SPECTRE in the Craig Era: Almost Everywhere and yet Almost Nowhere?

in Bond Movies Posts: 12,249
With the Daniel Craig era of Bond films completely wrapped up now, I can confidently say it's been my favorite tenure since Connery back in the 60s; I've loved 4 out of the 5 films (SP being the exception) and find Craig himself to have been an exceptional James Bond. The most glaring flaw of these movies however, to me, is the use of the most famous organization in the franchise, SPECTRE.

The producers rushed right into bringing SPECTRE back into the films once they attained the rights. While I was happy they were able to use the term and group again, there was no reason for them to do it so immediately. They could have mapped it out so much better for the next era once Craig's time was over, who already had Quantum and other separate villains established, but they chose to retcon things with SP and make them the "author of all Bond's pain" by explaining away every past foe Bond fought was related to SPECTRE. This revelation would have us believe almost everyone Bond fought was involved with SPECTRE, but I know for myself and others, this wasn't very buyable.

The octopus insignia, the word itself, even the viable idea of using them didn't begin until the fourth film in Craig's era. We get the classic symbol imagery with SP and NTTD, and several established members that didn't have to be retcons like Hinx, Primo, and Blofeld, but a sloppy, half-hearted explanation of CR, QOS, and SF tying into all this. The closest was Q saying that everyone was linked to Oberhauser in SP, which was quite vague and lazy. In theory, if the filmmakers have their way, we all believe Bond's been fighting SPECTRE the whole way basically, so all the way until Safin in NTTD, that has been the general antagonist.

This is mostly a rant post that echoes a lot of what I and others have said before on this matter, but the main thing I want to get across is how weird it is that SPECTRE is supposed to have been constantly present in these movies, and yet feels like they are barely there in actuality. Given there were no mentions and a loose retcon was used in movie number 4, the first three Craig films still even post-SP give me no vibes of the organization whatsoever. I've rewatched them countless times, and I rarely ever think while I'm watching CR, QOS, or SF, "oh yeah, these guys are part of SPECTRE!" SP is the only film out of the five to really be dedicated to the organization, with the retcon and several OCs introduced as organization members. Fine enough. But then we come to NTTD, where they play a part in the early stages of the film to affect Bond, only to be completely eradicated by Safin's nanobots and play second fiddle.

Does anyone else feel like it's so strange how this organization is supposed to be a major factor in every movie Craig did and yet they barely feel like they're really there most of the way? Even Primo jumps ship from SPECTRE to Safin in NTTD! I'm having a hard time organizing and saying these thoughts clearly, so I'd love other responses from others, whether you felt the same way or otherwise about this matter. It's especially funny to me how in NTTD, after making SPECTRE such a big deal in SP, they really are more of a loose end to be tied up instead of the main evil force. It speaks to me all the more they were brought back prematurely and would have benefitted much more if they had been sidelined until the next actor arrived.
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Comments

  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,687
    Spectre is so 60's. Give me Quantum.
    CR & QOS are gold. The others? Not so much.
  • LeonardPineLeonardPine The Bar on the Beach
    Posts: 3,985
    chrisisall wrote: »
    Spectre is so 60's. Give me Quantum.
    CR & QOS are gold. The others? Not so much.

    Agreed. Spectre should have been left in the 60's. Was getting the rights to use them so important?
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    edited February 2022 Posts: 2,916
    Agreed. I thought Quantum were perfect for the Craig era. Totally believable and probably just how such an organisation would operate. A shame to throw it away with everything else that was lost when they moved away from CR-QOS. But it was also a shame to re-introduce Spectre and then not really do it justice. Brofeld and the mass retconning? Bit painful. Then just wiping them all out in 30 seconds? That easy, huh? Having regained the rights, I see why they wanted to use them and in interviews straight after QOS, Craig himself spoke about bringing Blofeld back, so it probably would've happened in some form. Key question, though: did the form it came in do justice to the concept and the history? I can't help thinking that it didn't.
  • I am also in agreement that Quantum should’ve been expanded upon much more. SPECTRE should’ve been saved for the next Bond.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython “Baja?!”
    Posts: 8,020
    I don’t really see much difference between SPECTRE and Quantum, so this idea that the latter should have been expanded more doesn’t really ring much. If they were simply left unnamed in QOS like they were in CR, then it would have been extremely easy to say they were SPECTRE.

    I also just resent the name “Quantum” because it confuses the title. As far as I’m concerned they’re SPECTRE from the start. It’s easy to ignore the Quantum name given the fact that it’s only uttered in understated dialogue twice. Once during a meeting and second by Greene.
  • j_w_pepperj_w_pepper Born on the bayou. I can still hear my old hound dog barkin'.
    Posts: 8,672
    I don’t really see much difference between SPECTRE and Quantum, so this idea that the latter should have been expanded more doesn’t really ring much. If they were simply left unnamed in QOS like they were in CR, then it would have been extremely easy to say they were SPECTRE.

