James Bond is the model for all modern spies–even your Bournes and Harry Palmers are written in counteraction to 007. But I.S.I.S. agent Sterling Archer is 100% Bond…if the debonair spy had been raised in America by a mother who ruined his psyche, and among coworkers who call him a psychotic jerk to his face. But are these the hindrances they seem? Or does adversity make an agent stronger? It’s time to compare who’s the better spy.
British Wit vs. American Slapstick
While Bond films have always been about how a secret agent uses strength, skill, suaveness, and sex to save the world time and again, humor is a secondary element to provide comic relief from yet another scene where Bond is bedding down his latest mission while defusing a nuclear bomb that will be dropped into the core of the earth, launching World War whatever-we’re-up-to-in-Bond-films. Quips like “I think that’s enough, Goldfinger, you’ve made your point,” may seem as easy as “Why did the chicken cross the road”, but add those to longer jokes and sprinkle in some sexual innuendo that go past just female names, and you have timeless spy humor that covers all bases and lasts for 50 years. Archer, on the other hand, brandishes his humor like a mallet. From cracks about the concierge Benoit (balls) to tip jokes to making Krieger’s van handicap accessible, Archer continues to entertain with the obvious, which makes it even funnier because the obvious really has no place when it comes to spy games.
When it comes to the vehicle of a secret agent, MI6 pulls out all the stops to give Bond something sleek, fast, elegant, and, most importantly, quiet. You can’t be very covert when the engine of your car is so loud that you can’t hear the code to unlock the glove compartment. This is why Bond cars usually ended up in the realm of Aston Martin, Lotus, and BMW. Archer, on the other hand, drives a Dodge Challenger, which is not only loud but has the license plate “SPY GUY.” It’s no wonder that Burt Reynolds stated, “I just didn’t know they sold those to men” when he saw Archer’s wheels of choice. Bond cars also have much more gadgetry: missiles, rocker-packs, deep-sea diving capabilities. Archer’s car had a pre-recorded message and a drink tray with iced tea.
When spying at a casino, it is always best to know what you are doing. That is what Bond does no matter who is playing him at the time. Baccarat, roulette, poker, some random war-game that a villain dreams up…whatever the game and whatever the stakes, James Bond eventually wins out. Archer, on the other hand, has no idea what the names of some games are. This is apparent when he visits Monaco and ends up losing almost the entire 401K fund for ISIS when he finds baccarat to be easy without even knowing what the dealer is saying.
If there is one thing that Bond movies don’t do too much, it’s keep women around for more than one film, especially female sidekicks. This isn’t to say that none of them wouldn’t be welcome to return. It’s just not Bond’s way. How would he look seducing the next female double-agent while his partner glares at him? He would look a lot like Archer, as Lana Kane is that continual partner who always seems to get in the way of covert espionage. It’s not that Archer and Lana don’t get the job done. They just do it while bickering like a married couple, or divorced couple, or estranged couple that want to keep one-upping each other. It’s something that Bond movies don’t need, but is some welcome comic relief that would probably work, if only once.
Quartermaster, or Something Like It
Every secret agent needs an insane genius behind him, making his job easier with the sort of gadgetry that makes weapons manufacturers and techno-geeks blush. For Bond, we have Q, whose inventions range from Aston Martins with stinger missiles to watches that make Swiss Army look like Fisher-Price. For Archer, we have Dr. Krieger, whose pimped-out vans and artificially intelligent hologram anime brides are more selfish inventions that don’t make the world any safer.
The Love of a Good Woman
Surprisingly enough, both James Bond and Sterling Archer were married at one time. no, not to each other. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s surprising that James Bond would find the time to get caught up enough in one woman to warrant putting a ring on her finger, which was the only reason that George Lazenby portrayal really receives any credit. In Archer’s case, it’s surprising that anyone would want to deal with Archer’s ego til death do them part, which is what happened when the hottest animated spy, Katya Kasanova, defected from the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, or fortunately if you were annoyed by these story-lines, both spy wives met their demise, and only one of them came back as a super-powered cyborg.
Patrick Emmel is not a secret agent. He has never been to Beirut. He is not watching you from outside your window right now. You can see some of his work at www.theineptowl.com or heckle him on Twitter @Patrick_AE.
Patrick knows every good secret agent has a drink in his hand, which is why he compared the characters of Archer to different types of alcohol. Or take it one step further with The Best Bond Actor: Proven by Alcohol.