A Tale of Two Modern British Heroes

Once upon a time, there were two modern heroes from British literature. Both of these have been adapted for the big screen but each came from a different era and a different genre. One is a mysterious spy who came out of the Cold War, and the other is the boy who didn’t know he was is a wizard until his eleventh birthday. Both figures represent not only the UK but the entire world.
In 1953, Ian Fleming gave us a secret agent in print known as James Bond - Agent 007. The books featuring the fictional spy didn’t become popular right away except in the UK. While Fleming continued writing more books, he sought ways to adapt his creation to the screen. His first attempt was Casino Royale for television. Afterwards, he tried to take it further and write original stories for the small screen featuring his superspy but that fell through. The original stories would later be one of the Bond novels today (not until Kevin McClory came along). Both Fleming and McClory attempted to put James Bond on screen, not on TV, but in a movie (which was to be titled James Bond of the Secret Service). However, the plans fell through and the movie was cancelled. The story was later novelized as Thunderball and Fleming would find himself sued by McClory for taking all the story credit to himself. The lawsuit would last up to the late 1990s/early 2000s. While this issue continued as the 1960s approached, both producers later became legendary as they were to be first to bring James Bond to the silver screen. The first movie was Dr No, and it was highly successful, allowing Bond to become a franchise that is still active today.
Fast forward to the early 1990s - J.K. Rowling took a train back to London and, while on the train, the idea of a boy who had no idea he is a wizard came to her head. This wizard is known as Harry Potter. Knowing that she loved writing, Rowling created her first manuscript known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the US), which was published in 1997. The novel became a best seller. With sequels out in the subsequent years, the series became a total phenomenon. While Rowling wrote the sequels, David Heyman was impressed by Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and wanted to adapt it to big screen. Securing the rights from Rowling, the first Potter novel was set to become a motion picture. Rowling insisted the cast had to be completely British, to which Heyman agreed. Then in the 2001, the first Harry Potter movie released in theaters and was not only the year’s top grosser but also the second highest grossing movie of all time. Along with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Philosopher’s Stone popularized the fantasy genre. With one movie to be released in July 15, 2011, the Harry Potter saga will be complete.
There you have it: a brief history of the two franchises. Now let’s get down this question, which is your top priority?
Here’s what I have to say: Back in the day, I was once a devoted James Bond fan. I became a fan the day my dad rented Tomorrow Never Dies back in July of 1998. I remember how unique and foreign the movie was. I remember being surprised to see the trailer for The World Is Not Enough (which I thought was Tomorrow Never Dies 2). I remember how I couldn’t wait to see the next Bond movie after The World Is Not Enough ended with “James Bond Will Return”. I remember enjoying watching a weekly marathon featuring the old school Bonds - starting with Dr No. I was very excited to see Die Another Day in theaters. Those were the days. Now to Harry Potter. Before the first movie, I remember seeing how popular Harry Potter was, and some of my friends were reading the books. In 2001, I became very surprised to see trailer of the first Potter movie. At first, I thought it was unfilmable, but when I saw it in theaters, I really enjoyed it. I didn’t become a total fan right away but I grew to love the series later on.
Which franchise do I like best now? Back when Pierce Brosnan was James Bond, my loyalty was with the franchise that started in 1962. I supported Harry Potter too, but Bond was my top priority. I remember in November of 2002 when my dad asked me if I wanted to see the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and I responded by saying that I wanted to see Die Another Day. Not only was Bond the traditional franchise, but I was a Pierce Brosnan loyalist as Pierce is my favorite actor. So there’s your answer. I liked Bond best but that was when Brosnan was Bond. Pierce, as we know, was the most popular James Bond since Sean Connery. Because of this, he deserved to be stay a little longer as Bond after DAD. When the news said about him getting axed from Bond, I knew I would find it hard to stay as interested as I was. This became official in late 2004. Even though he was axed, there were still hopes of him donning the tux for fifth time, but, unfortunately, he was replaced by Daniel Craig in 2005. That’s where I officially stopped being fan of Bond and stopped all the support I gave to the franchise altogether. It’s not just because Pierce was the best and most popular since Sean. More than that, he wasn’t given the right stuff he needed while he was Bond.
There’s an old saying that there’s always an alternative, meaning there’s other great movies out there that serve as an alternate to Bond (or should I say Desecrated Bond?). For me there was Happy Feet (released on the US date of November 17, 2006 - the same day as Casino Royale). And this was where I started to give my full support to other big movies and franchises, which include Harry Potter. This summer on July the 15th comes the finale of the adventures featuring the wizard chosen to defeat Voldemort. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is coming to theaters and IMAX. Of course, there are plenty of other blockbusters that will serve as the alternative to Bond, such as The Dark Knight Rises, but for now, it’s all about Mr. Potter this year. Have your wands ready. Pull your wallets and buy the ticket. It’s doesn’t matter if you’re a fan or not. It’s a must see film.
When Pierce was Bond, I was a devoted Bond fan and - being a Bond fan - Harry Potter was like my enemy as it challenged Bond’s audience popularity. But now I am not a fan anymore thanks to Brosnan's treatment and Craig as Bond. I have switched my alliance to the boy wizard. If there’s a true British hero to cheer for it’s Harry Potter. James Bond is dead. And get ready for July 15th, 2011 because it all ends here. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will be the true escapism - unlike Craig’s Bond films are or will ever be. And when Potter’s done his job, other heroes and figures will rise up to present an alternative to Craig as Bond.

- Dan


c 2011 Alternative 007