    I also just resent the name “Quantum” because it confuses the title. As far as I’m concerned they’re SPECTRE from the start. It’s easy to ignore the Quantum name given the fact that it’s only uttered in understated dialogue twice. Once during a meeting and second by Greene.

    One of my numerous gripes with QOS (still overall the worst Craig entry for me, though still not a real disaster) is inventing the name "Quantum" for the SPECTRE-like group just to put a bit of sense into the movie's (Fleming!) title. But it is really a minor concern, compared to the "Foster Brother Bloberhauser" story they made the central point of SP (the movie). Inventing positively stupid character names just to make puns about them in the script is probably worse (say Christmas Jones and Mr. Kil).
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,687
    j_w_pepper wrote: »
    I don’t really see much difference between SPECTRE and Quantum, so this idea that the latter should have been expanded more doesn’t really ring much. If they were simply left unnamed in QOS like they were in CR, then it would have been extremely easy to say they were SPECTRE.

    I also just resent the name “Quantum” because it confuses the title. As far as I’m concerned they’re SPECTRE from the start. It’s easy to ignore the Quantum name given the fact that it’s only uttered in understated dialogue twice. Once during a meeting and second by Greene.

    One of my numerous gripes with QOS (still overall the worst Craig entry for me, though still not a real disaster) is inventing the name "Quantum" for the SPECTRE-like group just to put a bit of sense into the movie's (Fleming!) title. But it is really a minor concern, compared to the "Foster Brother Bloberhauser" story they made the central point of SP (the movie). Inventing positively stupid character names just to make puns about them in the script is probably worse (say Christmas Jones and Mr. Kil).
    I must be dreaming... ;)
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    Posts: 2,916
    I never did work out a plausible Strawberry Fields gag...
  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    Posts: 1,686
    I love pretty much everything they did with Spectre in the Craig films, and its my favorite iteration of the organization.

    In the 60s, it was always Blofeld and a few goons with some hapless plan that is almost immediately rumbled by Bond. In the recent films, they seem to have a better win-loss record and have an air of competence about them. Blofeld getting revenge from prison was nice, and they've clearly been up to a lot in the five years between SP and NTTD.

    As for connecting Quantum to Spectre, I've written before that I don't really see what's hard about it. Greene was clearly not the top guy at Quantum, and Mr White completely disappeared. That story didn't finish. When I go back to CR or QOS and I see Mr White, I see Spectre.
  • slide_99slide_99 USA
    Posts: 650
    I agree that Quantum and SPECTRE don't align at all. Quantum is a realistic portrayal of how a modern international criminal conspiracy would operate, basically like an NGO: co-opting institutions that already exist (politics, business, intel agencies, etc) and diverting their resources towards its own ends.

    The Craigverse SPECTRE is a callback to the 60s with the crater base and an expendable army of goons, only it's worse due to the embarrassing backstory they gave to Blofeld. The covert and impersonal Quantum was retconned into Blofeld's private army for the purpose of fan lip service. I think they could have made SPECTRE work if they had just changed the label from Quantum to SPECTRE but kept the realistic approach.
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 12,978
    I love pretty much everything they did with Spectre in the Craig films, and its my favorite iteration of the organization.

    In the 60s, it was always Blofeld and a few goons with some hapless plan that is almost immediately rumbled by Bond. In the recent films, they seem to have a better win-loss record and have an air of competence about them. Blofeld getting revenge from prison was nice, and they've clearly been up to a lot in the five years between SP and NTTD.

    As for connecting Quantum to Spectre, I've written before that I don't really see what's hard about it. Greene was clearly not the top guy at Quantum, and Mr White completely disappeared. That story didn't finish. When I go back to CR or QOS and I see Mr White, I see Spectre.

    Yeah no problems on my side for the alignment of Spectre in the 5 films.

    To me it's like discussing the boat flip in QOS. One can say anything they want, but the boat flips regardless on screen.

  • ProfJoeButcherProfJoeButcher Bless your heart
    Posts: 1,686
    I love pretty much everything they did with Spectre in the Craig films, and its my favorite iteration of the organization.

    In the 60s, it was always Blofeld and a few goons with some hapless plan that is almost immediately rumbled by Bond. In the recent films, they seem to have a better win-loss record and have an air of competence about them. Blofeld getting revenge from prison was nice, and they've clearly been up to a lot in the five years between SP and NTTD.

    As for connecting Quantum to Spectre, I've written before that I don't really see what's hard about it. Greene was clearly not the top guy at Quantum, and Mr White completely disappeared. That story didn't finish. When I go back to CR or QOS and I see Mr White, I see Spectre.

