Watching the trailer for the new Bond film, Quantum of Solace, has inspired another research topic. I believe this one would fall under the study of paratext.
I read an article on the UK site Times Online in which the author, Jeff Dawson, meets with Marc Forster, Bond’s latest director. Dawson alludes to the idea that a Bond film can never exist entirely in its own right, but rather is always seen in reference to its predecessors:
“The avowals of “grittiness” that greeted Daniel Craig are interchangeable with the “Bond for a modern era” banners that welcomed Pierce Brosnan — until he went out in a fug of Cossack hairspray, smug one-liners, and an invisible car… ‘Why?’ does not figure with Bond. It’s simply ‘How does the new film compare with the last?'”
It is an interesting question and somewhat unique, as the Bond franchise essentially exists as a sub-genre in and of itself. Therefore, one could potentially use the Bond franchise to chart a narrative of its narratives. That is, how the character is portrayed over the decades, why the filmmakers “restarted” the Bond story with Casino Royale, etc.
The broader question that could be asked then, is how narrative functions within the constraints of a franchise. This franchise does not necessarily have to be Bond, but I can’t think of another one that is so extensive or with such a long history.
This is definitely a broad concept that could be explored in a number of directions, but I think the long tenure of the Bond franchise could be a useful framework with which to explore some of the above concepts.