Should Bond Have His Morals and Ethics Challenged?

edited April 2013 in Bond 26 & Beyond Posts: 1,213
I watched The Dark Knight the other day and I was so impressed by the way the Joker presented an ethical dilemma to the Batman. I then thought that it would be interesting to see Bond challenged in a similar way. However, there would be some difficulty in that as the Batman's one rule is that he does not kill, whereas Bond kills for a living. That said, should we explore the idea of forcing Bond to make tough moral choices, and if so, what would be the best way of going about it?

Comments

  • Posts: 61
    Hes had his morals challenged already years back. FYEO. The skater BiBi Bluff made really overt advances and Bond politely declines every time. Moores Bond not only was the worst, but he was the most polite.
  • What moral choices would those be, though? The Joker's dilemma was so brilliant because Batman (at least the Nolan-Bale Batman) absolutely refused to kill. Bond would've up and shot him, just like he did Professor Dent (On a side note, I saw a comment to this effect on a clip from Batman Returns, in which Batman kills left and right).

    What kind of dilemma could the villain present? Trevelyan, Silva, and even Dr. No were, I suppose, mild challenges to Bond's loyalty to Britain, but his loyalty is unshakeable. Other than that he's not a particularly moral man. He'll kill you in cold blood, then make love to your woman, then drink a bottle of liquor and smoke a cigarette. There's nothing more you can do at that point.
  • 0BradyM0Bondfanatic70BradyM0Bondfanatic7 Quantum Floral Arrangements: "We Have Petals Everywhere"
    edited April 2013 Posts: 28,694
    There is one thing I have always thought would be cool to see in a Bond film, and it came to me after I saw how DAD never explored it (surprise surprise). I would love to see a scenario where Bond is captured while on a mission and is put under duress, and his mind will be so violated by the tactics his torturers use that he unknowingly lets something slip about a crucial MI6 mission staged to be played out soon afterwards. The mission was meant to prevent an attack made by a terrorist cell that the agency knew about and when it was set to occur to stop it. The British worked with the CIA in uncovering the plot that was meant to kill an ambassador, leader and numerous civilians in London that would upset the climate and cause utter chaos. Since the cell now know that the British and Americans are on to them, they fast track the attack and the agencies are unable to stop it. Soon after he mentally recovers, Bond realizes that he let it slip, but he is too late to stop it and watches live as London is attacked. He is able to escape afterwards, barely in one piece.

    So, I would love for the rest of the film to explore Bond's own anger at himself for slipping the agencies plan under duress and deal with how MI6 and M no longer trust him or even start a hunt for him because he appears to be a mole who might release more British secrets. The content would tackle the notion that Bond is always being loyal to the realm and flip it on its head, something that I think would be interesting to see and it would set the stage for a Bond film that challenged the morals that Bond has. The plot and everything isn't fleshed that much at all, but I just wanted to express the kind of idea I had.
  • There is one thing I have always thought would be cool to see in a Bond film, and it came to me after I saw how DAD never explored it (surprise surprise). I would love to see a scenario where Bond is captured while on a mission and is put under duress, and his mind will be so violated by the tactics his torturers use that he unknowingly lets something slip about a crucial MI6 mission staged to be played out soon afterwards. The mission was meant to prevent an attack made by a terrorist cell that the agency knew about and when it was set to occur to stop it. The British worked with the CIA in uncovering the plot that was meant to kill an ambassador, leader and numerous civilians in London that would upset the climate and cause utter chaos. Since the cell now know that the British and Americans are on to them, they fast track the attack and the agencies are unable to stop it. Soon after he mentally recovers, Bond realizes that he let it slip, but he is too late to stop it and watches live as London is attacked. He is able to escape afterwards, barely in one piece.

    So, I would love for the rest of the film to explore Bond's own anger at himself for slipping the agencies plan under duress and deal with how MI6 and M no longer trust him or even start a hunt for him because he appears to be a mole who might release more British secrets. The content would tackle the notion that Bond is always being loyal to the realm and flip it on its head, something that I think would be interesting to see and it would set the stage for a Bond film that challenged the morals that Bond has. The plot and everything isn't fleshed that much at all, but I just wanted to express the kind of idea I had.

