I vaguely remember a snippet from PG Wodehouse' "Our man in America" pieces. It goes something like this (NOT verbatim quoting since my memory is pretty poor. Yes! Yes! THAT is not my only flaw, thanks for reminding)
There has been a huge renaissance in Western movies. In the movies of the past, when the outlaw rode into town, the Sheriff used to meet him on the street in a duel and shoot him to doll-rags. Nowadays, he calls him in, psycho-analyses him, and finds that Bill holds up stages and shoots up the Malemute Saloon on Sundays because someone deprived him of his all-day sucker at the age of six. After which, Bill sells the movie rights to his life-story for a huge sum and retires to California. The movies, in the past, had the Army commandant fight battles with the Indians and kill them to the last man. Now, he calls them for a palaver ("Is all this scalping really necessary?"), after which they toddle off, go into the hay, corn and seed business and do well.
Something like that seems to have happened to James Bond. There was a time when he used to fight megalomaniac villains, who thought large - bringing about the end of the world, setting up space stations and such other interesting objectives. Now, he is reduced to fighting villains with a mother-fixation on 'M'. Where is the magnificence of megalomania and where is this paltry chasing of some sort of exalted serial killer? What next? Two hours of murder and mayhem, and unveiling a six year old boy, who thinks he is playing a computer game, as the master villain?
There was a time when Bond used to run over roof-tops, jump down sewers and fight villains, and within seconds enter a party as though he had stepped out of a band-box, with not a hair out of place. A sort of aspiring Hollywood Rajnikant. Now, he actually gets hurt, sports wounds and shows pain! What a fall for the original super-spy! In the near-future, I am sure there will be a movie with Bond, with his arm in a sling, being protected by others and hustled to safety. Or, horror of horrors, Bond having a heart-to-heart chat with the villain, causing the villain to repent and defuse the nuclear device he set up under the White House.
Time was when Bond's car was a combo car-submarine-airplane, in addition to being invisible sometimes; when his pen could do everything, including writing; when his watch was a laser, magnet and what not (it also showed time); and when you knew that if his car fell off the mountain into a gorge, he would come floating down on a parachute, if not flying a glider. NOW...I just cannot speak, my heart is too full. More of this and Bond might as well be a character from John le Carre's novels instead of Ian Fleming's.(My name is Smiley, George Smiley?)
But why Bond, alone? Batman is now an angst-ridden person resolving inner conflicts; Hercules and Achilles are mere battle-scarred warriors and not superhuman heroes; Loki is not a capricious god but merely driven by jealousy of the perceived favoritism shown by Odin to Thor - in fact, it seems like Hollywood has declared war against all elements of fantasy that is set anywhere in the 'real' world. I hope I will not live to see the time when there is a movie in which Hogwarts is set up by humans from a parallel universe and the wands are voice-activated devices that are programmed to do what the words mean.
When there is a whole world of movies for all this realism, this angst and all this agonizing, why pick on Bond? Or any of the other tales that mixed fantasy into the everyday world? Am I a lone dinosaur and is the rest of viewing world demanding realism in their movies - including the children who used to love these larger-than-life characters? Or is it that the directors feel the pressing need to show that they can do something more 'intellectual' than what the franchises have always stood for? Has the world grown away from all escapist entertainment and prefers everything to be more...mundane?
Maybe the day will come when some genius of a Hollywood director will film "The Tempest" with Prospero being a Computer genius, and Ariel and Caliban are mere apps! I hope that I will not live to see the day!