    Yeah no problems on my side for the alignment of Spectre in the 5 films.

    To me it's like discussing the boat flip in QOS. One can say anything they want, but the boat flips regardless on screen.

    I love this! :)) You're quite right.
  • Venutius wrote: »
    I never did work out a plausible Strawberry Fields gag...

    I can imagine Roger Moore saying "Let me take you down..."
  • RichardTheBruceRichardTheBruce I'm motivated by my Duty.
    Posts: 12,978
    Monorailer wrote: »
    Venutius wrote: »
    I never did work out a plausible Strawberry Fields gag...

    I can imagine Roger Moore saying "Let me take you down..."
    Then he enters the tones on his hotel room entrance keypad: Straw-bare-ree-fields.
  • pachazopachazo Make Your Choice
    Posts: 7,314
    I also really enjoyed the Quantum organization at the time, even if they did come off as an imitation of SPECTRE in some ways. There were some key differences as well though. I was very much looking forward to finding out more about them, especially seeing who Bond found at the top of such a powerful syndicate. To retcon it all and make it seem as if it was Blofeld and SPECTRE the whole time was extremely lazy at best, and in the case of tying Silva into it, just plain stupid.

    I also agree that when I watch the first three Craig films, I don't think of them as SPECTRE. Just like when I watch the original Star Wars Trilogy, I don't think that Darth Vader created C-3P0. That's just not a part of my head canon. SP tried so hard to connect everything but it really just created two separate entities as far as I'm concerned and I much prefer CR - SF over SP -NTTD.
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    Posts: 2,916
    Monorailer wrote: »
    Venutius wrote: »
    I never did work out a plausible Strawberry Fields gag...

    I can imagine Roger Moore saying "Let me take you down..."

    That's the one! Love it. :))
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    Posts: 2,916
    slide_99 wrote: »
    I agree that Quantum and SPECTRE don't align at all. Quantum is a realistic portrayal of how a modern international criminal conspiracy would operate, basically like an NGO: co-opting institutions that already exist (politics, business, intel agencies, etc) and diverting their resources towards its own ends.

    Nail. Head. 👍

  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython “Baja?!”
    Posts: 8,020
    If I wanted realism I’d switch to CHINATOWN.

    I prefer the grounded takes in FRWL, FYEO, CR, etc where it’s still fantastical. QOS takes the realistic approach too far in the wrong direction.

    Mendes bringing back the old school vibe was justice being served. It’s too bad EON didn’t fire Forster the moment he demanded rewrites on a tight deadline.
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    Posts: 2,916
    Or maybe it's too bad that EON refused Forster's request to postpone QOS til after the writers' strike was over?
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 4,098
    Marc Forster wasn’t a Bond fan and it showed. Daniel Craig recommended him, and Barbara Broccoli bowed down to his every suggestion, almost without second thought, it seems. I remember an article that said Martin Campbell wanted to come back, but he and Craig didn’t get along. And Daniel, you said your version of Blofeld, wasn’t going to be like Austin Powers and Dr. Evil. There was an article about him saying this just before SP but I can’t find it.
  • VenutiusVenutius Yorkshire
    Posts: 2,916
    Guess no one dared say 'Goldmember' when MGW suggested Brofeld...
  • chrisisall wrote: »
    Spectre is so 60's. Give me Quantum.
    CR & QOS are gold. The others? Not so much.

    Exactly. Plus, henchmen like Cyclops seemed like physical imitations of Yusef. Except Yusef and all the other Quantum members were more credible and realistic.
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    edited February 2022 Posts: 5,949
    I blame John Logan.

    Despite his insistence that "Bond should always be fighting Blofeld," (1) Bond hadn't really fought him since 1971 and (2) Logan clearly wanted to introduce and kill off Blofeld in the same film. And then they did that in the next film with a cameo.

    Okay John, was Blofeld a one-film antagonist or a recurring villain? Both, you say?

    It made zero sense. They did it better in FYEO.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 4,098
    echo wrote: »
    I blame John Logan.

    Despite his insistence that "Bond should always be fighting Blofeld," (1) Bond hadn't really fought him since 1971 and (2) Logan clearly wanted to introduce and kill off Blofeld in the same film. And then they did that in the next film with a cameo.

    Okay John, was Blofeld a one-film antagonist or a recurring villain? Both, you say?

    It made zero sense. They did it better in FYEO.

    I never thought about him and his drafts! He also wanted Blofeld to be a African Warlord, and Bill Tanner to be a mole. I see why they dropped him. However, it would be nice to have Rory Kinnear try to put some actual character into his portrayal. And the African Warlord material would be great for a modern Mr. Big adaptation.
  • TripAcesTripAces Universal Exports
    edited February 2022 Posts: 4,554
    chrisisall wrote: »
    Spectre is so 60's. Give me Quantum.
    CR & QOS are gold. The others? Not so much.

