The Subversive Lesson About Genius Hidden In James Bond

Illustration for article titled The Subversive Lesson About Genius Hidden In James Bond

Truth time: Without the highly skilled tech and strategic teams he has behind him, James Bond would be just an overdressed field agent with an unnecessarily picky drink order. But, does that fictional string of geniuses reveal an important truth about how talent works?


In response to this post on villains who wanted to get caught, a discussion began about Q, the brilliant inventor and tinkerer who's responsible for the incredible gadgets that make up, essentially, one of Bond's main "superpowers". But, though the Q we usually see is, undoubtedly, a genius. In Skyfall, he was noticeably less competent than usual.

So what gives? Maybe what we're seeing is not a shift for the character, but rather a clue about how he became what he is. People who are highly skilled are not merely innately good at what they do. They are better at failing and — learning from those failures — than those who are just talented. If Q is going to become the genius that he typically is featured as, what we're seeing may merely be a necessary step on that road:


I think Q's mistake in Skyfall was intentional. He's still a rookie kid so it makes sense that he would screw up like that. It lays the groundwork for him to be smarter in the future, learning from those kinds of mistakes. Character development is always more interesting than having the character show up, already a flawless badass.

Lee Adama's Moral Center

This is entirely plausible. Given the new Q's youth, he could be at the beginning of a Judi Denchesque string of Bond films.

Also, the ongoing clash between the new and old ways of running MI6 was an important theme of that film. So, illuminating a flaw in the new way (clumsy as it may have been) fits well.


I agree with you completely on Q's mistake being an intentional directorial decision. I think the prior scene where he gets all mouthy with James Bond is part and parcel of his unwarranted pride about how good he is followed by his subsequent fall.

However, that being an intentional bit of character development only redeems Q's future as a character. It doesn't save Silva's intentional capture plan. Because he still would have made an escape plan that was entirely dependent upon Q doing something that Silva has no reason to assume he would do. It was stupid on Q's part, but not predictably stupid. If your plan relies on someone being pridefully overconfident which leads to a mistake, then it's an incredibly risky plan.


When they announced Spectre, that was one of the things I thought about. What if they wrote Q as a character that seems to have learned from his past (and fatal) mistakes? I would forgive the stuff from Skyfall in that case. But I doubt that happens.

What do you think? Tell us your thoughts on how you see the character developing in the comments.


Craig Michael Ranapia

But, though the Q we usually see is, undoubtedly, a genius. In Skyfall, he was noticeably less competent than usual.

In Skyfall everyone fucks up horribly. Q. isn't the only one who's tragically over-confident that he has a handle on the rules of the game that's actually being played. M. think she can keep doing things the way she's always done them, and bulldoze her way through everything — and no matter how much Tennyson she quotes, it's an error of judgement that gets a lot of people killed. Including herself. Eve Moneypenny, much as I love her, made the right call at the end not going back to field work because when push comes to shove she doesn't trust her instincts over the rule book. And the rule book isn't enough.

That's what I really loved about Voldemort Mallory — nobody liked him, but he's not actually wrong.