This is what a James Bond Movie Universe would look like
Ever since Marvel proved that you could make a ton of money by expanding one movie into a multi-faceted, multi-media behemoth, Hollywood has been desperately working to turn everything from Universal's movie monsters to the works of Stephen King into a shared universe.
So we really shouldn't have been all that surprised when, back in June, rumours surfaced that the producers behind the James Bond films were looking to expand the franchise beyond a single series of movies.
With distribution rights to future Bond movies up for grabs, there came further speculation earlier this month that Apple – one potential bidder – was looking to secure a larger rights detail that could see Bond's mostly untapped TV potential exploited.
So is 007 about to do an MCU? And if so, which characters and idea from Ian Fleming's original stories, and their film adaptations, might be spun-off into solo projects? Here are a few possibilities.
1. Young Bond
So how best to exploit Bond's small-screen potential? How about lavish TV series exploring Bond's past?
There's little to draw on in Fleming's source material, but if they were thinking smart, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G Wilson – the guardians of all things 007 – would work from the existing series of Young Bond novels.
Charlie Higson wrote five novels exploring Bond's teenage life, starting with 2005's SilverFin and ending with 2008's By Royal Command. Steve Cole picked up the mantle from 2014, with his first novel Shoot to Kill picking up after Bond's expulsion from Eton.
The books have mostly been well received, so adapting them for the screen seems like an obvious move if one were looking to expand the 007-verse. But two film series, running consecutively, both with Bond as the central character, might feel like overkill. Better that Young Bond finds a home on television.
The last two Daniel Craig movies have already expanded on Moneypenny's character, transforming M's secretary into a former field agent who gets to do much more than just lap up Bond's risqué quips.
Could she get her own spin-off? Again, there's precedent, with Samantha Weinberg penning The Moneypenny Diaries from 2005 to 2008, a series of novels and short stories that re-examined events in Bond's history from her perspective.
Besides, surely Naomie Harris OBE deserves more than a mere supporting role alongside Daniel Craig after earning an Oscar nomination for her performance in last year's Moonlight?
3. Felix Leiter
Here's another of Bond's longest-standing allies, and as essentially an American equivalent to our agent 007, the CIA's finest Felix Leiter could absolutely carry his own film series.
Again, if they want him, Broccoli and Wilson have a leading man in waiting in Jeffrey Wright, who demonstrated his versatility and skill in HBO's Westworld after being rather underused in his two Bond outings, 2006's Casino Royale and 2008's Quantum of Solace.
And again there's already source material to plunder. Dynamite Entertainment launched a Felix Leiter comicbook mini-series in January of this year, with his first solo adventure taking Felix to Japan, where he investigates a terrorist act and tracks a woman from his past who appears to be a Russian spy. Intriguing!
4. Young M
The flagship series might have laid Judi Dench's no-nonsense MI6 boss to rest, but how about a spin-off movie or two exploring her past?
In the post-Casino Royale continuity, it's implied that Dench's M has worked at MI6 for some time ("I miss the Cold War!"), and we learn from Skyfall that she had quite the career before Bond came along, including selling out her agent Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) for engaging in illegal hacking.
Presumably, Silva wasn't the only skeleton in her closet, as she posthumously orders Bond (via video message) to assassinate Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona) in Spectre. What else was M hiding? What else did she get up to before she met Bond? It's rich backstory just waiting to be plundered.
5. Bond girl spin-offs
Of course, this isn't the first time that Team Bond have considered an expanded universe. In the wake of Tomorrow Never Dies, there was reportedly some consideration to giving Michelle Yeoh's kick-ass Chinese Intelligence agent Wai Li her own spin-off film.
A few years later and a film picking up with Halle Berry's Jinx after the events of Die Another Day got as far as hiring Oscar nominee Stephen Frears to direct, though MGM eventually pulled the plug.
Could future Bond girls inspire spin-offs? Or might there still be mileage in revisiting one of Daniel Craig's previous leading ladies? We're thinking maybe Olga Kurylenko's Camille Montes, a standout character with her own motivations and agency in the otherwise muddled and middling Quantum of Solace.
6. Animated spin-offs
Marvel has made animated series a key part of their shared cinematic universe, with a a six-part web series, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Slingshot, debuting on ABC.com in December 2016. Before that, both The Matrix series and Christopher Nolan's Batman movies had their worlds fleshed out in animated side-projects (2003's The Animatrix and 2008's Batman: Gotham Knight, respectively).
Could Bond go down this route, with an animated anthology exploring uncharted corners of 007's world? Like the aforementioned Matrix and Batman spin-offs, it would be a great opportunity to allow visionary filmmakers and animators an opportunity to offer their own diverse takes on the Bond-verse.
In any event, it can't be any worse than James Bond Jr.
7. The novels adapted for TV
This one's a long shot, but how glorious would it be if alongside the traditional Bond movies we got a series of TV adaptations of Ian Fleming's original novels, as period pieces? Like that 1954 telly version of Casino Royale, only a lot less limp.
The films as they stand are wonderful, but a far cry from Fleming's source material, which feature a harder, less easy-to-like but just as fascinating Bond, a somewhat tragic figure who doesn't always get a happy ending.
Imagine a faithful adaptation of Moonraker – a terrific spy thriller that has almost zero connection to the Star Wars-aping film beyond the title – maybe playing out over two or three nights? We can but dream.