Writer’s Notes on “007: Heir Apparent”
A companion reference to my fan-fiction film script “Idris Elba in 007: Heir Apparent”, including footnotes and commentary. These notes were originally placed within the script as “comments”, but I have elected to streamline my medium profile and present them all in one document.
The large number to the left of the text is the corresponding Scene Number from the script. I recommend opening “Heir Apparent” and this companion document in separate web browser tabs for easy reference between the two.
- A comedic exploration of my thoughts on James Bond, the film character, can be found in “My Bond is your Bond”.
- A behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the poster art for the script can be seen in my post ‘The “Heir Apparent” Poster’.
1 The first “Bond” had to be as mythical as any. I wanted to go over the top without sending him to Moonraker or “nuking the fridge”.
2 Montage & Voiceover — I wanted to spend as much time with Idris Elba as possible after setting the stage, so the origin of “Bond” was kept short. The “Bond as code-name” origin has its enemies; but I believe it is a graceful and perpetual solution.
I remember, at eight years old, asking my mother why and how Connery/Moore/Dalton were all Bond despite the differences in the characterizations: this is a common question posed by the series.
I also prefer this ten-minute origin to the backstory of one Bond’s childhood that we were offered in Skyfall: why labor to provide answers to questions no one asked and avoid the one real question?
“Civilization” or something like it — Justice’ “Civilization” has a modern sound and a direct relationship to the themes of the story. Re-working the song to add an orchestra would help bridge the WWII scene to present day.
3 Visual style/color — After the WWII opening the film would be filtered to favor purple in shadows and gold in light (see my poster art). The current norm in Hollywood is to filter video colors to favor teal and orange. The colorization does compliment Daniel Craig’s eyes- and this is an opportunity for Bond to step outside the herd and do something film-specific to compliment new star Idris Elba.
An entertaining article about Hollywood’s obsession with teal and orange can be found here.
The Stoic Soldier — An example of Idris Elba’s work in Pacific Rim.
6 Aialik Glacier — More information can be found here.
7 Ethnic jokes — It was important to me to acknowledge racial issues a little bit but I didn’t want to do “Black Bond” (“That Man Bolt” is screaming for a remake though!). Unfortunately a Bond of any ethnic minority might encounter a bit more racism than he does in this script.
Comedic tone — I call the Daniel Craig character “Haunted Bond”. I wanted to bring back more of the tongue-in-cheek comedy from Brosnan, Moore, and Connery’s films while not crossing into spoof territory. This isn’t to say Daniel Craig’s Bond is without any humor but- he doesn’t deliver the lines in the old “knowing” fashion I loved in previous Bonds- his is a gloomy world.
It was also important to separate Elba’s Bond from Elba’s “Luther”.
8 No Coasting — Bond has done almost any kind of snow chase you can imagine in previous films. Not this time. I further explained my distaste for Bond’s ski fetish in “My Bond Is Your Bond”.
9 Overeem casting — A big Bond requires a big villain. Overeem has a great combination of physicality and personality, speaks several languages, and has a casual sense of humor. This is a speaking role. Overeem also has an incredible martial arts pedigree to inform choreography. “Hornet” is meant to be plausible while also fitting nicely with “Oddjob”, “Jaws” and other colorful Bond villains.
Overeem’s KO of Teixeira — Though the knockout shown was legal in competition at the time; the Thai Plum Clinch was outlawed by K-1 Kickboxing soon after. Many believe this was a rule-change to handicap Overeem as he tore through the ranks.
10 Rap version of “The Man With The Golden Gun” — See Diamonds Are Forever rap by The Game below for a stylistic example of the sound (NSFW lyrics): 300 Bars — Diamonds Are Forever Sample.
Hornet’s Suit — An article explaining the design of the suit is here.
11 Car choice — I know Bond has a relationship with Aston Martin, but I wanted something more exotic than the Ford Motors-owned brand, and completely unlike the invisible car (from Die Another Day) in body style (the Vanquish body style is still present in Aston Martin bodies). The ‘Stirling Moss also allowed Bond to obscure his face from Leopold with the racing helmet.
12 Musical styles — The Bond films should reflect their times a bit. Some of the most timeless films are those that take place in a definite era: all films become dated- so embrace it (with some class and restraint- no disco). Pop music has featured bass heavy riffs for many years. I’m not asking for a techno song- just a touch more funk to acknowledge what the kids are into these days.
14 Why New York City? Bond hasn’t yet spent much time in NYC. Truthfully you could swap out any major city in the world and probably find similar locations to film the same scenes in.
16 Subway punks — This is a Bond version of one of my favorite New York scenes: teenage hooligans picking fights with strangers only to be outclassed by their victim. Three times I have witnessed punks retreat in quiet fear after little more than a hard gaze from an older, unafraid, New Yorker. NYC, where anyone on the street could be anyone, quickly teaches kids to be wary of strangers.
