With over six decades of films from 1962’s Dr. No to 2021’s No Time To Die, James Bond has gotten us used to a certain formula.
There’s a big opening sequence, the unveiling of new gadgets and cars, beautiful women (some innocent, some deadly), and a showdown with a wicked villain. There are trips abroad, physically overpowering henchmen, amusing run-ins with MI6 mainstays, and finally, a few (shaken) cocktails.
Most Bond films therefore feel quite similar. And yet some believe that beneath the surface, there’s more than meets the eye. Many, in fact, see significant mysteries and conspiracies sprawling across the movie franchise.
Here’s our look at some of the most interesting James Bond theories from over the years.
1. ‘James Bond’ is a Codename
This theory asserts that “James Bond” is a code name (like “M”), which explains why each actor’s depiction is unique. When an agent assumes the role of 007, he also adopts the name (and persona) of Bond.
It’s a fan theory that solves most of the continuity issues throughout the franchise. It explains how Bond transcends eras, works with different MI6 colleagues, and so on. But it also has its flaws…
The biggest flaw of this James Bond theory is that Roger Moore’s Bond visits the grave of the wife (Tracy) of George Lazenby’s Bond – as if Tracy is his own wife.
On the other hand, some fans believe the Codename Theory could soon be proven (or at least adopted). With No Time To Die ending with Bond’s death, the next film could depict a new agent assuming the mantle.
2. James Bond is Ian Fleming
There are also those who believe Bond is based on Ian Fleming (author of the James Bond novels). This is less a theory than an observation, because there are aspects of Fleming in the character.
The author was a regular traveler (frequenting Jamaica in particular), a naval officer, an avid gambler, and a man with a taste for scandalous affairs.
Then again, Fleming himself claimed to have based the character on various people he met while working in Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division – which of course, makes perfect sense. Specifically, Fleming’s own brother (Peter) and some agents and spies supposedly combined to form the basis of Bond.
The character is most likely a hybrid, comprised of these characters and Fleming. But it’s also quite possible that Fleming snuck more of himself into Bond than he liked to let on.
3. Sean Connery’s Bond is the Father of Daniel Craig’s
Sean Connery and Daniel Craig’s versions of Bond have a lot in common.
Connery launched the saga; Craig gave us a full reboot of it (basically launching it again). Connery famously hails from Scotland; Skyfall saw Craig’s Bond return to a childhood home there. The two even favored the same Aston Martin (the gorgeous DB5).
Could it be that Sean Connery’s Bond is the father of Daniel Craig’s? These similarities could be hints, rather than coincidences.
The theory goes hand-in-hand with the Codename Theory, and suggests that Connery was the first codename “James Bond,” but was actually named Andrew Bond. Maybe he retired to Skyfall and fathered Daniel Craig’s Bond – naming him ‘James’ after Andrew’s own MI6 persona.
This theory seems more legit as Connery was nearly cast as Kincade in Skyfall. Kincade is a groundskeeper of Skyfall Lodge, but if Connery played the role, people would have wondered if he were Andrew Bond hiding in plain sight.
4. James Bond is Illiterate
This is a fairly baseless theory, but it still made the rounds online. Fans have noticed that we almost never see Bond reading.
He receives verbal and image-based mission briefings; he’s never shown with books (though Pierce Brosnan’s Bond does read a magazine at one point); and he doesn’t read instruction manuals for cars or gadgets.
Even when Craig’s Bond rushes to a defibrillator when he’s poisoned in Casino Royale, he relies on a call to MI6 to use the device (rather than written instructions).
Now, there’s really no reason for Bond to be illiterate, nor is there a ton of evidence. We probably don’t see Bond reading, because it doesn’t make for compelling cinema. But the theory is out there.
5. Raoul Silva is Pierce Brosnan’s Bond
Skyfall’s Raoul Silva is one of the best Bond villains. We also know that he was originally an MI6 agent betrayed by M and handed over to China. That may be all there is to it.
But if we accept the Codename Theory, and pay attention to Silva’s timeline, it’s reasonable to wonder if he was perhaps “a James Bond” – the Brosnan Bond, specifically.
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M specifies in Skyfall that she dealt with Silva in the ‘80s and ‘90s, which covers the Brosnan era (though Die Another Day came out in 2002). We also know that the two were extremely close – and we have no evidence that M works as closely with other agents as she does with Bond.
These factors, combined with Silva’s obsession with Bond, point to the idea that he may be more than he seems.
6. James Bond is a Timelord
This crazy theory claims that James Bond can regenerate and inhabit new bodies, refreshing himself throughout time. Indeed, it’s a concept straight out of Doctor Who’s universe.
In this universe, British intelligence agents are pretty unbothered by timelords. And with this fan theory, the reason for that is because they have known about the existence of timelords for years, thanks to James Bond.
But even if you don’t find the Doctor Who connection credible, the theory of Bond as a supernatural time-hopper is probably the only way to explain how he’s stayed the same age for decades!
7. John Mason is James Bond
The John Mason theory also works alongside the Codename Theory. If the role of James Bond is periodically handed down to a new agent, it makes sense that older Bonds continue to live their lives following their service to MI6 (except for Craig’s version).
This theory posits that the Connery Bond simply went on to become John Mason, from The Rock.
