The enduring popularity of 007


James Bond has been entertaining the public in one form or other for more than 60 years now, a remarkably long time for any character to endure. From his origins in the pages of Ian Fleming’s novels and short stories, James Bond grew with the Eon film series (and others), comics, board games, computer games, toys, music, and a million and one other collectibles.

Few other characters have managed to have such lasting appeal, falling by the wayside as they become become outdated. Sherlock Holmes is one who has endured, but it is hard to recall many others who have survived so long; Superman, Batman and Dr Who perhaps.

While James Bond was very much a product of his era, the films series has made sure that he is updated often enough to keep him contemporary. However, that is not the only reason for James Bond’s continuing popularity.

Many of us like the gadgets, girls and guns; the fast cars, high living and martinis mixed to exacting standards.

Sometimes the gadgets are fun, although all too often they give James Bond a licence to get out of any kind of trouble with the raise of an eyebrow. However, they are not the essence of what James Bond is about. Nor are the clothes, the watches, nor the cars, although they are all attractive items to have. No, I think there is something much more basic in our attraction to Bond.

One characteristic I think is attractive to so many is his ability to know how to behave in any situation. Be it dealing with a henchman, visiting a casino or coping with local customs, or served food he is unfamiliar with, he gets on with it; this is a truly useful skill to have.

But more than that though is Bond’s tenacity. He never gives up.

So many of us would like to keep going when facing challenges of our own, yet it is all too easy to simply give up and blame it on fate, or some other cause.

007 doesn’t have the luxury of being able to give in though. For him he must continue or die, something few of us are faced with in our day-to-day lives. But this is the characteristic of a hero, ploughing on as far as he can until he either defeats, or is defeated, by his enemy.

David Leigh founded The James Bond Dossier in 2002. A fan of 007 since the age of 8, he is also author of The Complete Guide to the Drinks of James Bond. You can order a copy here if you don't own it already.

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2 Responses to “The enduring popularity of 007”

  • Rich

    Yes, well stated about knowing how to act in any situation. However you left out another endearing element of Bond’s appeal in that he knows exactly how to handle fast cars, propeller planes, jets, tanks, speedboats and more. Now that is remarkable wouldn’t you agree?

  • Ben Gunn

    Also as Eco pointed out, Fleming based the stories on various myths, Goldfinger is the most obvious, King Midas.