    That is a very interesting idea, however I think (at least for the time being) that the writers should stray away from trust issues between Bond and MI6, but I do think it would be fun to see the establish Bond's limits, and then have them pushed, perhaps even forcing him to make a decision that may be seen as unpopular by some of the audience.
  • Posts: 101
    In Fleming's notes, he outlines a scene for a future Bond novel where Bond, undercover, is forced to kill a fellow agent to keep his cover and prove his loyalty to the villains.
    This is in the Fleming-focus book "007 THE MAN AND HIS WORLD"
    Also outlines a scene where Bond pretends to be deaf, and has to pretend he cant hear a train coming while he on the tracks, to keep his cover.
    Real tension in those scenarios.
    Interesting to see another Fleming... sigh one can dream!
  • In Fleming's notes, he outlines a scene for a future Bond novel where Bond, undercover, is forced to kill a fellow agent to keep his cover and prove his loyalty to the villains.
    This is in the Fleming-focus book "007 THE MAN AND HIS WORLD"
    Also outlines a scene where Bond pretends to be deaf, and has to pretend he cant hear a train coming while he on the tracks, to keep his cover.
    Real tension in those scenarios.
    Interesting to see another Fleming... sigh one can dream!

    That's the kind of scenario I'd like to see.
  • Posts: 101
    Note also Bond leaves Campbell to die in OHMSS.
    Another tense scene.
    Is this as close as we come?
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    Note also Bond leaves Campbell to die in OHMSS.
    Another tense scene.
    Is this as close as we come?

    Please note I am not feeding Happiestinthesaddle here as we all know what he is by now buy in this respect he is spot on.

    Bond denouncing Campbell is one of the few great Fleming scenes left and would be a great inclusion for the Craig era. Although I suppose we have touched upon it with the death of Ronson in which Bond was somewhat as complicit as M.
  • Posts: 57
    Note also Bond leaves Campbell to die in OHMSS.
    Another tense scene.
    Is this as close as we come?

    Please note I am not feeding Happiestinthesaddle here as we all know what he is by now buy in this respect he is spot on.

    Bond denouncing Campbell is one of the few great Fleming scenes left and would be a great inclusion for the Craig era. Although I suppose we have touched upon it with the death of Ronson in which Bond was somewhat as complicit as M.

    Agree entirely. When I saw how he had to deal with Ronson I was on the edge of my seat with Skyfall.
  • doubleoegodoubleoego #LightWork
    Posts: 11,139
    The problem with Ronson though was, he had no exposition as a character. So, for me anyway it didn't seem as rough as Campbell; in whom we got to see more of.
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    doubleoego wrote:
    The problem with Ronson though was, he had no exposition as a character. So, for me anyway it didn't seem as rough as Campbell; in whom we got to see more of.

    And it was M making the call. Bond wouldve been disobeying orders had he stayed to help him.

    The big thing with the Campbell scene is that Bond lets him be marched off to his death rather than blow his cover. Theres an element of self preservation in the moral mix there as well as the mission which makes it more of a soul searching decision.
  • doubleoego wrote:
    The problem with Ronson though was, he had no exposition as a character. So, for me anyway it didn't seem as rough as Campbell; in whom we got to see more of.

    An interesting tidbit from the Skyfall commentary was Mendes talking about how Ronson was a very promising young agent, which Bond was fond of. A younger version of Bond himself. I think that had the viewer known it would have had much more of an effect, but without the commentary he's just Random MI6 Agent #436.
  • w2bondw2bond is indeed a very rare breed
    Posts: 2,252
    doubleoego wrote:
    The problem with Ronson though was, he had no exposition as a character. So, for me anyway it didn't seem as rough as Campbell; in whom we got to see more of.

    And it was M making the call. Bond wouldve been disobeying orders had he stayed to help him.

