5 Spy Movie Series That Wouldn’t Exist Without James Bond
James Bond fans have a longer than expected wait ahead until they see Daniel Craig’s final appearance as 007. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, No Time to Die — Craig’s fifth Bond film — was slated for release in April 2020. Now it will hit theaters on Nov. 25, 2020 instead.
In the meantime, fans anxious to see No Time to Die have plenty of time to catch up on other spy series. After all, the Bond series has cast a long shadow since its debut in 1962. Many other film franchises have sprung up in some way, shape, or form because of Bond’s success.
Here are five spy movie series that just wouldn’t exist without James Bond.
‘Our Man Flint’ films
Our Man Flint came out just a few years after Sean Connery began his Bond run in Dr. No. The film stars James Coburn as a superspy named Derek Flint. The movie and its sequel, In Like Flint, perfectly parody James Bond, even this soon after it launched.
By the time Our Man Flint released in 1966, Connery had already starred in four Bond films. The Derek Flint movies aren’t the only overt Bond parodies on our list. But they are among the earliest and most notable examples. It’s just too bad Coburn only returned for a single sequel.
‘Mission: Impossible’ series
The original 1996 Mission: Impossible film felt like a huge gamble. Director Brian De Palma was tasked with adapting the 1966-1973 TV into a major blockbuster three decades later. Although he succeeded, no one could have foreseen the behemoth the Mission: Impossible series has evolved into.
Arguably, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt is the modern equivalent of James Bond. Earlier entries even feature mostly new supporting casts and disconnected globe-trotting adventures, much like Bond. Director Christopher McQuarrie has since developed a more serialized Mission: Impossible.
‘Austin Powers’ trilogy
From the start, Mike Myers’ famously randy spy — and his equally popular foe, Dr. Evil — wears its James Bond influence on its sleeve. While the first film was a sleeper hit in 1997, Austin Powers became a phenomenon when it hit home video. So the sequels released to huge box office numbers.
Myers’ and director Jay Roach’s trilogy hasn’t aged well in the eyes of many fans. After all, the character’s impact was so concentrated and all-encompassing during his heyday. But every once in a while, rumors about a fourth installment bubble up. So Myers could still reprise his signature role.
‘Spy Kids’ series
With its extreme action and sexual content, the James Bond series isn’t ordinarily something geared for children. But director Robert Rodriguez found a way to draw inspiration from the character’s adventures. Rodriguez distilled his own energetic filmmaking into 2001’s Spy Kids and its sequels.
In many ways, the series — especially the second film, released just a year after its predecessor — serves as a kid-friendly Bond. Stars Alexa Vega and Daryl Sabara charmingly lead viewers through the kind of outlandish plots one might find in a Bond film, albeit with a more knowing tone.
‘Johnny English’ movies
For many fans, Rowan Atkinson will always be known for playing Mr. Bean. But in 2003, the actor created another iconic character, a bumbling James Bond parody named Johnny English. Over the years, the series has spawned two more sequels in 2011 and 2018.
In much the same way as Bond itself, the Johnny English franchise follows the titular hero on a series of separate adventures. While the series hasn’t performed too well in North America, it is a huge box office draw overseas. The Johnny English series has earned nearly $440 million overseas so far.