Back from the Dead

With all the turmoil going on with the Bond franchise as of late, the situation has me thinking. What has been the franchise’s greatest comeback? For a series that has seen several, I find myself leaning towards one, but shifting to another.

For example:

  • GoldenEye rises Bond from the ashes of a lengthy legal battle
  • Daniel Craig helps successfully reboot the series with Casino Royale
  • Sean Connery returns to play Bond in Diamonds Are Forever
  • Skyfall rebounds from Quantum of Solace criticisms and becomes the most successful Bond film
  • The Spy Who Loved Me giving the franchise a financial shot in the arm
  • etc.

I jump first to the GoldenEye return, naturally. However, the entirety of the Skyfall comeback and success is another solid argument to be made for.



GOLDENEYE ending the hiatus and starting with a new actor.

After LTK, its perceived failure and Bond - even for me - becoming a thing of the past, pushed away by newer action franchises, I thought it was over. GOLDENEYE was probably the most important film in the series because it put its foot down, once and for all, that Bond films can and will go on, no matter what.

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Goldeneye for sure. It ended the drought that had everyone thinking Bond was dead. Goldeneye proved Bond could endure and thrive in a post-Cold War world.

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While I was never as fond of GOLDENEYE as many other fans I have to agree: this was ultimate proof the Bond brand was still alive and attracting new generations of fans - and the younger ones often hadn’t even seen a Bond film at the cinema before.

GOLDENEYE changed some of the dynamics of 007 - a new iteration of a familiar theme - but it kept the fundamentals of Bond and introduced him to a market that was actually waiting for him without realising it. If not for this carefully conceived restart Bond could have joined the ranks of Tarzan, the Lone Ranger and Charlie Chan.


I had and have a similar reaction. While I still love the tank chase I think GOLDENEYE as a film is highly overrated, plodding at times, too on the nose with the update of the character, and overstaying its welcome.

But it remains a most important milestone for the series because it connected with worldwide audiences. Mainly, I believe, because there was a need for Bond to reappear, a mix of nostalgia and the yearning for a more civilized action hero.


Well said. Goldeneye provided a solid launch pad into the modern era.

They wisely took a greatest hits approach for most of the film and thankfully it worked. If it flopped, the franchise would’ve been in a dire position in terms of perception. We probably wouldn’t even be talking about 2006’s Casino Royale. I do think Skyfall was desperately needed after Quantum of Solace, which is remarkable to say considering Casino Royale was only one film prior.

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I wonder why QOS is so often considered by the press as a failure. It clearly was a huge success at the box office.

Maybe it was just another round of “we praised one (CR), but now, c´mon, you shouldn’t get cocky, so we will return with our disdain”.

SF came not two, but three years later - but was there ever a question whether Bond would return, despite some legal wrangling in the meantime?


Definitely GE for me. The Dalton films were the duldrums for me (dalton could’ve been great, but they were at first afraid to take risks and after they did with LTK they then put down tools.

GE not only brought bond back, but did so with a director with so much energy and scope and an actor who seemed young enough to plausibly run and jump for 2 hours straight. It was fun, exciting and smart (‘Relic if the Cold War’) all at once.

It’s the only movie I’ve ever seen in which the audience cheered at points (escaping death at the end of the PTS and at the end.

I don’t think so, no.

QUANTUM OF SOLACE was a slight disappointment insofar as a talented newcomer director delivered a too conventional action piece with only a few brilliant scenes and a clearly underdeveloped script that lacked a true centre. The title song was controversial and the cult of the CraignotBond Church still railed against the whole direction. But as far as the larger audience was concerned the film was smashing good fun. The real controversy around QOS unfolded in fan circles - here and elsewhere - where every entry is given scrutiny and criticism in abundance.

From a sober and realistic point of view I don’t think the series was in any real danger back then. To the contrary, they were so confident and sure of their product Eon and Craig were willing to wait for Mendes. If there had been real concerns - the way one might suspect is now the case - then the gap would surely not have been extended. After all, Mendes was hardly the only director willing to make a Bond film.

Why then is SKYFALL perceived as a big ‘comeback’? Because it reintroduced so many of the classic elements fans were clamouring for since the last frames of CASINO ROYALE: Moneypenny, Q, male M, very strong villain - even a leap back into the classic timeline with the GOLDFINGER gadgets in Bond’s toy car.


I have to agree with the (seeming) consensus here and give it to GE despite my general apathy towards that film.

DAF didn’t “resurrect” the series though it did buy it some time after what had been perceived as a wrong turn. I view it as a bit of “do-over.” The next time Connery passed the baton, it would go more smoothly. At least from a commercial standpoint.

TWSLM qualifies as a “comeback” of sorts, in that it returned Bond to the cultural spotlight after a string of films that suggested he was merely a relic of the 60s who’d hung on too long. But it didn’t so much “bring back” the series as give it a second wind.

CR would only qualify as a “comeback” in terms of critical acclaim. After the Brosnan run, the series didn’t seem at all in need of “rescuing” from a commercial standpoint, even if by DAD it was pretty bankrupt creatively.

I’d agree that SF was better than QoS, but not THAT much better. And anyway, the series has a long history of strong entries following weaker ones, so this one doesn’t really stand out for me.

GE is the only one that qualifies as a true “comeback” for me. Six years is an unparalleled gap between releases (though EON seems determined to equal it, lately) and after LTK, which pretty much came and went without most of the world noticing or caring, having GE garner so much attention pretty much ensured the series would continue.

Some days I’m not so sure that’s a good thing, mind you, but still.


Yeah, pretty much. Let it be known I’m a big fan of Quantum of Solace and don’t consider it ‘James Bourne’. But the impression I had in the aftermath was the franchise needed another Casino Royale type film with a stronger dose of the traditional elements. It was time. The ongoing future of the franchise was not threatened, but in terms of perception, Skyfall provided the Craig era another shot in the arm.

It has to be Goldeneye for me. I honestly thought the Bond series was over until I heard the great news that it was back in 1994.

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Anybody remember this 2010 Entertainment Weekly cover story?

“Is James Bond dead?”

Angle of that story was primarily MGM’s woes if memory serves. Even in that linked snippet they admit MGM could sell its share of Bond. Which somehow contradicts the Goodbye claim. Most of us were around at the time and I think my recollection is that we expected a delay, maybe even a protracted one.

But an end to Bond? No, not seriously. Even if Craig had walked - which some hoped for - there was no doubt for me we’d get a new Bond film in time.

Sorry, this EW title didn’t reflect my opinion on the matter. And most of us were around at the time - we didn’t close shop here at CBn.

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GE hands down.

It’s the only true “comeback” on the list. At most you can make a case that the others were “re-sets” (or in DAF’s case, re-re-set).

That said, I am going to say that TSWLM is an important stepping stone in the franchise’s history. Cubby on his own, TMWTGG not well-received critically (and to be fair on the OP he referred to QoS as a critical failure, not a financial),and ironically the start of the legal issues that continue to plague the series.

TSWLM was a critic pleaser and a crowd-pleaser in very much the same way that GE was 20 years later, a shot in the financial arm, yes, but I’d say even more than that. TSWLM is, like GE, and like CR, very clear moments when the franchise reconnects with it’s core fans, as well as being an entry-point for a whole set of new ones.


I do remember CBn discussing this at the time. Consensus was that it was blatant hack journalism.

Couldn’t find the article earlier. Here it is.

Our own Zencat had a great comeback: “Bond is going to be just fine. But you know what IS going to die? Print magazines like Entertainment Weekly. Frankly, I’m amazed it’s even still around.”