With Amazon talking about the possibility of Bond spin-offs I thought there should be a thread on the subject. I’m sure a few of you are preparing to reply with ‘Bond spin-offs are a bad idea,’ so I’ll save us all some time:
Bond spin-offs are a bad idea
Now that’s out of the way, lets approach this from the angle of ‘if it’s going to happen what’s the least terrible pitch?’
For starters I’m rejecting the idea of other double-ohs. If you’re going to do spin-off then you need to diversity your genres and the types of lead characters. Having your spin-offs be Bond without Bond would be pointless. Same for Felix or any Jinx type character they might come up with.
So after a lot (too much?) thought there is one character from the Bond canon, both book and screen, who I think has the potential to support a spin-off. And that character is…
Hear me out.
Since I’m rejecting other spies then using a villain, specifically an assassin, seems the natural way to go. Over the years there have been numerous books, movie and TV projects that centre on assassins proving they make viable protagonists. He operates in the same high class world as Bond but can open to door to completely different types of stories.
I also think that Scaramanga can be rather malleable when bringing him to the screen. When it comes to audience expectation most people know the following:
World’s greatest assassin
Signature golden gun and golden bullets
$1million a hit (adjust for inflation)
And that’s about it. The book and movie versions were already very different so as long as you hit the basics the writers and actor are free to build a new version of the character, one better suited to be the protagonist. The book also suggests Scaramanga might be gay, which gives you something else from a diversity standpoint.
In recent years we’ve seen more movie and TV projects based around less heroic and more morally ambiguous anti-heroes. However if you did want to make him more palatable then ‘likes elephants’ isn’t a bad starting point.
I’ve always thought Scaramanga was a really cool concept for a character but neither the book or film ever quite did justice to what I thought he could be. For that reason he’s the only villain I’d like to see reinterpreted and maybe a solo project could allow for a new and interesting spin on the character.
Mafia films have been a constant for Hollywood - villain/anti-hero pick your noun. From The Godfather through Goodfellas to The Sopranos and Peaky Blinder, the “dubious” lead has been a staple. So how a crime “family” came to be has a width of creative room to operate in, from story-line to a wealth of interesting of supporting characters to bring from Fleming as well as invent. You can set it in the here and now, or set in the Cold War (scratching that “how about a period piece Bond?”).
While Fleming devoted half a novel to his villain (FRWL), the films have never had the time nor the inclination to explore that side, too often leaving the baddie in the hands of the actor playing him. A spin-off could rectify that.
A troupe of beautiful female acrobats and daredevils travel to exotic locations performing amazing feats by day and daring robberies by night. Led by a woman with her own code of honor, their targets include despots, crime bosses and corrupt businessmen.
Pimp My Lair
Every week, a team of skilled contractors takes on near-impossible assignments to transform volcanoes, caves and supertankers into habitable hide-outs for whole armies, and to design and build fortresses in remote and dangerous locations. Drama ensues as eccentric customers demand the inclusion of piranha, anaconda and shark pools while insisting on “cat-friendly” work environments, and complain about cost overages despite their demands for elaborate monorail tracks to cover easily-walked distances. Will it all come together in time to meet the deadline? And what exactly is “the price of failure?”
Same Time Tomorrow, Mrs Bell
After her quiet and predictable life is turned upside down by an unexpectedly wild flying lesson, a retired Florida schoolteacher develops an addiction to danger, graduating from crop-dusting to barnstorming and ultimately to smuggling narcotics in her small plane, all while keeping up appearances as a devoted grandmother and member of the Rotary Club.
Pet Prank Patrol
In this one-time special for Netflix, animal comedy takes center stage as doves and pigeons fly out of nowhere to startle victims in the middle of delicate and/or dangerous tasks, while elsewhere a cantankerous canine pees on parade floats and Max the Parrot makes crank calls to world leaders. Special appearance by Kevin, the slot-machine-playing Elephant.
Guess Who’s Dinner?
Buxom, pig-tailed Dolly had her pick of beaus, so imagine her parents’ surprise when she moves back in with her fiance: a seven-foot-two bruiser who doesn’t have much to say, but at least there’s that sparkling smile. Looks like it was the wrong time to move to a “tiny home!” Tune in each week for comedy that goes straight for the jugular.
The articles about the Amazon purchase contained the phrase “In the world of Lucasfilm and Marvel, Bond feels really underdeveloped” which implies they’re thinking about it. Eon may be stopping them but you can be sure they want more Bond content and the game show won’t necessarily satiate that.
I’ve said it before: the one character for a spin-off is Jack Wade.
The elderly grumpy CIA agent has been living in Leningrad since the beginning of the 1980s. He has arranged quite well with everything and has little or no interest in a return home because, say, his ex-wife comes up with new demands all the time or some other mysterious undisclosed reason (will be revealed in the finale, the tattoo certainly is key to it). After the end of the Soviet Union in 1991, he - like any Russian - has to adapt to the changes of the post-Soviet era. He’s facing unexpected problems but also new chances, some doors close while others open, and, much more important: after a rather easy going life in the past few years, he now has to deliver reasons why his presence in (now) St Petersburg is still necessary.
His attempts to avoid his return home become the running gag of the series, we see him drive to the airport or checking in several times, or at one point even boarding a plane, but he always manages to extend his stay somehow.
Finale takes place between the meetings with Bond in St Petersburg and Cuba, Wade can somehow solve his problems with the help of Zukovsky, who also arranges that Wade is transfered to Cuba.
An interesting question. Usually with stories about assassins can get around this issue with a moral code or at the very least make sure the ‘bad guys’ are worse than they are. In the case of Scaramanga he needs to bee seen as the villain, he’s never show to be conflicted or reluctant about his choice of profession.
I’d say we root for Scarmanga, he’s the protagonist, the one with the goals and the obstacles to overcome. I think modern audiences can handle rooting for the bad guy.
Another detail it would be fun to include is that Scramanger worked for the Spangled Mob, meaning that theoretically you could make the Spang Brothers key players. Since the films haven’t touched them it could be another connection to the original Fleming.