With Daniel Craig set to bow out as 007 in the forthcoming Bond 25, rumours are already flying as to the future of the franchise.
True Detective and Maniac director Cary Fukunaga (a replacement for Danny Boyle) is manning the ship, working from a script variously written by Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Scott Z. Burns and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The story picks up with Bond in his spiritual home of Jamaica, where he's compelled to help old CIA friend Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright). And hovering in the background is Oscar-winner Rami Malek as a mysteriously unnamed villain.
Speculation is mounting as to the role of one cast member, plus there's a suggestion an old face could return..
Is Lashana Lynch going to become the new James Bond?
Actor Lashana Lynch shot to fame earlier this year through her portrayal of pilot Maria Rambeau in Captain Marvel. She's now transitioning from the superhero realm to the world of international espionage and, although her role is yet to be confirmed, rumour has it she's the heir apparent to the role of 007.
The Daily Mail (not necessarily the most reputable of sources) reports: "There is a pivotal scene at the start of the film where M says, 'Come in 007,' and in walks Lashana who is black, beautiful and a woman. It's a popcorn-dropping moment. Bond is still Bond, but he's been replaced as 007 by this stunning woman."
Certainly there's always been the suggestion that 007 is nothing but a number, and his mantle can possibly be adopted by other agents, even those of a different gender. With the future of the series up in the air, maybe this is the big swing for diversity and representation needed to advance the mythology of the Bond universe.
The Mail, quoting from an unnamed 'source', adds: "Bond, of course, is sexually attracted to the new female 007 and tries his usual seduction tricks, but is baffled when they don't work on a brilliant, young black woman who basically rolls her eyes at him and has no interest in jumping into his bed. Well, certainly not at the beginning.' They also add: "We were all told that from now on they are to be addressed as 'Bond women'."
This is rumoured to stem from Phoebe Waller-Bridge's script revisions – the Fleabag star was brought in at fan Daniel Craig's behest to punch up the script and add more humour.
"There's been a lot of talk about whether or not Bond is relevant now because of who he is and the way he treats women," Waller-Bridge says. "I think that's b******s. I think he's absolutely relevant now. [The franchise] has just got to grow. It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn't have to. He needs to be true to his character."
It remains to be seen whether British actress Lynch will turn out to be the new 007. What we do know is she joins fellow performers Lea Seydoux (returning as Madeleine Swann from Spectre) and Blade Runner 2049's Ana De Armas, plus returnees Naomie Harris as Moneypenny, Ralph Fiennes as M and Ben Whishaw as Q.
Is Christoph Waltz returning as Blofeld in Bond 25?
Previous Bond movie Spectre introduced two-time Oscar-winner Christoph Waltz as the most iconic 007 villain of them all: Blofeld. And yet, although Blofeld's reputation as a classic bad guy preceded him, not to mention Waltz's own status as a Quentin Tarantino favourite, we couldn't help be slightly disappointed at the lack of menace in the portrayal – the sight of a slippered mastermind walking around lecturing Bond about meteorites didn't exactly resound with menace.
Spectre of course culminated with Blofeld being apprehended by the authorities in London. Bond then seemingly gave up the life, driving off into the distance with Madeleine Swann in his classic Aston Martin DB5. No doubt this paves the way for Bond 25, and it's now being suggested that Waltz's nefarious nemesis will return to create havoc.
Sources close to Hollywood trade paper Variety suggest Christoph Waltz will be back as Blofeld in Bond 25. The news was originally leaked by a source close to The Daily Mail's entertainment correspondent Baz Bamingboye.
In Spectre, it was revealed that Blofeld was the figure puppet-mastering all the previous villains in the Daniel Craig Bond series. Should he return, no doubt he will be of a mind to take revenge and marshal all his considerable resources to make 007's life a living hell. How he connects to Rami Malek's antagonist remains to be seen – Waltz has been absent from press conferences and cast lists, so it may just be a cameo, or perhaps an allusion to his appearance in future Bond movies...
When is Bond 25 released?
Bond 25 is released in the UK on 3rd April 2020, having been shunted back from November 2019 and February 2020. The movie has suffered a troubled production with vacating directors (the aforementioned Danny Boyle), Daniel Craig's on-set ankle injury and a fire plaguing the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios.
Is Lashana Lynch the new 007? And will Christoph Waltz return as Blofeld? Let us know @Cineworld.