One of the most popular theories out there on the Internet is how James Bond/007 isn’t really the guy’s name, but simply a codename passed from agent to agent upon one’s death or retirement. Unfortunately, the theory lost a lot of credibility with the release of Skyfall and Spectre, which demonstrated that James Bond is actually Daniel Craig’s name, by showing us his ancestral home and detailing his backstory. It also implies he is the first Bond, since by the end of Spectre we have M, Moneypenny, and Blofeld all in place to continue the Bond stories we know.
But what if, instead of Daniel Craig being the first Bond, he’s just the latest in a long series of clones implanted with the memories of each previous agent that came before him? But to prove this, we have to look outside of the movies and instead to the 2001 video game, 007: Agent Under Fire
This game is set during the Pierce Brosnan era, and features a plot where evil businesswoman Adrian Malprave plans to take over the world by cloning all the leaders of the G8 countries. This isn’t some crazy idea, though, for the game shows numerous clones before Bond can destroy the underwater base making all the clones.
Okay, so cloning clearly exists in the Bond universe, so how can we show that Bond is the result of a long line of clones? Well, take a look at the Bond model from the game.
It looks like a Timothy Dalton Play-doh model that the artist gave up halfway through. Then look at the one more clearly modeled after Brosnan in Nightfire, a direct sequel that features the same characters and mentions the plot of Agent Under Fire.
So, we have characters interacting with 007, despite the fact he looks widely different, and carrying on without questioning when and why he underwent plastic surgery. That’s because Bond has always been just some clone, who sometimes gets his face changed during the process every couple of years. When a clone is killed (as Daniel Craig clearly was at the beginning of Skyfall), or undergoes some sort of mental rot (like Roger Moore deciding to dress up in a clown costume), they pull out one of the clones, who seem to require very little processing time based on how quickly Malprave can make clones of the world leaders.
But still, this advanced cloning tech clearly couldn’t exist all the way back in the 60s, right? Well, yes, because the first two Bonds, Connery and Lazenby, were different people who used the same codename, as the original theory says. It’s not really even a theory because that’s just what MI6 does, as they have mentioned passing other 00 agents to new people in other media, but shockingly, ever only mention one name for each agent.
But after MI6 saw Connery take back the mantle of Bond to avenge Lazenby’s wife’s death, they saw the power behind traumatic events in spurring their agents to do great things. So, for the 007 agent, they quietly implemented a cloning program, with each future agent after Connery being implanted with the same traumatic event, that SPECTRE killed Tracy Bond and they are now on missions to defeat that organization and other terrorists. These are the backstories to Moore, Dalton, Brosnan, and explains why both Dalton and Moore react to the mention of Tracy,
yet doesn’t betray the cute line from Lazenby about how “this never happened to the other fella”
But what about Craig’s Bond, why was he left out of this cloning saga? He wasn’t, but M (Judi Dench) knew that the death of Tracy wouldn’t work anymore. Since she died in 1969, even if you did change the tombstone, there was no way to reasonably hide that from Craig, with access to the Internet and other researching methods, from learning that his life is a big lie. They instead created a new backstory, one where his parents, who lived off in an isolated cabin in the middle of nowhere, died when he was young, and assigned him a caretaker from one of the other, older Bonds (since the old man at Skyfall Lodge was supposed to be Sean Connery).
But who really developed the cloning tech? Agent Under Fire claims it was invented by Malprave and only perfect around the end of the 90’s or the very early 2000’s. If only that was another example of the Bond movies using something resembling cloning technology beforehand….
In Diamonds are Forever, the film directly after Tracy’s death, Sean Connery infiltrates SPECTRE to kill Blofeld, and finds him making duplicates of himself. It’s obviously not the same thing (yet explains why Blofeld doesn’t always look the same), but SPECTRE has tons of resources that would take that basic idea and run with it to its logical conclusion: autonomous clones that behave exactly as their original would. This would mean needing to develop some way to put memories in the clone, which Malprave would also need to ensure that her G8 leader clones wouldn’t be noticed too quickly by their families and aides. So after Bond finds this hidden lab and MI6 sees the effectiveness of multiple versions of a single person, they also start developing tech at the same time as SPECTRE, leading to them both making clones of Bond and Blofeld, who appears again in For Your Eyes Only, looking different then his Diamonds counterpart, but more like the You Only Live Twice version.