    The big thing with the Campbell scene is that Bond lets him be marched off to his death rather than blow his cover. Theres an element of self preservation in the moral mix there as well as the mission which makes it more of a soul searching decision.

    But we never care about Campbell. I don't think we even learn his name, or even his purpose in scaling the mountain. The only thing he does is hand Bond the safecracker, and the less astute (ie the general audience) probably won't even remember it was the same character in those two scenes. So perhaps what we need is a Bond faced with "needing" to kill Felix type of situation ?!
  • TheWizardOfIceTheWizardOfIce 'One of the Internet's more toxic individuals'
    Posts: 9,117
    w2bond wrote:
    doubleoego wrote:
    The problem with Ronson though was, he had no exposition as a character. So, for me anyway it didn't seem as rough as Campbell; in whom we got to see more of.

    And it was M making the call. Bond wouldve been disobeying orders had he stayed to help him.

    The big thing with the Campbell scene is that Bond lets him be marched off to his death rather than blow his cover. Theres an element of self preservation in the moral mix there as well as the mission which makes it more of a soul searching decision.

    But we never care about Campbell. I don't think we even learn his name, or even his purpose in scaling the mountain. The only thing he does is hand Bond the safecracker, and the less astute (ie the general audience) probably won't even remember it was the same character in those two scenes. So perhaps what we need is a Bond faced with "needing" to kill Felix type of situation ?!

    Talking about the literary Campbell. If you cant read the book at least read the rest of the posts in a thread.
  • edited April 2013 Posts: 12,828
    doubleoego wrote:
    The problem with Ronson though was, he had no exposition as a character. So, for me anyway it didn't seem as rough as Campbell; in whom we got to see more of.

    An interesting tidbit from the Skyfall commentary was Mendes talking about how Ronson was a very promising young agent, which Bond was fond of. A younger version of Bond himself. I think that had the viewer known it would have had much more of an effect, but without the commentary he's just Random MI6 Agent #436.

    That is intresting and it could've helped impact his death more if people had known that. They couldn't have crammed it into the PTS but when Bond meets M at her house they could've put in a few lines of dialogue talking about it.
  • edited April 2013 Posts: 4,622
    But when Campbell is marched away in the film, its not 100% that his cover is blown. Quite likely it might be,but Bond can't very well blow his own cover unless he absolutely has to. But I do think its quite clear that Campbell is a fellow agent. That is quite obvious, I think.
    In the book though, Bond disowns Campbell way worse, but again he has to, otherwise he gets killed too.
    I think realisitcally Bond did all he could for Ronson. And the filmmakers did take pains to let us know that help was on the way. There was nothing more to be done.
    M rather, comes across as the cold hardass, seemingly not even remotely concerned about her agent Ronson.
    btw, why no concern from Mi6 HQ regarding the other dead agents lying on the floor. The ones that Bond practically trips over on the way in. Sure, Bond knew they were dead, but what about those back at the office. They didn't seem to care one way or the other. Maybe they were badguys. I honestly have no idea who they were. Can anyone enlighten?
  • I was so very excited to see this thread and have enjoyed reading many of the posts here. At heart, the Bond films (and books, essentially) are really a genre to themselves. And within this genre, morals are rarely addressed and take a backseat to the plot and action. With this being said, I feel that it would be difficult to make a Bond or Bondian film with a character such as James Bond who, frankly, has little regard for morals and ethics. Now, I am not saying that Bond does not have morals. However, I believe that it would be fair to say that, if he indeed has them, he does not exhibit them. Bond is arguably a hedonist (at least, his portrayal in film suggests this much). When I think of Bond and his ethics, the brilliant scene from "GoldenEye" comes to mind, when Bond is on the beach in Cuba and Natalya approaches him to question his actions beforehand and his actions to come. This is one of the first times Bond was shown (in the films, at least) to give some thought to his inner-demons. For me, personally, this scene has always stood out to be one of the most endearing in the entire franchise, mainly because everything that Bond "is" is called into question (and not in the "SkyFall" way of relevance to the modern world, but his essence).

