Ralph FiennesThe shroud of secrecy surrounding the upcoming James Bond film "Skyfall" has been so dense, you'd almost think Christopher Nolan or Ridley Scott were directing it, but now the first real spoiler has just hit the internet... and this one is about as big as they come.

Forget spoiler warnings; you're going to need a bomb shield for this one, because your head is about to explode.  

First, let's set the stage by going over what we already know about "Skyfall." The third installment in the current Daniel Craig iteration of the venerable spy franchise, "Skyfall" was delayed — and nearly cancelled outright — due to legal wrangling by the studio. Now it's finally in full swing, with director Sam Mendes ("Revolutionary Road," "American Beauty") preparing the film for a Nov. 9, 2012, release.

Until now, though, all we really knew about the plot is that it heavily involves M, James Bond's boss, who has been played by Judi Dench since 1995's "Goldeneye." Or should we say, had been played?

Yes, it's a shocker: According to MovieWeb, "Skyfall" will be the last film for Dench as the movie will detail M's retirement as well as the training for her replacement -- and the new M will be none other than Ralph Fiennes.

"Ralph Fiennes plays a government agent, which we never get a name on, because he is set to play the new M," the bombshell from MovieWeb reads. Dench's "past forces her to leave as head of MI6, and find a new M. The board of MI6 then turns to a government agent (Ralph Fiennes) to take over. M (Dame Judi) is now forced to train the new head of MI6."

There's no question that the franchise just won't be the same without Dench. But will fans warm to Fiennes in the role the way they have embraced John Cleese as Q? Or will the thought of the world's freedom being in the hands of Lord Voldemort be too much? Either way, it looks like this time, Chicken Little was right, because the sky really is falling in the 007 universe.

We'll miss you, Judi.

Ralph Fiennes


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