17 Felix, Bond, and age — Agents like Bond and Felix Leiter shouldn’t be youthful: these positions require years of training AND field experience to achieve. Cynthia Rothrock is an experienced actress and a great martial arts performer who can carry combat in the final action scenes.
22 Advanced Sonar Imaging — This gadget is not new to cinema as variations on it have been done before. As a result the focus of this scene should be on Bond, Felix, and M rather than the special effects.
23 McGeary casting — For the hit-man tasked with killing Bond I wanted someone a bit faster looking than Overeem but still able to look Elba in the eye. The six-foot-five McGeary is a great fighter, a Brit, and has a well-traveled look that could really work for a hired hit-man.
38 The Train Car Fight — See the original fight in From Russia With Love, which is still great, here.
47 Second-skin strips — Maybe they use nano technology to identify your actual skin composition and clone it?
The Pink Ones — As a white man I am very aware that there are limits to my understanding of the black experience. I rely on my black American wife and other friends to keep me in check. I believe that you should write what you know- and in this case I needed people who knew. The pink Band-Aids joke is common in the homes of people who are not pink.
The Automatic Coldpress — A small and valuable gadget for someone who is bound to accumulate bruises between martinis.
49 Doomsday Machine — Many films make extensive use of ticking clocks and Deus Ex Machina. The rain-forest paver is the closest thing to a doomsday machine in this script. With the assassinations becoming more frequent and the heirs sending hit-men after him: Bond simply falls into a personal race to kill or be killed.
The rain-forest paver — General Motor’s Futurama display at the 1964 NY World’s Fair featured a tractor capable of independently clear-cutting and paving through rain-forest. It’s the stuff of videogame villainy and perfect for Bond. My design is influenced by modern tractors for a believable look.
Read and see more of the GM Fururama here.
50 Location: fictional — I wanted the stage for the final battle to be a character in itself. In classic Bond-film style this location melodramatically represents a theme of the story. I make a few references to environmental causes in the script: these kinds of places are more horrific than any shark tank.
Think overgrown Machu Picchu on the shores of this a lake polluted beyond repair.
BBC did a frightening story about the pictured lake, here.
53 Villain monologues have had their time. Bond doesn’t need the villain to go into exposition when he can talk to M, Q, or Felix instead. Leopold is flashy and stupid enough to have a theatrical conversation, so I gave him a moment. Any time it started to feel like a Broadway Play I cut it down: the action audience doesn’t need the breathing room or the explanation, this is a post Music Video world!
No Question — Classic Bond famously states “questions”. He isn’t really asking. No “?” is needed here.
69 The “Sharksuit” — I felt this was a cool gadget, like the scuba gear from Thunderball re-imagined for a new environment. It is literally just a cross between a sharkskin suit and a scuba suit- with futuristic technology.
72 Bond the “slasher” — Bond’s kill count is very low this time. It didn’t make sense for Bond to spray enemies with an automatic weapon at any point. Yes Bond can leave a path of destruction in his wake- but why would a spy kill hundreds of people if he didn’t have to? I also feel more concerned for a Bond who doesn’t display a Jason Voorhees-like ability to kill his way through all obstacles.
Watching a “slasher” Bond give himself up for torture is also nerve wracking: why wouldn’t he crash a helicopter into the roof of the villain’s hideout and then turn it into swiss cheese with an AK47?
If Bond appears to struggle with formidable opponents, instead of slicing through all enemies with ease, he is more human and therefore more sympathetic.
78 No sex in the Bond film? — Sex is a Bond tradition and I was slightly torn about cutting it down. Should Bond sleep with women who don’t have information related to his mission simply to feed a carnal desire? Would one night with a stranger cause a woman to gladly divulge her secrets? Or should Bond “fall in love” with someone he just met and we will probably not see in the next film.
I think there are two ways to handle Bond’s love life in the modern world: 1) He never falls in love and simply sleeps around or 2) he falls in love and the romance continues through several films.
You could even be postmodern and allow him an “open marriage”. Ultimately Bond’s love life needs some retooling and I wasn’t going to try and do that here.
Duration — This script is probably a 90-minute film. Rather than extend the action sequences, add another one, let the villains monologue, or develop a deep romance, I chose to focus on Elba being Bond. Bond, the man of action, focused on completing the first mission of his new career.
The final sequence could have been lengthened by having Bond, solitary, face all enemies himself. It made more sense for Bond to call in the cavalry and wrap things up faster.
If this script were to be taken into production there is plenty of room for embellishment and change.
B.O.N.D.? — Yes, I have considered what I would do for a sequel.