum. Very few films can accomplish that feat and Skyfall is one of them.

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Skyfall Reinvents James Bond, Changes the Spy Film Genre

With every new genre of a Hollywood franchise, the possibility of encountering great stories and unimaginable worlds increases a thousandfold. A fraction of that wide-eyed wonder is felt in Daniel Craigʼs third outing as 007 in Skyfall – a film that was not only transformative but also revolutionary for the filmʼs characters, the audience, and the James Bond franchise as a whole.

Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall (2012)
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall [Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures]
Directed by Sam Mendes, the dark and gritty realism that gripped the movie from its very beginning changed the esoteric, escapist, and entertaining nature of the spy film genre. Mendes and Craig showed the audience how much could be achieved with an IP as universally recognized and treasured as James Bond with only a minor tweak to the character – making him human instead of the mythic, immortal superspy he is otherwise known to be.

As Skyfall progressed, the tension rose and the stakes increased along with the audienceʼs volatile emotions. With the fall of Judi Denchʼs M came the final revelation that the characters of Ian Flemingʼs creation are mortal after all, and the emotional blow that comes with the end of a legacy lasts a lifetime despite the fact that these fictional characters can be endlessly reincarnated.

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Sam Mendes Saved James Bond From a Team-Up Shtick

The gothic nature of Sam Mendesʼs Skyfall gives the James Bond franchise a new do-over for the very first time in the spy epicʼs history ever since Sean Connery first donned the 007 suit. Although Daniel Craig successfully transported the IP from its mid-20th century origin to a more hospitable and progressive 21st century, the shortcomings of the Hollywood studio system often hold James Bond back from truly living up to its fullest potential.

Daniel Craig in Skyfall [Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures]
Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem as James Bond and Raoul Silva [Credit: MGM/Columbia Pictures]
Skyfall was almost relegated to a similar fate if the studio system was to be trusted. The numerous iterations of the third Craig-Bond script went through vast changes during its early drafts before Sam Mendes could settle on The One. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Mendes revealed:

At a very early stage, there was a treatment — which was almost entirely ditched — but ended with the death of M. And that was one of the things that hooked me in. That one decision, in a sense, changed the entire franchise. It acknowledged the passage of time, arguably for the first time ever, in the series. It acknowledged that they are mortal, that they are going to age and probably die.

But while this iteration drew Sam Mendes in, tempting him to curate a grim tale of epic proportions, there were other variations to the script that threw him off completely. Speaking of the antagonistic relationship of James Bond and Javier Bardemʼs psychopathic villain, Raoul Silva, Mendes claims:

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They teamed up in the middle of the movie, in a kind of uneasy truce. And it didn’t work because Bond works alone. He might have a woman at his side or partner with one along the way, but it didn’t feel right to be paired with another alpha male. [Bond] needs someone to fight against, and I read it and thought: ‘No, that doesn’t work.’

Sam Mendesʼs foresight on that end not only saved James Bondʼs unique personality but also gave Skyfall the look and feel of an epic Greek tragedy that makes it one of the most durable films of the 007 franchise. To date, Skyfall ranks among the top five highest-rated films in the James Bond IP and the top three in Daniel Craigʼs career filmography.

Skyfall is available for streaming on Max.

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Written by Diya Majumdar

Articles Published: 1625

With a degree in Literature from Miranda House, Diya Majumdar now has over 1600 published articles on FandomWire. Her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema while being a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for music, Monet, and Van Gogh.