We now shown clones of Bond and Blofeld running around during the older films, but in the latest Bond movie, Spectre, we are told that Blofeld knew Bond when they were younger and all of Craig’s movies have been some form of twisted revenge. Well, that’s not really true. In Quantum of Solace we are introduced to the Quantum organization, which seems like it will act as the SPECTRE-esque villains for Craig to face in upcoming movies, but in Spectre we are told that it really was SPECTRE, and it was all one big ploy by Blofeld. Except, between those two films, in Skyfall, Silva, another SPECTRE operative, hacks MI6’s system to free himself, but what if that’s not all he did? What if he was able to grab all of MI6’s files, including the one that has the detailed backstory implanted into the newest James Bond clone?
So Quantum, with input from Silva, since his whole deal is deliberately messing with M and her spies, used the cloning tech from MI6, made a new Blofeld, and implanted him with the memories of that one kid Bond knew when he was younger in an attempt to break him.
But how does this tie us back to Malprave Industries, the only organization that has definitively used clones? Well, take a look at their logo.
Doesn’t it look a little familiar, kinda like a creature with tendrils emanating from a single, circular source?
SPECTRE, after suffering defeat time-after-time to Bond and MI6, faded into the background, up until Adrian Malprave decided to actively use the cloning tech to take over the world. Since SPECTRE stopped showing in Bond movies for stretches at a time, it’s clear they didn’t want to overtly expose themselves, but the egotistical maniacs who never outright kill Bond when they have the chance would totally leave little clues in other company logos like Malprave.
In conclusion, we know that cloning definitely exists in the James Bond universe, and we have reasonable assertions that both MI6 and SPECTRE would both not only have the resources, but the desire to use cloning technology to their advantage. It helps solve some of the biggest inconsistencies in the “James Bond codename” theory, and can explain why Bonds who are explicitly supposed to be the same person do not look the same.
For simplicity’s sake, I made a rough timeline:
– Connery gives 007 codename to Lazenby.
– Tracy dies, Connery retakes mantle to track down Blofeld, stays on while MI6 perfects cloning.
– At the same time, SPECTRE is perfecting their own version of cloning.
– Connery retires, and Moore comes on as first Bond clone, implanted with memories of Tracy.
– The latest Blofeld, cloned from the [i]You Only Live Twice[/i] version, is killed by Moore, and SPECTRE decides to retire Blofeld for a while.
– Moore, Dalton, and Brosnan clones come and go.
– In 2001, Adrian Malprave uses SPECTRE tech to clone G8 leaders to take over the world. Off-model Brosnan stops her and destroys secret SPECTRE cloning facility, but is replaced with correct Brosnan model in time for Nightfire. Zoe, who is aware of cloning, doesn’t mention why he looks different then the last time she saw him.
– Silva steals all of MI6’s secrets upon escaping lock-up, and before dying, convinces Quantum/SPECTRE to make a new Blofeld clone to mess with Bond.
Now the obvious problem is, why do you need to bother cloning these guys over and over again, what’s the purpose? It’s because each time Bond is cloned, he requires less and less time to re acclimate himself to the skills of his predecessors, since he should remember all their knowledge on gunplay and combat. Skyfall tries to hide this by giving us a scene where Craig, the newest clone after the death of the previous in the first scene, is failing his psych evaluations and physical tests to show us how human he is.
But, despite him doing so badly, M sends him out anyway because she knows that all the clones still require a little bit of time to recuperate, but are still more viable options than trying to retrain a new agent to be their premiere spy. By the time he’s in Shanghai, he’s back to full operating standards, as evidenced by the fight in the skyscraper and in the casino.
With this evidence, I hope I have convinced you about the nefarious actions MI6 have taken over the past 40-odd years to keep their most valuable agent around forever. While others may come and go, Bond will never die. Again.