It’s never easy when a James Bond actor decides to bow out and give up the mantle, or rather the suit and the Walther PPK, to another thespian. No Time to Die marked Daniel Craig’s final performance as the legendary 007, though the manner in which he retired has since been a subject of much debate and controversy among fans.
As you’ll already know, the closing moments of the film involved an injured Bond making his way out of Safin’s base. The sinister villain, portrayed by Rami Malek, ambushes our hero and injects him with Heracles, a bioweapon that’s bonded to the DNA of a target, making it lethal for their relatives to make contact with them. Realizing that he can’t live with Madeleine and his daughter, Bond climbs the bunker and surrenders to his death as ballistic missiles bombard the complex.
In more ways than one, No Time to Die served as the ultimate swansong to Craig’s version of the suave secret agent, which is why it becomes crystal clear upon a rewatch that the writers were planning to kill off the protagonist from the get-go. Though apparently, the manner of that death was up to debate, and a number of alternatives were seriously discussed.
In a new interview with Variety, director Cary Joji Fukunaga details some of the alternate ways No Time to Die‘s ending could’ve panned out. In the filmmaker’s own words:
“How he meets his end wasn’t decided yet. It was just the fact that he would, so the question then became how to do it. There were many iterations. A bullet, like an anonymous bullet, I remember that one. But it just seemed like a conventional weapons death didn’t seem appropriate. Given how much he had been able to escape from everything else, the fact that it would just be a bullet that always had your name on it from the beginning, as a sort of the thematic element seemed, while realistic, for Bond it had to be something even beyond that — like the impossible, impossible situation.”
The filmmakers ultimately decided to send James Bond out in a poetic way, rather than an intimate scenario involving an individual or a bullet, which in hindsight, actually serves the emotional weight of the sequence in a much more profound way.