At this point, it’s hard for the Bond films to not collapse into some infinite causality loop: This deep into a 50-year-old franchise, there’s hardly anything new under the sun. Case in point: I feel as if Bond’s been on skis for half that time (and a snow-based action scene has been in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, A View to Kill, The Living Daylights, The World is Not Enough and Die Another Day). So for the first look at Spectre to be a behind-the-scenes bit about shooting in the Austrian alps feels both very Bond and very boring.
Meanwhile, over here, directors Guy Ritchie and Matthew Vaughn have decided that the way to make Bond for the 21st century is to remember that — for all the gadgets and sharp suits and beautiful women and exotic locales — there’s no reason a spy film can’t also be fun as shit.
The first trailer for Ritchie’s The Man from UNCLE reboot keeps the Cold War setting so that the set-up — American spy Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) has to work with Russian agent Ilya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) to stop, well, bad guys from doing bad things — still holds together. Despite the boggling array of fake accents at work — the British Cavill is doing a Yankee accent, while the American Hammer is doing his best Ivan Drago — they’re clearly aiming for the same pulpy good time that Ritchie got out of his Sherlock Holmes films.
And Matthew Vaughn took Bond and the X-Men, put it in a blender, added a shit-ton of vodka and Red Bull, and delivered an espionage smoothie called Kingsman: The Secret Service out on 2/13 that just wants to DANCE ITS FUCKING FACE OFF:
And then, of course, there’s FX’s Archer, which is just filthy. And amazing. And amazingly filthy. And still manages to be a completely legit spy adventure every week while being the most amazingly filthy cartoon on television.
Of course, it’s too early to tell what the rest of Spectre will be like — for all we know, it could be 100 minutes of Bond tripping balls — but it seems as if Hollywood is no longer content to let 007 own the spy game uncontested. So, hey, Mr. Bond: It’s time to step your game up.
Marc Bernardin is the Deputy Editor of Playboy.com. His mother wouldn’t let him see Octopussy because, well, it was called Octopussy. He doesn’t blame her.