Daniel Craig's appointment as the new 007 in October 2005 was met with much hesitancy. Until then, all other actors to play the character were of a very similar profile; white, slim with dark brown hair. However, Craig challenged this model, having blonde hair and being considerably more stocky than previous iterations of the character.
Daniel Craig quickly proved doubters wrong when his debut outing as Bond proved to be one of the greatest entries in the franchise. Casino Royale blew fans away with a more rough-and-ready, loose canon, style of character. The film drew from the Jason Bourne franchise, where large action set-pieces and cold-blooded kills were interwoven with a deep and meaningful storyline and intriguing character development.
This style of film was continued, with 2008's Quantum of Solace attempting to duplicate the spectacle of Craig's first appearance, whilst also dealing with the fallout of the origin-focussed movie's storyline. However, a change of director and a lack of gaps between the action resulted in a less successful release. The second entry into Craig's 007 timeline earned $589.6 million at the box office, in comparison to Casino Royale's $616.5 million.
A change of tack followed, with 2012's Skyfall marking the franchise's 50th anniversary. As such, the Sam Mendes-directed entry drew from Bond movies of the past as a homage to the franchise's origins. From the Aston Martin DB5 first seen in Goldfinger, to the return of Q and his trademark gadgets, Skyfallwas a return to the old days of Bond and it's box office results show its success.
Proving more powerful than the Golden Gun, nostalgia worked for Mendes who's film hit $1.2 billion, earning the director another shot at the franchise. The result of this, 2015's release Spectre, proved that although nostalgia may work once it, unlike Bond, does not live twice. Despite a greater box office result than Craig's first two outings, Spectre failed to match the success of Skyfall, even with a larger budget to begin with.
Daniel Craig's next depiction of Ian Fleming's famous spy is also set to be his last, with Cary Fukunaga's No Time to Die set for release later this year. Now would seem the time for a return to the grittier, darker style that made Daniel Craig a success in Casino Royale. This alternative approach is what made Craig different from his predecessors, and to go full-circle for his final outing would be an effective way to sign off.
However, despite the undoubted success of Skyfall, Mendes' shadow looms large over the franchise, with some events that cannot be undone. The reintroduction of Q's gadgets, the ever-returning DB5 and Bond's new girlfriend Madeleine Swann will be factors hard to ignore in No Time To Die.This could mean that a return to the grittier, Bourne-like style that fans loved so much about Daniel Craig's Bond may have to wait until a new actor is cast in the role.
One much-touted replacement for Craig is Inception, Peaky Blinders and Venom star Tom Hardy, who would certainly fit the bill. His depiction of Bane in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises shows a more physical element to his acting, while his roles in Inceptionand This Means War very much compare to the character of 007. Hardy is an actor who would allow for a return to the Casino Royale style that fans crave, a style that seemingly cannot be recreated whilst Craig still portrays the character.