The identity of the “Best Bond” is a hot point of contention among fans of the James Bond franchise, so it’s no wonder that who will be the next Bond is an even more severe point of contention. Each man to take up the role so far has brought it in a unique direction – from the hyper-masculine charm of Connery to the semi-comedic hijinks of Moore to the grounded quasi-realism of Craig – so it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what qualities make James Bond who he is.
But that doesn’t mean that fans won’t try, and we can identify a few qualities that seem to resonate with fans throughout each successive iteration. They need to be young and virile enough to handle the increasingly vicious action sequences that have come to define the genre, but they also need to find the perfect balance between effortless cool and seamless brutality. And for most, the idea of a Bond that didn’t come from the U.K. is practical heresy. As of now, there seem to be a few top contenders for 007.
And any modern list of James Bond contenders has to begin with Idris Elba. While there has been some backlash to the notion of a black man playing Bond (including among former Bonds themselves), Elba has dominated the discussions of who could pick up the mantle for years. It seems a natural fit. Elba cuts an imposing figure while managing to evoke a sense of classical masculine coolness that few of his colleagues can match. The only point of contention could be his age. Producers are assuredly looking for a Bond willing to sign up for a multi-picture deal, and Elba is already 46.
Then there’s Tom Hardy. He’s an actor not afraid to take up challenging roles, as demonstrated by his decision to play the criminal Kray Brothers and notorious convict Charles Bronson. But he’s also flirted with big franchise headliners with the leads in both Mad Max and Venom. And there’s little doubt that he has the raw physicality to jump headfirst into even the most grueling stunts.
And then there’s Tom Hiddleston. While he may seem like something of an eccentric choice, the actor best known for playing Loki in the Marvel movies has tried his hand at action roles in Kong Island and in spy thrillers with the adaption of La Carre’s The Night Manager. While he may not seem to naturally have the physicality or raw magnetism of Hardy or Elba, that could potentially work in his favor. Producers looking for a change of pace following Daniel Craig’s acclaimed run at Bond could potentially see the value of a Bond that leans into the suavity and charm of the acclaimed spy.
The list of potential Bond actors could go on for pages, and chances are that any actor chosen will receive a fair share of praise and disgust. But that’s just part of the job, and whomever gets picked to play Britain’s most famous spy will surely leave their own imprint on the character’s legacy.