Can Spectre Disprove the “James Bond is a Brainwashed Codename” Theory?

If there is one fan theory I love above all others, it’s that James Bond is a codename. I’ve written about this extensively, including my own unique take on it, which is that James Bond is a codename given to every agent who has been brainwashed into believing that:

  • his name is James Bond,
  • it has always been James Bond,
  • there are no other James Bonds before him
  • he grew up at a place called Skyfall.

My interpretation, as described thoroughly in my post “Yes, Indeed, James Bond is a Codename,” (which was then thoroughly discussed and dissected in a reddit post on the subject) takes most of its evidence from the film Skyfall, including the relationship between Judi Dench’s M and Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva. I believe it’s implied that Silva is an agent previously brainwashed into thinking himself Bond.

This guy.
This guy.

But what does all of this mean when considering the new James Bond film, Spectre?

What do we already know about Spectre?

Many people already consider Skyfall to have disproved the codename theory, arguing that the graves of the dead Bond parents and the visit to Bond’s family estate prove he can’t possibly be a guy whose nickname/codename is Bond. Plus, as people always point out, we already know James Bond’s codename: 007.

Either the gravestones of Bond's parents... or another detail in the grand brainwashing codename conspiracy. I prefer the latter interpretation.
Either the gravestones of Bond’s parents… or another detail in the grand brainwashed James Bond codename conspiracy. I prefer the latter interpretation.

This dig into Bond’s backstory appears to go deeper in Spectre, with the catalyst for the film’s action apparently involving a box of possessions from Skyfall. And the villain is none other than Christoph Waltz, who is either:

  • classic Bond villain Blofeld
  • a new character named Franz Oberhauser
  • or both.

(It’s worth noting that Waltz emphatically denies that he is Blofeld.)

Regardless of how evil Waltz is in Spectre, it's hard to believe he can be more evil or charismatic than he was as Hans Landa.
Regardless of how evil Waltz is in Spectre, it’s hard to believe he can be more evil or charismatic than he was as Hans Landa.

But, most importantly about Waltz’s character, he is certainly someone who already knows James, as we see in the teaser trailer:

And who is the other guy? To whom Bond’s face is familiar? To whom James may be bringing death? (Edit: it’s been pointed out that this man is Mr White, from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace.)

And then there is this trailer, in which we learn that James is “who links them all”

But what does this mean for the James Bond codename theory?

The real question is whether we can continue to believe that Bond is a brainwashed spy who wasn’t born as James Bond, but that he doesn’t know that.

I would say, yes. I would say, I hope so.

Consider what we hear Oberhauser telling him in the second trailer: “It was me, James. The author of all your pain.”

Did Franz Oberhauser author Bond’s pain? Or did he create Bond himself? Is he part of this brainwashing, codename-assigning conspiracy in which some of us so fervently believe?

Will it confirm the James Bond codename theory?

No. Certainly not. But it cannot disprove it either. We will continue to believe, and there will undoubtedly be a reading of the film that allows for the James Bond Codename Theory to continue to exist.

We will know soon. Spectre comes out on November 6th. As Oberhauser says in the trailer: “It’s been a long time. Now, finally, here we are.”

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