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U is for Unchangeable and Unchanging Characters

Some characters are unchangeable, unchanging, and in fact, have no business changing.

This isn’t the normal thing that is taught in writing classing and it is not the normal writing advice given. But, months after watching the Skyfall, I have become convinced of the truth of it.

I blogged about Skyfall after I saw the movie. I don’t mention it in the post, but I feel like this movie hurt Bond’s icon status.

In this movie, 1) Bond grows older and 2) also has a past, complete with parents and big house.

Someone asked me how it was and I replied: emotional. Which is damn odd for a James Bond movie.

Before this movie he was the Man of Mystery. He had no past, no future, few connections to people other than a bevy of Bond Girls in each and every movie.

The only movie he ever changed in was the one where the girl he was in love with betrayed him and broke his heart. Nothing otherwise.

Every writing class, most every piece of writing advice will say that characters need to grow. Good stories have characters that grow and change.

I feel like someone tried to do exactly that to James Bond in Skyfall and it failed.

I feel like him getting shot by friendly fire, retiring in the Caribbean, and coming back vastly off his game were attempts to give him a character arc he wouldn’t have otherwise. I also feel like he doesn’t need to have a character arc necessarily.

James Bond is an icon. No need to mess with that.

Or if they insist, they ought to have done it slower. Lots slower. The character development should have been done at a snail’s pace, over a number of movies. That might have worked. As it is, I just feel like they were trying to shoehorn a past and development and all that jazz into his character.

Also, at the end of Skyfall, he says he’s ready for the next mission at the end and its business as usual. So, yeah.

I have to reconsider if I even want to see the next James Bond (comes out next year!) in theaters. If it is like Skyfall, than maybe not.

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18 thoughts on “U is for Unchangeable and Unchanging Characters

  1. I have to agree. Bond isn’t the kind of character that “develops.” He’s there as a fantasy figure, the guy who gets all the girls (sometimes all at once), loves ’em, leaves ’em, and on to the next feat of derring-do.

  2. Hmm, really good points – one, Bond doesn’t NEED to change (we’ll love him no matter what) and two, it should have been much slower. I hadn’t realized that was what was bothering me about the movie. I’ll probably see the next one, because I’m a sucker for Bond AND Daniel Craig, though.

  3. Good point. For Bond, unchanging may be his strength. I can also see in mysteries the hero doesn’t necessarily need to grow. We come for the mystery or the crime fighting, and depend on the consistency of the hero as we experience the plot and revelations.

    I hadn’t thought much about this before. Great that you brought this up.

  4. Interesting thoughts. I haven’t yet seen Skyfall. It’s on my to-be-watched list. I have seen most of the other Bond movies, though, and I agree, I don’t want to know about his past or his life outside his job as a spy. The movies are supposed to be about the missions, and that’s what I look forward to when I watch them.

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