What Does The Title 'Spectre' Mean?

by Kadeen Griffiths

It's here, it's here! The title of the new James Bond film is here! On Thursday morning, it was announced that Bond 24 is officially called Spectre — and, no, my American friends, that's not just the way that the British spell the word specter. Bond isn't fighting ghosts in this, his 24th adventure, no matter how cool that would be. If you're like me and only a casual James Bond fan, depending on the attractiveness of the Bond currently carrying the franchise, then the title of the movie might not make much sense to you. So what does Spectre actually mean for James Bond? Apparently, it's a reoccurring theme in the Bond mythos.

SPECTRE is the name of a global terrorist organization in the Bond universe, one that James Bond has faced off against in numerous books and films to this point. The name is an acronym for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion (because you know how much shadowy terrorist organizations love their threatening acronyms) and the leader of SPECTRE is Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Bond has faced an operative from the organization in six films so far: Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever — six and a half films if you include an unidentified Blofield cameo in For Your Eyes Only.

In addition, SPECTRE changed their role between the Bond novels and the Bond films. In the books, the organization is Blofield's commercial enterprise that includes members from other such groups as the Gestapo, the fictional Soviet group SMERSH, and even the Mafia. In the films, SPECTRE completely overtakes the role of SMERSH, likely because the Soviet Union is no longer a thing, and plays a more prominent role than they ever did in the novels — starting with changing villain Dr. Julius No from being a USSR operative to being a SPECTRE agent.

However, SPECTRE has been largely retired from the films ever since Diamonds Are Forever (Blofield's cameo in For Your Eyes Only aside) and replaced with an underground terrorist operation known as Quantum for the Daniel Craig stint as Bond. Thus, the fact that they are about to make a triumphant return in the next Bond film — was Quantum really another arm of SPECTRE perhaps? — is an amazing surprise for longtime fans of the films or of the novels who have been missing Blofield and all his machinations dearly. Good luck to James Bond for this little adventure. He's going to need it, considering how much time SPECTRE has had time to plan their next attack.

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