After a long layoff, 007 is finally getting back his license to kill.
The James Bond franchise got a creative shot in the arm back in 2006 with the casting of the ruggedly handsome Daniel Craig as the tuxedo-clad superspy in Casino Royale.
Now three years since the last mission, 2008's Quantum of Solace, and after MGM's teetering finances nearly deep-sixed the Craig-led series, here are five things Flemingites oughta know about Bond's next great adventure:
1. The Title's a Mystery, but About That Release Date: Commit it to memory. Nov. 9, 2012. Now that MGM has finally gotten its house in order, that day will live in Bond history as the day the next movie in the secret agent's now 40-year-old canon—currently being referred to by its working title of Bond 23—hits theaters.
2. Who's Back: Dame Judi Dench let slip Bond 23's start date, telling the U.K.'s Express she is indeed due to reprise her role as 007's tough-as-nails boss, M, for the seventh time this November. "I don't know the location yet, but hopefully it will be somewhere nice," said the 76-year-old acting legend. "I can't tell you much more, but I do enjoy playing M as she is such a strong character. I like being bossy, and my grandson thinks its cool that I'm in Bond." Also returning is the screenwriting duo of Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who wrote the last five entries.
3. Is Daniel Free This Fall? With shooting expected to commence in November 2011, Craig's increasingly busy schedule will have cleared up, with four of his big 2011 films in the pipeline: The would-be summer blockbuster Cowboys & Aliens, the drama Dream House with new squeeze Rachel Weisz, the Steven Spielberg-directed performance-capture fest The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn and the heavily hyped English-language redo of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
4. And the Villain Is: Good question. But there are a number of talented actors whom producers are eyeing to follow in the footsteps of such great baddies as Dr. No, Blofeld, Goldfinger and Le Chiffre. Oscar-winner Javier Bardem is rumored to be in talks as Bond's main nemesis while Ralph Fiennes is being bandied about to play a "dark, complex" role.
5. Bond Will Take His Marching Orders From... A 007 film needs a director who will shake things up, much like Bond's trademark martinis—someone to step in and keep it fresh, but at the same time, not drift too far from the classic and the familiar. Enter American Beauty director Sam Mendes, whom producers tapped for this go-round to maintain the emotional depth the series began to explore when Craig came aboard.
We're looking forward to seeing what he comes up with.