I’ve long been a fan of Felix Leiter, James Bond’s best friend. Despite my admiration for Joe Don Baker especially his performance in Edge of Darkness, and even Brad Whittaker in The Living Daylights, his Jack Wade (introduced only two films later) was frankly an inadequate replacement for Leiter.
Leiter was savaged in the book Live and Let Die, as he was in the film Licence to Kill. In the books, he ends up with a hook for a hand. In the film, they set it up so he can make a full recovery. But he never returned.
Until now. I’m delighted Felix will make a comeback in the most promising Bond film for over a decade. But I can’t help feeling that it’s slightly odd that Felix will be played by Jeffrey Wright, who is black. Felix wasn’t black before, and now he is. The continuitity of Bond films has always been suspect (Leiter has been played by a different actor in every film he’s featured in, except for Licence to Kill), but isn’t this quite a big change of identity? Certainly, M is now a woman, but “M” is a job, Felix is a character. Judi Dench is not playing the same character Bernard Lee did.
Still, mostly I’m just pleased Felix is back.