Michael Fassbender: A Bond To Be?

I vividly recall seeing Quentin Tarantino’s Nazi-revenge film Inglourious Basterds in theatres, and how a strange thought occurred to me during the long and memorable “tavern” scene wherein British Secret Agent Lt. Archie Hicox (played by the increasingly popular Michael Fassbender) goes undercover as a German soldier with a few of the Basterds in a high-stakes covert operation that goes badly wrong.  I remember saying to myself (concerning Hicox’s character): “This guy is Tarantino’s take on James Bond”.

Fassbender's British Special Agent Hicox working undercover in a Bond-esque sequence

Everything about Fassbender’s character perfectly reflected the character of James Bond as depicted in Ian Fleming’s novels, from his suave attitude and coolness under pressure to his appreciation of fine scotch, which can be seen once his cover is finally blown and Hicox reverts to his native British accent to state: “There’s a special rung in hell reserved for people who waste good scotch. Seeing as how I may be rapping on the door momentarily…”.  This moment screams of Fleming’s Bond, and it occurred to me that Hicox was simply a war-era take on the character whose mission doesn’t go so well.  We’ve seen Agent 007 in a million tight situations, but we have never seen him fail to escape with his life, and that is precisely what Tarantino decided to give us in that scene, both as a means of toying with our expectations and paying homage to one of cinema’s greatest characters.  After reviewing that entire sequence a few more times, as well as the earlier establishing scene wherein Hicox receives his orders from Mike Myers’ General Ed Fenech (who is seemingly a parody of Bond’s boss “M”), it seems painfully obvious that this was Tarantino’s intention.  The similarities are just too strong to be coincidental.  Even his name (Hicox) is a pun on Bond’s reputation for promiscuity as a lover and his inflated sense of masculinity.

Fassbender's Cold War era Magneto resembles Agent 007 on more than one occasion

Now, nearly two years later, Fassbender has returned to the spotlight to star as a Cold War era Magneto/Erik Lehnsherr in Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class – a superhero flick that plays at times like a revenge-spy thriller, with Lehnsherr working towards finding the man responsible for the atrocities that shaped his life as a Jewish prisoner in a German concentration camp in WWII.  Not only is Fassbender the strongest and most assured character in that film, but several of his early scenes (before he becomes associated with Charles Xavier and the future X-Men) reflect several elements of the Bond franchise as well.  One scene in particular has him sneaking aboard a ship in the middle of the ocean wearing a very Bond-esque wetsuit and looking like a reincarnation of a ’60s-era Sean Connery in Thunderball.

Director Vaughn has even been quoted as having compared his film to spy films like the Bond movies, and has alluded to the fact that he sees Fassbender as a viable option to play Bond (if Craig departs from the role after the upcoming and still untitled Bond 23).  These comments can be seen at the following two (very similar) sources: [Screenrant.com] and [Turbo-Exp.com] both of which I found when researching images of Fassbender for this article.

Artistic rendition of Fleming's Bond character looks shockingly similar to Fassbender

Initially, I didn’t realize so many other people have come to make the Bond-Fassbender connection that I made back in 2009 at my screening of Basterds, but I suppose the German-born UK-dwelling actor shares so many strong characteristics with cinema’s favourite secret agent that it would be difficult to ignore.  Personally, I am a big fan of Daniel Craig’s modern take on Agent 007, and want nothing more than for him to have more time with the character. Still, I can’t help but notice how perfectly Fassbender resembles the Bond from Fleming’s novels, not only in physical appearance but also in his composure and assured talents as an actor. And with all the internet buzz about how perfect Fassbender would be as a potential replacement for Craig in the years to come, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him gaining even more buzz over the next few years as Hollywood’s most promising Bond to-be.  If he’s this good at dealing with Nazis, I’m sure he could handle the jumpsuit-wearing goons working for Spectre.  Oh, excuse me, I meant to say Quantum…


~ by Mark D'Amico on June 6, 2011.

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