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Skyfall Was Almost The First Movie To Feature Two James Bonds

After over 40 years and 20 movies, Ion productions was on the hunt for their sixth James Bond. Following the likes of Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan, the new Bond would need to breathe new life into the role. The choice of Daniel Craig was met with some controversy. Craig told Yahoo! Entertainment that while he was bothered by it initially, he grew up a fan of the franchise and had no hard feelings for the immediate hesitation. He says in the interview that all he could do was make a good movie and let fans decide, and decide they did. He made four more films chronicling Bond's entire timeline, from promotion in "Casino Royal" to his sacrifice in "No Time to Die."

Craig's James Bond era subverted many of the classic Bond tropes, from beginning "Casino Royal" with the franchise's first black and white intro and the first to not begin with a gun barrel sequence. It was also the first film that didn't include Q and Moneypenny. His follow-up film, "Quantum of Solace," picked up right where the last left off. While many of the Bond actors seemed to be linear stories (at least two of the previous ones faced the same villain in SPECTRE), "Quantum" felt like the first direct sequel.

His third outing, arguably one of the best in the entire franchise per Rotten Tomatoes, was "Skyfall." While it showed a return to classic Bond with the introduction of Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris), it also did something the series never did before. It killed off Bond's boss, M (Judi Dench). But there was one other thing the film almost did for the first time, which could have changed the franchise forever.

Sean Connery was supposed to appear

No James Bond actor has ever returned to another Bond actor's movie as a cameo, but there was talk of having Connery do just that. The third act of "Skyfall" sees James Bond kidnap M, who was facing retribution from a former 00 she left in China to be tortured. To get her away from the devilish Silva (Javier Bardem), Bond puts her in his car and takes him to his old estate, where they prepare for a last stand along with the estate's caretaker, the grizzled Kincaid (Albert Finney). While Finney played the role brilliantly, he wasn't the only choice director Sam Mendes had in mind.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Mendes answered a question about bringing nostalgia back into the franchise with "Skyfall." With a part in Scotland going to an older man, one who needed to be able to help Bond and M fight off Silva and his men, there was a natural question about bringing back Sean Connery. "There was a definite discussion about that way early on. But I think that's problematic. Because, to me, it becomes too ... it would take you out of the movie. Connery is Bond, and he will not come back as another character. It's like, he's been there. So, it was a very brief flirtation with that thought, but it would never happen because I thought it would distract."

Of course, while Connery making a surprise appearance in the third act of "Skyfall" (the only James Bond movie to make a billion at the box office) would have created an incredible moment of fan service for the Bond loyal, it could have created significant ripples throughout the franchise. What would his appearance mean for the franchise if Kincaid was James Bond?

It could have made a popular Bond theory cannon

Since there have been six different actors playing the same character in the sixty years of James Bond movies, there are only three different ways it works. The first is that they are six separate storylines, with constant reboots. The second possibility is put forth on Reddit by u/jemetib, who theorizes that all James Bond movies are one continuous timeline where all six actors play the same character in different phases of his 00 career.

While some evidence supports this theory, there are plenty of inconsistencies. In "Skyfall," when Bond returns to speak to M, she comments that he knows how the game is played because he has played it long enough. This implies that a slew of missions occurred between Daniel Craig's second and third outings, taking him from rookie to veteran. The inconsistencies come with M. Judi Dench directed Bond in the Pierce Brosnan era and three of five of the Craig films. If Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) takes over for Dench and is there until his death, it doesn't leave room for the other M's. Connery's appearance in "Skyfall" in either of these theories is little more than fan service.

The last possibility is that James Bond is a code name passed down from agent to agent over the years. That makes it easier to watch the films in order and not worry too much about continuity. If this is the case, Connery's appearance in "Skyfall" is much more than fan service. It confirms the theory as canon as he would have been a retired 00, living at the estate for the remainder of his years and helping the new Bond with one last mission. 

Not the only ending to Sean Connery's Bond

In 1996, Nicolas Cage kicked off a two-year span where he starred in three of his biggest movies, "The Rock," "Con Air," and "Face/Off." "The Rock" follows General Francis X. Hummel (Ed Harris), who takes over Alcatraz with a tour group. Under the threat of hostages and rockets with nerve gas, he ransoms the government for payouts to dead American soldiers. It is up to Stanley Goodspeed (Cage) and former Alcatraz prisoner (rumored to be the only person ever to escape) John Patrick Mason (Sean Connery).

Reddit u/thearn4 theorizes that Mason was, in reality, an imprisoned James Bond. In the film, F.B.I. Director Womack (John Spencer) states that he was incarcerated in 1962 and escaped in 1963. That means that between his missions in "Dr. No" and "From Russia with Love," he spent time in Alcatraz before escaping. Then, presumably was picked up again after his final outing as James Bond in 1971, spending his time in maximum security prisons in the United States until 1996. After the events on Alcatraz, Goodspeed covers for him and tells the U.S. Government that Mason died, allowing him to disappear.

The Reddit thread continues to debate the theory, and there is some supporting evidence, including the knowledge that MI6 disavows all captured agents, he states he is part of British Intelligence, and John Patrick Mason doesn't exist. Could this have been the actual ending of Sean Connery's James Bond? Did he return to his homeland to be put up in the Bond estate? Is the estate reserved specifically for retired 00s carrying the Bond name? There are a lot of questions surrounding the possibility, lending credibility to Sam Mendes' theory that his appearance would have been a distraction to the great film "Skyfall."