    The problem is that the "evil organization" as conceived in the 60s just doesn't work today. This doesn't mean that evil organizations don't exist, but that they function differently.

    IMHO, Spectre works great as group of people, meeting in secret, with the ability to pull levers, all in the name of power and wealth. To do that means manipulating markets and manipulating people, when they don't realize that they're being manipulated. I thought the meeting in SP was well-conceived. What wasn't was the lair in the meteor crater: it has no function and makes no sense. Similarly, Safin's "lair" was full of soldiers and mercenaries...how and why?

    In The International (an underrated thriller), writer Erric Singer gets this right. To a certain degree, so does QoS. In both, the "evil organization" is fronted by something else, and exists completely out in the open yet unseen to the naked eye.
  • chrisisallchrisisall Brosnan Defender Of The Realm
    Posts: 17,687
    TripAces wrote: »
    chrisisall wrote: »
    Spectre is so 60's. Give me Quantum.
    CR & QOS are gold. The others? Not so much.

    The problem is that the "evil organization" as conceived in the 60s just doesn't work today. This doesn't mean that evil organizations don't exist, but that they function differently.

    IMHO, Spectre works great as group of people, meeting in secret, with the ability to pull levers, all in the name of power and wealth. To do that means manipulating markets and manipulating people, when they don't realize that they're being manipulated. I thought the meeting in SP was well-conceived. What wasn't was the lair in the meteor crater: it has no function and makes no sense. Similarly, Safin's "lair" was full of soldiers and mercenaries...how and why?

    In The International (an underrated thriller), writer Erric Singer gets this right. To a certain degree, so does QoS. In both, the "evil organization" is fronted by something else, and exists completely out in the open yet unseen to the naked eye.
    The International is sublime.
  • CraigMooreOHMSSCraigMooreOHMSS Dublin, Ireland
    Posts: 8,026
    Big fan of The International, also.
  • MakeshiftPythonMakeshiftPython “Baja?!”
    Posts: 8,020
    I remember avoiding that one because it reminded me too much of QOS. That whole “realism” aesthetic that permeated action movies due to the popularity of the Bourne films. That got played out post-George Bush Jr. era.
  • TripAces wrote: »
    chrisisall wrote: »
    Spectre is so 60's. Give me Quantum.
    CR & QOS are gold. The others? Not so much.

    The problem is that the "evil organization" as conceived in the 60s just doesn't work today. This doesn't mean that evil organizations don't exist, but that they function differently.

    IMHO, Spectre works great as group of people, meeting in secret, with the ability to pull levers, all in the name of power and wealth. To do that means manipulating markets and manipulating people, when they don't realize that they're being manipulated. I thought the meeting in SP was well-conceived. What wasn't was the lair in the meteor crater: it has no function and makes no sense. Similarly, Safin's "lair" was full of soldiers and mercenaries...how and why?

    In The International (an underrated thriller), writer Erric Singer gets this right. To a certain degree, so does QoS. In both, the "evil organization" is fronted by something else, and exists completely out in the open yet unseen to the naked eye.

    Exactly. That's how secret society and cabals work. QoS got this right alonhdide the Rome SP meetinh but after that, they really dropped the ball.
  • MalloryMallory Do mosquitoes have friends?
    edited February 2022 Posts: 2,055
    S.P.E.C.T.R.E as an organisation is a huge miss for me in the Craig-era.
    • Why introduce them in the fourth film of an actor's tenure, when it wasnt assured he would go on to a fifth. It would have been better to have kept them back and had them as the main ongoing threat for Bond Number 7.
    • Aside from the name (does today's SPECTRE use the acronym?), Blofeld and the Octopus logo, they bear almost no resemblance to the old S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Do they have a ranking system with Numbers anymore?
    • The organisation is so poorly explained. At least with 60's S.P.E.C.T.R.E we broadly knew how the organisation functioned, what its aims were, and how it worked. Nothing here in the Craig-era.
    • How exactly does Quantum roll into S.P.E.C.T.R.E? Is it even properly explained in the films?
    • How is Silva connected to Quantum/S.P.E.C.T.R.E? Awful retconning that seriously undermines Skyfall if you pick up on it.
    • You dont see S.P.E.C.T.R.E actually do anything so they never feel threatening or powerful. In the 60's you saw them steal nuclear warheads, kidnap space rockets, developing Omega viruses and launching orbital strikes. Best you get out of the Craig-Era is some poorly developed IT system and a (admittedly cool) raid on a laboratory in NTTD.
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