How the New James Bond Movie ‘Spectre’ Is Targeting Marvel Fans

Sam Mendes Daniel Craig Spectre James
Karwai Tang/WireImage

Over the past 50 years, the James Bond movies have tapped into public fears, popular culture and what’s worked at the box office.

The Cuban missile crisis inspired “Dr. No,” and the Cold War was felt throughout the earlier films in the franchise, with Russians playing many of the bad guys. “Star Wars” and the launch of the space shuttle program influenced “Moonraker.” The success of the “Bourne Identity” films encouraged producers to make the stunts and fight sequences grittier in “Casino Royale.” And Rupert Murdoch was essentially the villain in “Tomorrow Never Dies,” while Javier Bardem played a pseudo-Julian Assange in 2012’s “Skyfall.”

With next year’s “Spectre,” however, an old foe is being brought back to the series — one that will seem very familiar to fans of Marvel’s comicbooks and movies.

SPECTRE, a shadowy terrorist organization has served as the looming menace in many of the 23 Bond films to date, made its first appearance in print in author Ian Fleming’s “Thunderball,” published in 1961, and on the bigscreen in “Dr. No” in 1962.

The group, whose name stands for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, is led by Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a German genius with aspirations of world domination whose agents work in secret to gain influence and secrets.

In Marvel’s universe, there’s Hydra, a malicious group founded by the evil German Nazi, Red Skull, who has the same goal of world domination, infiltrating governments and pulling strings behind the scenes.

Since Marvel Studios started producing its own films and TV shows, Hydra has served as a heavy in “Captain America,” “The Avengers” and on ABC’s “Agents of SHIELD.”

It’s hard not to ignore the timing of the decision to re-introduce SPECTRE on the bigscreen.

“Spectre” will bow the same year that “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” is released, with the Bond film out in November, and Marvel’s Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye reuniting again in May.

The casting of Dave Bautista as henchman Mr. Hinx in “Spectre” also adds an actor who recently played tattooed beast Drax the Destroyer in Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” a film that broke out as a blockbuster and will get a sequel in 2017, after it earned $771 million.

Director Sam Mendes has yet to reveal whether Blofeld will appear in “Spectre.”

He cast Christoph Waltz to play a character named Oberhauser. In the Fleming novels, Hannes Oberhauser is the name of a father figure to Bond who mysteriously disappears in Austria. He could conceivably end up becoming the supervillain known as Blofeld, the way Naomie Harris’ spy character was eventually revealed as the new Moneypenny in “Skyfall.”

“Spectre” will be partly shot in Austria, with the plot revolving around a cryptic message from Bond’s past that sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organization. While M (Ralph Fiennes) battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind SPECTRE.

The teaser poster for the next Bond already includes a reference to the octopus-like logo for SPECTRE. It’s subtle but it’s there.

“Those of you who have some knowledge of the Bond franchise and the legend of Bond probably have some idea what that refers to, but I couldn’t possibly comment,” said Mendes of the title and organization after unveiling the “Spectre” title on the Albert R. Broccoli 007 Stage at London’s Pinewood Studios on Thursday.

It’s clear that EON had wanted to incorporate SPECTRE into the franchise before now.

In “Quantum of Solace,” Quantum is the name of the shadowy org in that film with a similar mission to SPECTRE. However, EON wasn’t able to use the name until it settled a lengthy legal tussle with Kevin McClory, which wound up giving Danjaq and MGM the full copyright rights to Blofeld and SPECTRE on Nov. 15, 2013. “Quantum” was released in 2008.

MGM and EON can’t be faulted for wanting to go back to something that worked so well for the franchise in the past — and is paying off handsomely for Marvel now.

“Skyfall” was a huge hit, generating $1.1 billion at the global box office, more than any other Bond film.

And if audiences are clamoring for more superhero films — DC has 10 scheduled through 2020, while Marvel has another 11 through 2019 — it only makes sense that MGM and EON want to remind moviegoers they have their own crimefighter in British superspy James Bond.

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  1. Bizarre reach of logic in the service of click bait. The new journalism, ladies and gentlemen.

  2. Mark Henderson says:

    As much as I hate Nazis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld was Polish and Greek descent, rather than German. His father was a Pole, his mother Greek. He was born in Germany but took Polish citizenship after the Great War.

  3. SKYFALL proved to be Eon’s biggest grossing Bond film ever. I doubt they need to try to play catch up to Marvel with the SPECTRE organization (which, as people here have pointed out, inspired the creation of HYDRA back in the 60s).

    Besides, the writer here even mentions that Eon got the rights back to SPECTRE, so obviously, why wouldn’t they use them the first chance they could? Regardless of ‘the timing’.

    Maybe the headline here was fishing for Marvel fans.

  4. Harry Kuheim says:

    We’re going to need a Bond Film about a US President who wants to start a Race War by the end of Obama’s Term.

  5. therealeverton says:

    Irony is that it was the prevalence of tropes like S.P.E.C.R.E. and the Man from U.N.C..E. that led Stan Lee & Co. to come up with S.H.I.E.L.D. in the first place.

  6. You got it wrong! Hydra , in the comics was a reaction to Spectre. Nick Fury is Marvel’s take on Bond and The Man From UNCLE.

    • Rick says:

      Scott, I believe the intention of the article was more to capitalize upon Marvel’s recent film successes with Hydra serving as the villain’s organization than to try and say which secret organization came first. The point being what is relevant to the movie going public now.

  7. Phil says:

    Might be worth mentioning that SPECTRE first appeared four years before Hydra!

    • Jacques Strappe says:

      Global secret agent themed adventures were very big in the 60’s inspiring lots of pop culture. The Marvel universe is a comic book one that existed long before Ian Flemming penned the Bond series or certainly long before he contributed concepts to the American television series, Man From UNCLE.. Both HYDRA and SHIELD are seeking alien technology; HYDRA for nefarious purposes and world domination. The Marvel world and the good vs evil conflict between SHIELD and HYDRA, respectively, carries fantasy much further than earth bound, James Bond and is arguably very different from the spy/evil scientist world of James Bond vs SPECTRE or UNCLE vs. THRUSH. The whole point of this article is saying that the recent huge popularity, or more precisely, the global domination of the Marvel films with a new audience has sparked an interest in the spy genre for a new generation that the Bond film franchise intends to capitalize on. Pop culture continually borrows from old and existing pop culture, inspiring new and different pop culture. So, I don’t believe there is any real significance mentioning what came first, SPECTRE or HYDRA

  8. MovieGeek says:

    Spoiler ahead… Monica Bellucci will be revealed to be Blofeld. Waltz would be too obvious.

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