5 Things You Need to Know Before Seeing SPECTRE


Note: plot spoilers for previous Bond films ahead.


  1. What is SPECTRE?

The namesake of the upcoming film, SPECTRE is an international terrorist organization in the James Bond universe. It stands for SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion. Yeah, it doesn’t really work as an acronym, but Fleming tried. In the books and the films, SPECTRE is involved in worldwide acts of crime, and is led by white cat-petting megalomaniac Ernst Stavro Blofeld.


Given the name of the film, and the title card logo with the broken glass cracking into the SPECTRE logo, the assumption can be made that at least some of the villains in this new film will be involved in SPECTRE. Christoph Waltz has stated in a GQ interview that he is not Blofeld in any form. This is likely true, and his official credit is Franz Oberhauser. However, his line in the trailer that he has been “the author of all [Bond’s] pain” suggests that perhaps SPECTRE has been the true organization behind the villainy of Craig’s first two Bond films. The name of the organization in these films is Quantum, but one theory is that Quantum is actually SPECTRE.


Long story short: we’re not likely to see Blofeld in Spectre, unless you want to call Waltz a liar and assume his credited character name is a ruse. But, there will certainly be more Bond films. Perhaps Blofeld is in the franchise’s future, for better or for worse.


2. Who is Mr. White?

Mr. White appears in the Spectre trailers. He is the disheveled man with weirdly black eyes. In the trailer, Bond meets with the man somewhere, telling him that he was at a meeting and Mr. White’s name came up. Bond places a ring with the SPECTRE logo on the table for White to see, and White says that Bond is a “kite dancing in a hurricane.”


The assumption, I think, is that the meeting Bond is referring to is the meeting with Christoph Waltz that also appears in the trailer, which could quite possibly be a meeting of SPECTRE personnel. If this is the case, then Mr. White has some connection to SPECTRE.


So, who is Mr. White? In the previous Craig Bond films, White is a high up leader in the criminal organization Quantum. He is the man who is responsible indirectly for the death of Bond’s love interest Vesper Lynd and directly for the death of Le Chiffre at the end of Casino Royale, a move that is for the sake of upholding the reputation of Quantum. He also makes a brief appearance in Quantum of Solace, as he is captured by Bond at the end of the previous film.


The scene in the trailer, then, alludes to a connection between Quantum and SPECTRE. What does this mean? Is it the previously stated theory that Quantum and SPECTRE are one in the same? Or is it that the criminal organizations are on good terms? Or is it that SPECTRE is executing (or has already executed) the downfall of Quantum? In the trailer, Mr. White does not look like a criminal mastermind. He looks like he’s been taken down a peg.


3. What’s the state of MI6?

The trailers for Spectre depict a building with a blown out center. This is the MI6 headquarters. Silva (Javier Bardem) bombed the building during the events of Skyfall. Considering it is still bombed out, the assumption can be made that Spectre is taking place soon after the end of Skyfall. Whether MI6 has moved back into the destroyed building is up for debate.


Following M’s death at the end of Skyfall, the position was taken up by Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), who we see angry at Bond for his actions in Spain in the trailer for Spectre (which also means that the scene in Spain that we see glimpses of in the trailer is likely the cold open for the movie). We also get glimpses of Eve Moneypenny (Naomi Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw), so we know that all three have some role in the film.


4. Where do the Daniel Craig Bond films fit in?

The timeline of the James Bond filmography is impossible. It simply doesn’t make sense. Some have the theory that each actor who plays 007 is simply a new agent filling the position. This explains the impossibility of the man’s age. However, this can’t possibly be the case. The proof is in Tracy Bond (Diana Rigg), Bond’s short-lived bride. Bond’s wife was gunned down at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service by Blofeld. This Bond was portrayed by George Lazenby. Yet, the next film depicts Sean Connery’s Bond hunting Blofeld down to exact revenge. And Tracy has been brought up in other Bond incarnations as well.


So, the timeline is fixed around one man, not an agent who changes throughout the decades. Obviously, this man could not exist in this ageless way. But here’s the rub: Daniel Craig’s Bond is an origin story. Casino Royale depicts Bond securing his 00-status and undergoing his first mission with the title 007.


What’s the point, you ask. Well, SPECTRE will play a part in this movie in one way or another. Considering where Craig fits into the Bond timeline, this means that his Bond has never encountered the organization before. They certainly haven’t killed his wife yet. It’s something to keep in mind, and something that could screw up the timeline even more.


5. And what about Bond, James Bond?

Let’s take a moment to assess the state of Bond. Skyfall had a theme about the effects of time and aging. Bond, in this film, is worn down. He is a drunk (more than usual) and physically unfit for duty. He’s growing old, it seems, despite the fact that these are early James Bond stories timeline-wise.


By the end of Skyfall, it seems that Bond has restored his footing, almost miraculously. But maybe his shape will be addressed again in Spectre. There certainly is a lot of quibbling between Bond and Q in Skyfall that revolves around aging and changing times. Maybe we’ll get more of that in this new installment.


As always, thanks for reading!


—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)

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