In Cormac McCarthy’s horrific work Blood Meridian, the antagonist Judge Holden is a character that will haunt your dreams. He’s multi-talented, intellectual, physically intimidating, and a natural born killer. Despite the book taking place over many years, the Judge never ages. By the end, he claims that he can never die.
Judge Holden is a bearer of violence. A deliverer of death to all. A being that is more unearthly, or ungodly, than human. He’s the evil that awaits everyone. War, and by extension violence, is his God.
Time doesn’t apply to him.
Thanks to the age of the Internet, popular fan theories have tried to make sense of James Bond’s “rolling timeline”. While Bond was blowing up Kananga in Live and Let Die, was he also aware of the time he made a man drink oil in Quantum of Solace? Did Bond massacre an army in an airplane hanger in Octopussy before he massacred another army in Goldeneye?
To make this timeline understandable, many fans have constructed the “code name” theory…or the idea that the name “James Bond” is used by different agents over the decades. This would explain why there’s different actors playing the character, along with whatever arcs they might’ve had during their tenure, and why they don’t carry over into the next actor.
Clearly, there are many, MANY, problems associated with this theory. Namely the characters of Felix Leiter and Ms. Moneypenny. Are they “code names” as well? Additionally, it seems apparent that Daniel Craig remembers the events of Goldfinger in Skyfall, and Roger Moore and Sean Connery the events in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
(There are many other examples that disprove this theory. Watch the video above)
In fact, the only GOOD evidence for this theory is when George Lazenby utters “this never happened to the other fellow” to himself in OHMSS. But I’d rather chalk that up to bad writing than proof that “James Bond” is a code name.
Unfortunately this idea has been picking up steam.
Apparently director Lee Tamahori wanted to inject this idea into Die Another Day. Rumor had it that Skyfall also wanted to introduce it (I never verified that though). And someone mentioned on the James Bonding Podcast that producer Michael G. Wilson’s son favors the idea and wants to introduce it when he’s handed the reigns.
(I should mention, that this is all mostly rumor. I don’t fact-check shit)
In our fad of “extended universes” (which the Bond producers want to explore), I fear that it’s only a matter of time before the “code name” becomes official canon.
And I hate it. It’s not only stupid, but it cheapens the character himself.
I’ve written extensively about James Bond. Perhaps to a fault. I know that I have an obsession and I probably need to seek help. But the character is more than a mere man, or “men”. He’s an idea. He’s the deliverer of violence…a messenger of the God of War. He does the evil necessary to restore order to the universe. Normal constraints of time does not apply to him.
He only administers death. He cannot be killed.
As a side note, this is why Connery and Craig are the best Bonds. To quote Connery himself, they understand the “danger aspect” to the character. They’re borderline sociopaths. Killing is what they do because it’s the ONLY thing they can do.
They aren’t like mortal men.
James Bond is the representation of an age. He might take on different forms, but he’s still the same man. He adapts to the needs of a time…to fight evil, sometimes with evil. But James Bond can’t die. He always returns. By making him a “code name”, it simply makes him mortal….or better yet…a series of mortal men.
Like Judge Holden, James Bond is not quite a supernatural being. But he doesn’t quite fit the status of human being. Both the Judge and Bond are in service to the same God. The Judge might’ve chosen a different path…a path that services evil for the sake of evil itself. While Bond found employment in Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But both characters don’t quite work as mortal beings…but the embodiment of concept, or the darker aspects to the human mind.
And by applying a “timeline” will make the character more man than myth.
I don’t only object to the “code name theory” because it doesn’t make sense, but it’s also artistically lazy. IMO.