From Connery and Craig to Michael Scott and Cookie Monster: Who's the best 007?

Bond is a name we all know. James Bond. We have to wonder, however, what does "007" mean in 2021?
It can be overwhelming to think about Craig's influence and the impressions that Bonds made on him, as well as the lavish No Time To Die send off of Daniel Craig's portrayal of the MI6 agent. There's the age-old question of who was the most handsome spy actor: Craig, Connery or Moore?

The question of "best Bond?" is the most interesting. We are now more than 68 years old and how we define "best Bond" is not only about the character's narrative, but also the influence the franchise has on movie-goers from all generations. What is the role of 007 in shaping our world, and more importantly, for good or ill?

We were excited about the prospect of a new Bond casting soon so we decided to exchange intelligence on our favourite Bonds.

George Lazenby portrays James Bond (On Her Majesty's Secret Service).

"This never happened for the other guy." Credit: United Artist/Getty Images

If George Lazenby is the best Bond, then On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the best Bond movie. This was Lazenby’s only Bond film.

Let's recap: It has a main theme which slaps mightily, and perhaps the best decades-later version of that theme. It has wall-to-wall mod culture fashion sense from the 1960s and trippy visuals. Telly Savalas Kojak! Blofeld is the villainous Bond nemesis and his look in the movie inspired Austin Powers' nemesis Dr. Evil. Multiple gunfights can also take place on skis. One example is when Bond, Lazenby's son, accidentally creates snowboarding after a ski he has been shot with and it is thrown away.

This Bond is full of misogyny. Lazenby repeatedly hits a woman, who admittedly has a gun pointed towards him. This is part of an interrogation which quickly turns into foreplay. Later, he slept with two women at once, each under false pretenses. It's not great! He also indirectly pays for his transgressions by ending up with one of the most gut-punch Bond endings. He falls for the woman he had slapped earlier, and he goes on to live his happy ending in post-MI6. Blofeld, a revengeful man, finds them and arranges a surprise drive-by leaving Bond a widower. It is still problematic in some ways, but it remains one the most wild Bond endings. Adam Rosenberg, Senior Entertainment Reporter

Timothy Dalton portrays James Bond (Living Daylights through Licence to Kill).

"You prepare for the unexpected in your business." Credit: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Image

After 12 years of Roger Moore nearly winking at the camera, it was a difficult task to assume the role of Bond. However, Daltons' freshness allowed Pierce Brosnan (and Daniel Craig) to bring Bond back to a darker perspective. This was due to years of service to MI6 and the fact that the license to kill became a little more heavy.

Dalton only plays Bond in two films, The Living Daylights, and License to Kill. He is his best self when hes being a cool spy, whether that means yelling "Weve nothing to declare to the Austrian border guard" while tobogganing across the Austrian border with a cello case or getting his license to murder revoked. Although parachuting into Felix Leiter's wedding in License to Kill was a great BFF moment it is not the best.

Dalton, unfortunately, is just as romantically shallow as Bond. He also seems really uncomfortable when trying to smooth the carnival sequence in The Living Daylights. Shannon Connellan, UK Editor

Pierce Brosnan portrays James Bond (Goldeneye thru Die Another Day).

"One rises up to meet a challenge." Credit: Keith Hamshere/Getty Images

Millennials and possibly Xennials think of Pierce Brosnan as Bond when they think about this iconic piece of IP. This is not because of the millions spent on GoldenEye 007 for Nintendo 64. Brosnan is elegantly handsome and even beautiful in a way that no of his older counterparts have ever achieved (with apologies for my fellow Australian George Lazenby and his chin dimple). When people under 50 think about what qualities are required to wear Bond's dress brogues they will most likely picture Reg-Jean Page or Idris Elba in Brosnan’s sleek, arching pose, and not Daniel Craig's gruffness.

From 1995's Goldeneye to2002's Die Another Day, his four-film run crystallizes the franchise's MO. It is a delicious stew made of high-octane cheddar, set pieces and impossible gadgets. The women are stunning and capable with names that hark back at the worst of the vintage era, from Famke Janssen’s killer-quads queen Xenia onatopp to Denise Richards’ Dr. Christmas Jones.

Brosnan, even if it was late, single-handedly pulled the Bond brand from the stagnant Cold War conflicts that had fueled it since the 60s. He did this with an elegant, self-effacing style that never constrained his smiley, efficient shoot-em up style. For God's sake, the man fenced with Madonna and performed a handbrake turn inside a tank. His last Bond, before the Dark And Gritty Reboot, was the perfect blend of modern and classic. His shadow still hangs over what's next. Caitlin Welsh Australia Editor

Daniel Craig plays James Bond in Casino Royale through No Time To Die

A gun and a radio. Not exactly Christmas, is it? Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Eon Productions

I have never been able to identify with James Bond or wanted to be like him. Daniel Craig, on the other side, offered us a more relatable and action-oriented Bond. Realistically, I believe I could be closer. Someone who is less snobby, polished and refined; someone with whom I might cross paths.

My opinion is that Craig films are also like Casino Royale, Spectre and others. They are visually and thematically darker. Daniel Craig brings James Bond the Heath Ledger and Joker's Heath Ledger. Craig was the first time I saw him in the role. This guy is awesome.

