If you've wondered why the evil organization SPECTRE hasn't shown up in James Bond movies for awhile, that's because of a rights issue to the name and characters that's been going on for more than 50 years. The rebooted installments have been using Quantum as sort of a replacement (also substituting for original 007 villains SMERSH), but now producers of the franchise are finally able to go with the more familiar name if they wish. According to Deadline, MGM and holding company Danjaq (which owns EON Productions) has reached a deal with the estate of Kevin McClory, producer of the film Thunderball and long-disputed cocreator of SPECTRE and its leading baddie Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Does this mean we could see the (iconically bald) Bond nemesis and his lap cat show up in one of the Daniel Craig installments? We have two years until Bond 24 arrives in theaters, and that might be plenty of time to at least add the character to the end of the movie, maybe even in a postcredits teaser. Or he could even be the main villain. The settlement also more directly indicates that we could see a third adaptation of Thunderball one day. Following the 1965 film version, the copyright controversy allowed for the noncanon remake Never Say Never Again in 1983. Doubt that EON would bother with another? Umm, never say... well, you know.
I guess now it's time for the Internet to start discussing who they think should play Blofeld? As with the Lex Luthor rumors, will we hear about every bald actor being in the running? Is Benedict Cumberbatch willing to shave his head? First, though, we should consider whether or not the series should bother with him and SPECTRE at all. There is the obvious reason to bring them back, as far as they're well-known and movie audiences love things they already know about.
Yet the Craig-era Bond has been a more realistic approach to the character and franchise where stuff like evil masterminds could be avoided due to their cartoonish connotations, especially in the wake of the caricature in the Austin Powers movies. It wouldn't be impossible to do Blofeld and SPECTRE without the cheesy elements (though there was that recently spread idea that Craig wants more humor in the films) -- but then again it'll be hard to please a nostalgic generation of moviegoers with a catless Blofeld.
That brings up a further conversation: how does and should Hollywood balance the audience desires for realistic, dark and gritty versions of popular franchises (the Dark Knight effect) with the wants of traditionalist fans who still want what they're used to? Maybe we'll see with the next Bond in 2015.
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