    "You think I'm impressed? All of you with your guns, your killing, your death. For what? So you can be a hero? All the heroes I know are dead. How can you act like this? How can you be so cold?" - Natalya Simonova ("GoldenEye")

    This wonderful, wonderful quote leads into one of the most cryptic lines ever spoken by Bond, words that actually seem sincere and in no way a double-entendre or witty as a one-liner: "It's what keeps me alive." To which Natalya responds, "No. It's what keeps you alone."

    Here, it would seem as though Natalya is questioning Bond's moral state. Questioning, in a sense, how Bond can live with himself after all the "killing" and "death." Would it be a step too far in questioning whether or not Bond's "moral compass" has been broken? Whether it be by his years of service, or just his nature as a human being? Perhaps the reason this scene stands out to me is because it's so...un-Bondian. And this leads me to what I'm really trying to say.

    Personally, I believe to explore these concepts in a Bond movie would be a very un-Bondian thing to do. To "challenge" a man who expresses little regard for ethics is inherently difficult to do. Yet, as the Bond movies continue to move deeper into the character of Bond and begin to layer him to show us what makes him tick, I do not think it would be too much of a leap to see Bond's morals come into question within in the next couple of films. How to do that? Well, that's the tricky part. Maybe, instead of having Bond face a moral or ethical "challenge," what if we began to see those around Bond begin to question his morals or ethics as a result of his actions. I don't mean having Bond go "too far" and then M or MI6 begin to question his ability as an agent. Perhaps have a Bond girl who embodies a more sensitive Natalya, who is more reluctant to go to bed with him because of his actions, because he is "cold."

    In all honesty, I'm not sure. I am in no way saying this is how Bond's morals and ethics should be challenged. This is just a part of my perspective on the Bond series. For further reading, there is a very well-written article published by Relevant Magazine by a seminary student. I'll post the link below.

    http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/film/james-bond-sex-and-masculinity
  • I already wrote on several occasions of that probably unique scene... Remember that Bond simply decided not to kill :

    old-woman-with-machine-gun.jpg
  • Interesting question. There are 3 types of "conflict" available to the storyteller: Man against Man, Man against Nature...and Man against Himself. Of these three, I consider Man against Himself inherently the most interesting...and also the hardest to dramatise in a visual medium. I think this is why so many recent Bond films have tried to develop a conflict between Bond and MI-6...but it's a cheap tack to take and I think it's about played out at this point. I'd like to see the theme addressed in a future film; ideally, Bond should be challenged in every conceivable way in a really top-ranked adventure!
  • edited April 2013 Posts: 2,189
    This is the way I see it. In the novel Casino Royale, Bond starts off as a conflicted agent who doesn't believe in good vs. evil, and who thinks of himself as being just as unethical as his 'enemy' counterparts. However, during his mission he encounters true evil, and it becomes solidified in his mind that their are really 'bad guys' out there, and as an agent of democracy it is his duty to protect the public by thwarting the cunning plans of these evil men. From that point on, every Bond villain is a truly evil person and he has no remorse about hunting them down and doing whatever is necessary to stop them. Sure there is collateral damage in that process, civilians, henchmen, allies, women, they all get hurt or killed in his dirty business, but at the end of the day he is kept warm at night by the fact that he is serving a higher duty, not so much for Queen and Country, but for humanity in some broader abstract sense which ties back into the idea of good vs. evil.

