It’s still way too early to tell who will step into Daniel Craig’s suave shoes to shoulder the burden of living the life of the most kitted-out, debonair agent in the SIS. But if you leave the decision up to Americans, it’ll likely be someone who mostly resembles the long line of men who’ve made James Bond a household name over the past half century.
A Hollywood Reporter/Morning Consult survey of more than 2,000 Americans found a slight majority supports the idea of a black Agent 007, which gained fresh legs recently when Idris Elba and the internet carried on a brief flirtation over reimagining Ian Fleming’s iconic spy.
Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said they could totally get behind a black Bond actor in general, with the number shooting up to 63 percent when asked about Elba in the role specifically.
As you can see from the graphic above, by a wide margin, the possibility of shifting the role over to a black actor is the only substantial Bond franchise change that Americans, on the whole, appear to be ready for. Asked about other changes that would recast 007 to reflect diverse pieces of the social demographic pie, respondents got conservative — though it’s not known how much of that conservatism is a reflection of social views, or, like current Bond producer Barbara Broccoli, of loyalty to a familiar character aesthetic that fans don’t want to see tweaked.
While a gay Bond is the only scenario opposed by a majority (52 percent against), other scenarios — like a Hispanic, Asian, or female Bond — receive equal or greater opposition than leaving 007 just as he is.
Perhaps a clue to the respondents’ overall conservatism can be found in the responses to the survey’s killer fanboy question: Which actors in Bond franchise history do you like best?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the old school carried the day, with original Agent 007 Sean Connery getting a favorable reaction from 82 percent of those surveyed. Perhaps surprisingly, Pierce Brosnan came in just behind Connery at 81 percent, while Craig, who’s saying farewell to the franchise after his next Bond film, came in fourth in the field, with a still-strong 71 percent. But who knew (okay, we all knew) that only 31 percent would view George Lazenby’s brief, one-movie stint as 007 through rose-colored martini glasses?
The survey contains plenty of other interesting Bond tidbits, including the revelation that only 32 percent strongly like the idea of an American 007. If you want to see how your opinions compare, stealth on over to the survey’s landing page for your own high-level reconnaissance mission.