Daniel Craig is the best when it comes to realistic, aggressive action sequences. But we owe major props the movie magicians who made him look so great. He's definitely more badass that the old, snobby Bonds. Matt Orsini, PR Manager

Lashana Lynch, "The New007", aka Nomi ("No Time To Die")

"It's just a number." Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Eon Productions

James Bond was a man who exaggerated historically. Excessive amounts of suits, martinis, bullets, etc. It's not surprising that 007 is often in desperate straits when it comes to resources. The number 007 is never short of time.

You'll notice that you have less chance of winning if you start any last act in any Bond movie. What's more? Bond only has one chance to make things right. Lashana Lynch, "the new 007", Nomi, is brought to life under such extreme circumstances. Even though she doesn't share the Bond name, Lynch is an incredibly effective character that exudes Bond's elegant staying power. Lynch gets very little screen time and there is no guarantee of a sequel, but she delivers tight combat and charismatic performances that will make Lynch a great choice for a spin-off series. Lynch rules the show, non-stop.

This is not just a great performance. Nomi opens the door for other actors, who aren’t white cis men to try their hand at the 007 role. Lynch, the first Black woman to be named 007 has made progressive strides in a franchise that was plagued by old-world views and problematic issues. We hope MGM will give Lynch the starring role of 007 she deserves. Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter

Cookie Monster is Sesame Street’s "Double-Stuffed 7".

Sean Connery was able to fend off the airborne chickens? No. No. No. Did Daniel Craig's passion for cookies fuel his theatrical ambitions? It's hard to say. All of this can only be answered by James Bond. Monster is the Bond. Cookie Monster.

Journalistically, it is important to confess that I have only seen one James Bond movie. Quantum of Solace was rented from a Redbox in Pittsburgh. I fell asleep the last 30 minutes. But I know Muppets. When I get the chance to claim a Muppet for the best thing, I'm THERE.

While The Spy Who Loved Cookies may not be technically Bond-canon, Cookie Monster as Double Stuffed Seven definitely deserves consideration for the title of best suave secret agent. He is able to show his blue fur in a tux and learns valuable lessons about following directions. Quantum of Solace was 74 minutes long and I learned one thing. It's that there would have been more puns.

(Please don't yell at the internet for this take. All Muppets should have their own feature films. You cowards, give me Oscar the Grouch as an Avenger now. Annie Colbert, Executive Editor

Saturday Night Live's Party Bond: Daniel Craig

Although Daniel Craig brings a lot to James Bond's role, Saturday Night Live is where his true brilliance shines. His normally hardened exterior suddenly gives way to joy when he wins at the Las Vegas craps table. Everyone in the room is now rooting for 007. This is much to the dismay of the agent who tries to talk to him.

Although it is only a three minute sketch, there's something so thrilling about Bond having some fun and letting loose. Craig is fully committed to the part, performing showboating acts for the casino crowds, before declaring himself Simba King of the Jungle!, and singing "Circle of Life!" Craig even gives up his traditional martini (shaken but not stirred), to enjoy a pint of vodka and Red Bull.

Although it's a bizarre subversion of Bond tropes Craig doesn't lose sight of his character. This parody of Bond is hilarious. Craig deserves major credit for not being afraid of taking on one of his most important roles and soaring to the top. Belen Edwards, Entertainment Writer

The Office's Michael Scott is Threat Level Midnight's Michael Scarn

In all my 28 years of existence, have I ever seen one James Bond film? It's not something I believe. To be completely honest, I don't feel the need. Why? Because I know I have seen the greatest Bond: Steve Carell playing Michael Scott in Threat Level Midnight. While I'm certain that Sean Connery's Bond and Daniel Craig's recent revival were both great, The Office's portrayal of James Bond is simply superior. Because Michael Scott has Bond in him, there's no doubt about it. He once joked that he was Bond-fire when he said it. James Bond-fire! This is the man who was meant to be Bond.

Scott blessed us with Threat Level Midnight, a unique action movie that took more than a decade to create, cast and edit. But his performance as Agent Scarn, a Bond-like character, was full of personality and heart. It is also worth noting Scarn has his very own song and dance. He was also crucially sampled in a Billie Eilish song BEFORE Scarn wrote and recorded No Time To Die. His influence. He was a legendary agent. Nicole Gallucci, Senior Editor

Saturday Night Live: Sean Connery impression by Darrell Hammond

Technically, he isn't playing James Bond. But, bear with me for a moment. Darrell Hammond portrays Sean Connery in this Saturday Night Live sketch. He is a contestant on Celebrity Jeopardy. Connery will forever be the quintessential Bond. Hammond is Connery, but Hammond is Bond.

That's sorta the point. Hammonds impression depicts Connery as having the same traits that made Bond famous, but exaggerated to be a crude pottymouth who peaked after he quit the franchise. He is now in his comfort zone at blackjack, seducing (read coercing) a woman fatale.

Hammonds Connery behaves as if he has had too many martinis, shaken-not stirred. He makes inappropriate jokes about his mother sleeping with Alex Trebeks (played in Will Ferrell). He misunderstands Jeopardy categories as sexual references, saying anal bum cover rather than an album cover. He is trying to relive his glory days as a drunk uncle vibe. Maybe that's Bond today. This is arguably the most accurate representation of 007. Bond is in many ways a character from an earlier era. It might be too much to ask him to keep up with the times. Cecily Mauran Tech Writer