Ever since his debut movie Casino Royale rebooted the franchise, Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond has occupied its own continuity separate from the one inhabited by the five previous 007s before him. At least, that’s mostly the case. The rules were always slightly fuzzy due to Judi Dench reprising her role as M from the Pierce Brosnan era. Now, No Time To Die confuses matters further by indicating that the Timothy Dalton films are part of its canon, too.
The 25th entry in the series unsurprisingly features a range of references to Bond history. Some of these are obvious – the use of “All The Time in the World” from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in the score – while others are harder to spot. For instance, in the corridors of MI6 headquarters at Whitehall we see a couple of portraits of former Ms. Dench’s Olivia Mansfield is prominently featured in one shot, but if you pay attention another can be glimpsed on the adjoining wall – depicting Robert Brown’s M.
Brown was the second M in official canon, taking over from the original, Bernard Lee, following his death. The actor starred as Bond’s boss in Roger Moore’s final two films, Octopussy and A View to a Kill and both of Dalton’s, The Living Daylights and License to Kill. This heavily suggests that both Moore and Dalton’s eras remain part of continuity. However, while Moore’s hold on canon is sketchy, NTTD backs up Dalton’s position elsewhere in its runtime.
Once he returns to London, Bond retrieves a very familiar car from storage – the Aston Martin V8 Vantage, as driven by Dalton in The Living Daylights. With Sean Connery’s Aston Martin DB5 featuring heavily throughout Craig’s era – including in No Time itself – that leaves every Bond possibly still canon. Excepting George Lazenby, that is, who – as mentioned above – at least gets honored through the inclusion of the song from his sole movie in the role.
Basically, James Bond canon is just as brilliantly convoluted as ever, despite the Craig era’s attempts to smooth it out. It’ll be interesting to see how producers handle continuity when the next 007 comes in, whoever they may be. For now, catch No Time to Die in theaters around the globe.