    When they started making the films, Sean's portrayal of Bond embodied this evolved mentality which the character develops during Casino Royale, and this attitude was for the most part shared by his successors in the role. That is of course until Daniel came along in 2006 when the seres was re-booted, and the film Casino Royale explored the development of the Bond character as seen in the novel. This exploration continued through QOS with the story arch about Vesper and his emotions for her. As QOS came to and end, so too should his period of confection as he should have made the revaluation about good vs. evil being a real battle which he was a pert of, and which ultimately justifies all his unethical actions. However, this was not the case as Skyfall saw Bond dealing with yet further emotional development regarding his morality and the state of good vs evil

    By the end of Skyfall I do believe that Bond's emotional journey should be at an end, and starting in Bond 24, we should see the re-imergince of the agent we saw in Sean in the 1960's, a cynical man who delights in his dirty job because, despite it's many moral low-points, along the way he gets to meet pretty girls, enjoy an expensive lifestyle, and in the end it helps stop true evil from poisoning our free society.
  • JRRJRR
    edited April 2013 Posts: 74
    I watched The Dark Knight the other day and I was so impressed by the way the Joker presented an ethical dilemma to the Batman. I then thought that it would be interesting to see Bond challenged in a similar way. However, there would be some difficulty in that as the Batman's one rule is that he does not kill, whereas Bond kills for a living. That said, should we explore the idea of forcing Bond to make tough moral choices, and if so, what would be the best way of going about it?

    Batman is the vigilante of policemen & women, he is locked into a crime war and his justice is seeing the villains taken out of commission, judged and juried in a court, then sent down with the full weight of the law.

    Bruce Wayne keeps his conscience clear doing everything in his mortal power not to kill, unless the villain is subject to an accident during a fight and he cannot save them.

    By keeping his adversaries alive, it leaves the possibility for them to decide for themselves if they want redemption; he then has the luxury of not being burdened with the extremely slim chance that they may have wanted turn over a new leaf, but against their will, had the prospect removed.

    James Bond’s character is different; in essence his core roots are tightly wound around the conflicted ethics and morels of a world sadly at war.

    At that time many were trying the defeat a single madman’s idea, in not only brainwashing his own people but also forcefully selling the filthy propaganda to the rest of the world with his war machine enforcing his callous desires.

    I think this is where Ian Fleming’s icon takes his moral code from, a past where men went off to war, faced with the difficulty of having to kill each other, to bring a halt to the evil tentacles stretching around continents and suffocating the liberty from the free world.

    The brave, allied stand held in the name of protecting the freedoms of so many innocent people, who ultimately sacrificed their precious lives for what was then and still is now, so vitally important.

    Then it must be also considered that so many caught on the wrong side, and through being trapped and believing to be patriotic held loyalty to their country, at the time when ill with hate propaganda and fear, many of them, also eventually knew that there would be no alternative way to stop the madman spreading insanity, cruelty and devastation across the globe, but to rid him from this world and his dictatorship.

    A human knowing that the only answer to preventing the unthinkable is to take a life, especially under wartime conditions, has to accept each day could be their last, depending on how well they look out for themselves and whether fate is going to be kind on any particular day.

    These factors influence the moment-to-moment decisions they make, even a moral mind who holds firm to their personal code will take every good opportunity to enjoy life when it offers a chance to live in the moment, “ethically of course”.

    James Bond can afford to live fast; he is “fictional” and a single man with no family commitments or dependencies, to question his conscience. The risks he takes, the womanising, personal health abuse and the need to have the absolute best, when it is on tap, to him should not and cannot be missed. The business of having to rid the world of the villainous evil, is chalked up to being a regretful but necessary requirement, and after all the world is, to a certain extent a place of free will, so his enemies had a very reasonable chance to be different and not follow the lure of wicked power.

    In GE Brosnan’s Bond had a moment, in his uncomfortable meeting with, Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky, where he claimed he shot him in the leg out of professional courtesy, this did illustrate Bonds desire to be restrained when the moment affords it, and left him able to use the past as a bargaining chip for information and an arranged meeting he needed to conduct on that later date.

    It would be good to see a bit more of this in the new films, it has been documented in history that in war, both sides, at bizarre times have shown great compassion to the other side, and fate has therefore saved the lives of some of the more fortunate and by a strange quirk of fate created a mutual respect.

    It gives bond the added element of seeking assistance from those whom he has shared a questionable past with, but in a future reunion, may extend the courtesy of some unexpected help.
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