If you’re not familiar with the character, Mason, played by Connery, is an ex-MI6 agent imprisoned by the U.S. for espionage, who’s called to help Navy SEALs with a dangerous mission.
The Rock even specifies that Mason was imprisoned on Alcatraz in 1962 and escaped in 1963, which lines up with a period when Bond goes missing (in From Russia With Love).
8. James Bond is Illuminati
The several references to gold (in numerous Bond film titles alone) and pyramids have led some to believe that Bond films are Illuminati propaganda (or warnings, depending on how you read them). Crazy, we know…
Gold’s connection to power and death (for instance via golden bullets in The Man With The Golden Gun) is said to represent the deadly influence of the world’s financial system; and pyramids (which appear in The Spy Who Loved Me and other films) are believed to be reminders of Illuminati influence.
There’s not a lot to this insane James Bond theory, but for those looking, there are plenty of symbols to obsess over.
9. Sherlock is an MI6 Agent
This theory asserts that Sherlock Holmes from the BBC series Sherlock, has at times been used as an agent by MI6.
It’s also thought that Holmes’ brother Mycroft is Sherlock’s “M,” as he claims to occupy “a minor position” in British government.
There’s no actual Bond link, but it is fun to think of Sherlock doing some freelance intelligence work for the same agency that employs 007.
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10. James Bond is a Doomed Spy
A Reddit user has suggested that MI6 uses James Bond as a “Doomed Spy.”
The Doomed Spy theory suggests that Bond is initially fed false information. And while he’s occupying enemy attention, MI6 does its actual work unseen, with other agents secretly targeting the enemy.
The full “Doomed Spy” concept would mean that the agent be sacrificed. But with Bond, the theory is that he’s good enough to survive. He’s “the world’s most famous spy,” a legitimate threat who’s so obvious and destructive, that he doubles as a scare tactic and decoy.
Villains know he’s coming and bringing damage, which distracts them from the real spies working behind the scenes.
11. James Bond is An A.I.
The A.I. theory explains Bond’s ability and resilience. We’ve seen 007 survive horrible injuries, perform death-defying stunts, and master every weapon and vehicle imaginable. He’s as proficient hijacking a helicopter as he is dueling with swords in Die Another Day.
And if we accept the A.I. theory, this is all because he’s augmented; his body is protected against injury, and like Neo in The Matrix, he’s had skills downloaded into his mind.
One neat thing about this theory is that it further explains the Codename concept. If Bond is augmented, then perhaps a sort of Bond program is uploaded into each new agent to assume the mantle.
12. Judi Dench’s ‘M’ Was the First Moneypenny
Lois Maxwell played the part of Moneypenny in 1962’s Dr. No, and held onto the role through A View To Kill in 1985. The role has since gone to a few subsequent actresses, while Judi Dench played M from 1995’s Goldeneye through 2012’s Skyfall.
This theory suggests that the two characters are one and the same – Dench’s M simply being Maxwell’s Moneypenny after climbing the MI6 ladder.
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It’s not the most plausible theory, but it’s supported by the characters’ ages (Dench in 1995 was about a decade older than Moneypenny in A View To Kill).
Additionally, Dench’s M lets slip in Skyfall that she was working as a Station Chief in the mid- ‘90s (which doesn’t wholly line up with the Goldeneye timeline, but hey ho). Does this imply she was progressing through British intelligence from Moneypenny to M?
13. Indiana Jones is James Bond’s Father
Here again we have a fan theory revolving around a Sean Connery role outside of the Bond universe. Indeed, Connery famously played Henry Jones, Sr., the father of Indiana Jones.
Beyond that simple fact though, Redditor u/Princey1981 worked out a fitting timeline based on The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Indiana Jones was born in 1899, and James Bond was born in 1920 or 1921.
The Chronicles also reveal that Indiana visited London in 1919. We don’t know if it lines up with Bond’s November birthday, but it’s easy to imagine Indiana meeting a woman in London and conceiving the future 007 – who, of course, looks just like his grandfather!
14. Bond Orders His Martini Shaken To Detect Poison
In The West Wing, President Jed Bartlet spends about half an episode arguing that James Bond orders weak martinis. He explains that shaking the drink (rather than stirring it) chips the ice which waters down the drink and limits its taste.
This theory agrees with Bartlet, but suggests that Bond is watering down his martinis on purpose, so that it’s easier to taste anything that doesn’t belong…like poison.
Unfortunately, this trick doesn’t do Bond much good when his ‘Vesper’ cocktail is poisoned in Casino Royale. So, you know, martini theory debunked?
15. There’s a James Bond Multiverse
Everything seems to be part of a multiverse these days (looking at you, Marvel), so why not the Bond saga? Heck, this isn’t the craziest of James Bond theories, either.
The multiverse theory claims that each version of Bond takes place in a different universe where Bond still exists, but looks and acts differently.
It’s not the most complex idea, but it’s a fun one that lets you seek out hints of what differs between universes.
For example, Jaws’ immortality or the ludicrous technology in Die Another Day may exist in otherworldly universes, while Craig’s Bond lives in a world more like our own.
So, there you have them! Which of these James Bond theories do you buy into? And do you have any others of your own? Let us know in the comments below!