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Every James Bond Movie Not Based on Ian Fleming’s Books, in Chronological Order


Every James Bond Movie Not Based on Ian Fleming’s Books, in Chronological Order


Based on Ian Fleming’s novels and short stories, James Bond is a British MI6 spy with a license to kill and a fondness for women and martinis — always shaken, never stirred. Ever since he appeared on our movie screens in 1962 — dressed in a dapper tuxedo, playing cards while coolly lighting a cigarette — the 007 secret agent has become a cultural phenomenon.



61 years later, the Bond franchise shows no signs of slowing down. It’s cast six different actors as 007 and has produced a whopping 25 canon films (27 if you count the non-canon movies). But not all of these films are based on Ian Fleming’s stories. For this list, we perused Bond’s 61-year cinematic history and pinpointed which films aren’t based at all on Ian Fleming’s work.



Honorable Mentions

There are a handful of James Bond movies that have original stories but still incorporate elements, major characters, and scenes from Fleming’s stories. This technically means that they’re based on the author’s work, however loosely it may seem. For instance, although Octopussy borrows its title from Fleming’s short story collection Octopussy and The Living Daylights, its plot is largely original.

The film does, however, borrow the titular character and her background from Fleming’s work and also adapts a scene from the story. License to Kill, which stars Timothy Dalton as 007, also has an original plot, though it draws on Ian Fleming’s source material, in particular his novel Live and Let Die and his short story “The Hildebrand Rarity”, which is only one of four Fleming titles that have never been used for a James Bond movie. Die Another Day, which marked Pierce Brosnan’s final performance as 007, is another original story that borrows elements from Fleming’s novels Moonraker and The Man with the Golden Gun.


And then, there’s Spectre. No villain in 007’s rogue’s gallery is more famous than Ernst Blofeld. He’s Bond’s archenemy, the Joker to 007’s Batman. Blofeld is the criminal mastermind behind SPECTRE, the villainous organization that aspires to world domination. SPECTRE and Blofield were recurring villains and major parts of Fleming’s novels. Not only did Blofeld and his top-secret organization appear in Spectre, but Sam Mendes, the film’s director, also changed Blofeld’s background by merging him with a character from Octopussy and The Living Daylights.

Fleming’s short story features a character named Franz Oberhauser and mentions his father, Hannes Oberhauser, who Bond cites in the story as an important paternal figure in his life. Mendes used these elements in Spectre by combining Franz and Blofeld into one character and using Hanne’s close relationship with 007 as a starting point for Bond and Blofeld’s rivalry. Although these films do draw inspiration from Fleming’s work, we at least wanted to give them an honorable mention for their originality.


Goldeneye (1995)

GoldenEye

GoldenEye

Release Date
November 16, 1995

Runtime
130

Goldeneye was the first movie in the James Bond franchise not to use any elements from Ian Fleming’s stories — aside from James Bond himself and his usual supporting cast, of course. The film does, however, borrow one aspect of the author’s life: Goldeneye is actually the name of Fleming’s estate on Oracabessa Bay in Jamaica.

Inspired by the Dissolution of the Soviet Union

Aside from that one small detail, Goldeneye is an original story that was inspired by the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Here, 007’s past comes back to haunt him, as he attempts to stop a Russian crime syndicate from utilizing a deadly space-based weapon known as “GoldenEye”.


Goldeneye’s release sparked a wave of original movies for the franchise. It also cast another new actor as James Bond: Pierce Brosnan, who often tops the rankings of 007 actors. Goldeneye also introduced a new M, the codename for Bond’s boss and the chief of MI6. Here, M turned out to be a female, a great contrast to the womanizing Bond. Played perfectly by Judi Dench, this new version would go on to become the definitive M of the franchise. Dench’s role was even carried over into the Casino Royale reboot. Rent Goldeneye on Amazon Prime Video.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

After Goldeneye became a box office smash, MGM made it their priority to capitalize on the film’s success and pump out a sequel as quickly as possible. The result was the underwhelming Tomorrow Never Dies, which was Pierce Brosnan’s second turn as 007. The movie follows Bond as he attempts to stop a power-hungry media mogul, Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce), from engineering world events to spark World War III.


Based on Rupert Murdoch and Ian Robert Maxwell

Tomorrow Never Dies comments on the dangerous power of the media. And its villain is based on both News Corp media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Ian Robert Maxwell, a British media proprietor, politician, and fraudster, who also happens to be the father of the infamous Ghislaine Maxwell. The film’s title was inspired by the Beatles’ song “Tomorrow Never Knows” and was the first title not to bear any relation to Fleming’s life or work. Rent Tomorrow Never Dies on Amazon Prime Video.

The World Is Not Enough (1999)

In The World Is Not Enough, James Bond must stop an international terrorist who can’t feel pain and intercept his scheme to increase petroleum prices by triggering a nuclear meltdown. The film’s title is actually the translation of the motto on the Bond family coat of arms, which is mentioned in Fleming’s novel On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.


Loosely Inspired by a Small Amount of Source Material

That’s as close as this film gets to drawing inspiration from the source material — although Eon Productions probably could’ve used Fleming’s stories for this one. The World Is Not Enough was criticized for its mediocre writing, predictable plot, and uneven acting, especially from Bond girl Denise Richards. Stream The World Is Not Enough on Max.

Skyfall (2012)

skyfall

Skyfall

Release Date
October 25, 2012

Director
Sam Mendes

Runtime
143

Skyfall is regarded by many as one of 007’s best films. Here, James Bond is forced to look in the mirror as he tries to thwart a plot to cripple MI6 and assassinate M (Judi Dench), orchestrated by none other than a former MI6 secret agent. Over the course of 25 films and 61 years, very little is divulged about James Bond’s origins.


Who was he before becoming a secret agent? Where did he come from? Sam Mendes’ Skyfall sheds light on Bond’s mysterious past. As it turns out, Skyfall isn’t a codename for a top-secret weapon or government operation. It’s the name of his family’s ancestral estate.

A Completely Original Idea

For the first time, we’re invited into the sprawling home where 007 grew up before his parents’ untimely demise. Skyfall is never mentioned in any of Fleming’s stories, making this an original piece of the James Bond mythology. Its villain, Silva (Javier Bardem), is one of the best James Bond villains and fits so well into 007’s rogue’s gallery that he could’ve been created by Ian Fleming himself. Stream Skyfall on Max.

Related: The Best James Bond Movies to Watch if You’ve Never Seen One Before

No Time to Die (2021)


It Has One Other Character from the Books

In No Time to Die, James Bond comes out of retirement to take on a masked and dangerous villain from his love interest’s past. No Time to Die does feature a cameo from Blofeld (Christoph Waltz), who is a character from Fleming’s books. But aside from that, it’s very much an original story. Its most original aspect, however, is being the only film to actually kill James Bond.

No Time to Die marks Daniel Craig’s last appearance as James Bond. The search for the next 007 is underway, with actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson allegedly being offered the role. Rent No Time to Dieon Amazon Prime Video.

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