Put your Leiters up, folks, because the next time James Bond swaggers his way onto the big screen in the untitled Bond 25, he'll have another iconic spy at his side.
Britain's MI6 and America's CIA might do more or less the same thing (in movies, assassinate psychotic supervillains; in real life, listen in on phone calls and file paperwork), but spy cinema has a long history of telling us that the English and their counterparts from across the Atlantic play the spy game very, very differently.
That reluctant, uneasy relationship between the two agencies has always been particularly evident in the dynamic between MI6 agent #JamesBond, high-functioning alcoholic and spy extraordinaire, and CIA operative Felix Leiter, a man who pops up now and then in a casino or at a restaurant looking horribly worried about the fact that 007 seems to have both the fate of the world and a martini in his hands.
Now, a major new hint dropped by actor Jeffrey Wright (Westworld's Arnold) suggests that he'll be reprising his role as Leiter in the next Bond movie...
Who The Hell IS Felix Leiter?
In case you've forgotten, or you just don't really pay attention to the talky bits in Bond films, this incarnation of Felix Leiter was first seen in Casino Royale, sent by the CIA to Montenegro to masquerade as another player at the table during Bond's marathon poker game. He appeared again in Quantum of Solace, when he prevented Bond from being assassinated by the CIA themselves for reasons absolutely nobody knows.
But while a third appearance would make Jeffrey Wright the first actor to play Leiter more than twice, the character actually has a history in the Bond franchise almost as long as 007 himself.
Played by Jack Lord in the very first Bond film, 1962's Dr. No, Leiter has had seven faces and has appeared a total of nine times so far. Arguably his best incarnation was when David Hedison played the role in Live And Let Die with an air of cool. Before that, most of the Leiters had been stuffy old men you couldn't really imagine enjoying a vodka with James Bond.
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Since January 2017, Leiter has also headlined his own comic book, in which he looks a bit like DC's John Constantine and basically jets across the world doing all the exciting spy shit usually reserved for 007 (available for Kindle on Amazon). Despite his presence in the Bond universe, though, we still don't actually know much about Leiter at all, so #Bond25 is an excellent opportunity to fill out his back story a little. What's his drink of choice? Is he a womanizer, or is he gay? Does he also have a ridiculous way of introducing himself to strangers?
If you're really only a casual Bond fan who doesn't do crazy things like marathon through all 24 movies in the series once every couple of years, the news of Leiter's return might not license-to-thrill you quite like it does me — but with the return of Moneypenny, Q and Blofeld in Skyfall and Spectre, another iconic face coming back to the fold feels like all the reason I need to pour a big, fat martini.
Remind yourself of Leiter in action in the poker scene from Casino Royale.
Nobody knows when Bond 25 will hit theaters just yet (November 2018 is a solid guess), but it's looking likely that Daniel Craig will return to spy another day.
Are you stoked for Bond 25, and will Felix Leiter finally get the chance to prove his badass spy credentials?