I say hey, what’s going on?! Well, we’re listing the four most historically relevant 007 knockoffs, ripoffs, and other unauthorized entries in the James Bond canon.
Spectre, the 24th official James Bond film to release since 1962, marks a major shift in the venerable 007 movie franchise. It’s potentially Daniel Craig’s final film as the famous spy, while MGM’s continued financial woes make new 007 movies a complex affair. Still, even with some of the James Bond cinematic universe in flux, it’s nice to know you can count on a few things nowadays; womanizing, eccentric villains, and a brand that isn’t diluted with outside projects and cheap knockoffs.
That wasn’t the case back in the day where looser copyright laws and a less-connected world allowed for some unnofficial branches of the Bond family tree to sprout. We’ve collected four such under-the-radar spy adventures that may not be recognized in a box set, but have a spot in our heart nonetheless.
James Bond Jr… in “James Bond Jr.”
James Bond Jr may have been made with the permission of MGM, but everything else surrounding the iconic spy’s relative smacked of second-rate treatment. Right from the start, JBJ’s existence was halfhearted as his official debut in the novel “The Adventures of James Bond Junior 003½” was written by an author using a pseudonym who has never been revealed to the public. The novel (and ensuing comic book, cartoon show, and video games) was also disingenuous to the character’s name, making James Bond Jr the nephew of the film franchise’s star despite naming convention suggesting the younger spy would be his son.
The cartoon (where most folks know of JBJ) was fine Saturday morning fare but just a bit too goofy to fit in with the biggest spy series in cinema history. Oddjob went from being an Asian stereotype in a bowler hat to a Run-DMC castoff with a tophat, and Dr. No went from a subdued scientist to a green-skinned cybernetically enhanced weaboo.
Some characters had kids to better act as BoJu’s counterparts, leading to allies like I.Q. and enemies like Goldie Finger. Oh, and the Bond girls went from having saucy sex-themed names to lame dad-pun monikers like Wendy Day, Hayley Comet, and Marcie Beaucoup. At least the show’s theme song was neat!
Sir James Bond in… “Casino Royale”
Before it was the launching point for Daniel Craig’s Bond career, Casino Royale was the title a more comedic take on 007 starring David Niven (best known for playing the jewel-thieving villain of The Pink Panther) as a retired Sir James Bond who’s called back into duty when other agents go missing. Presented in a segment-based style where multiple directors (six in total) show six other agents pretending to be Bond (played by the likes of Peter Sellers and Woody Allen), it’s unlike any other Bond film and is goofier than the standard series ever was.
How did this happen? Well, Ian Fleming had sold the rights to Casino Royale (his first novel) a year before he sold the rest of his work to Eon Productions and after producer Charles Feldman failed to negotiate proper terms with Eon, he decided to take Bond in a different direction and release it two months before the fifth standard Bond film (You Only Live Twice). The distribution rights for Casino Royale were eventually picked up by MGM, so this Bond finally has a… er… Bond with the rest of the film franchise.
A former Bond and his sibling both take their part in unofficial Bond exploits on the next page!