What makes James Bond enduring is that he is constantly reinvented on the big screen in new idiosyncratic avatars portrayed by thespians like Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and, most recently, Pierce Brosnan. Through it all Bond's mission remains compelling: to fight the megalomaniac villain. (You'd be forgiven if you thought his mission was to shill for brands.)
There's a certain panache and sophistication with which James Bond goes about doing his job. An archetype spy who solves problems without a hint of sentimentality, Bond's presence is defined by his Britishness, incorruptibility, sex appeal, style, love of fast cars, shaken-not-stirred martinis and a famous prologue: "Bond, James Bond."
More than half the world's population has seen a Bond film. The films used to be compulsory viewing for KGB agents fascinated by Bond's killer gadgets (notwithstanding his aversion to the communist regime). When it comes the stunts, guns and gadgets, Bond has no equal. After all he's ordained to save mankind from destruction. The perfect embodiment of the societal changes sweeping the world in the 60s, he was sexually liberated and a dedicated individualist. James Bond influenced how we think of espionage, technology, fashion, politics, architecture and music.
Bond's origin can be traced back to Ian Fleming’s home at Oracabessa in Jamaica, where one of his "bibles" was the classic reference book Birds of the West Indies by the American ornithologist James Bond. Fleming determined that his secret agent should be as anonymous a personality as possible, and it struck him that this name – brief, unromantic, and yet masculine – was just what he needed. Fleming incorporated several characteristics from there into his James Bond, among them the famous stiff upper lip and the British humor.
Bond was created with the publication of Ian Fleming's 1953 novel Casino Royale, but his first film appearance came almost a decade later when Albert R. Broccoli became interested in the Ian Fleming "Bond" stories. Broccoli formed Eon Productions, together with Canadian producer and rights' holder Harry Saltzman, and in l962 produced the first Bond film, Dr. No, which set the pattern for the successive adventures of the suave British secret agent, 007. Since then, 007's adventures have taken him around the globe, creating an unparalleled legacy of secret missions, formidable villains, memorable henchmen, cool gadgets, fast cars and the famously beautiful Bond girls.
The popularity of the Bond movies is due to the fairytale and wish-fulfillment character of its hero, but also largely to special effects and stunts, which, of course, were not performed by the actors themselves but by some of the finest stuntmen in the business.
The Bond movies have achieved a cult status partly because 007 has never been politically correct. He kills in cold blood in the name of his country and he makes love to a lot of beautiful women without a care for the future or past. Because he is a man, his character emerges unscathed despite the fact that he often prostitutes himself in the service of Her Majesty, the Queen.
As James Bond celebrates his 40th anniversary in the movies, his future assignments can be best left to viewers' imagination. To keep his legend alive, Bond must continue to dominate popular culture, schlep vodka and car brands, and power the fantasies of audiences worldwide. The world will change, but the filmmakers must be wise enough not to change Bond too much.