During the launch event for Bond 25 aka No Time to Die, longtime franchise producer, Barbara Broccoli said, “[James] Bond is a male character, that is just a fact.” Broccoli explained, “We have to make movies about women and women’s stories, but we have to create female characters, not just turn a male character into a woman for a gimmick.”
Broccoli’s comments were made in April of this year before the pandemic repeatedly delayed the release of the film. The debate over whether a woman should take over the 007 roles after Daniel Craig hangs up his tux later this year has hampered No Time to Die’s long road to theatres.
Following discussions about Hollywood’s inability to develop female action actors, the general gender imbalance in major blockbusters, and James Bond’s long history of misogyny, many people have recognised the need for a reboot of the nearly 60-year-old film franchise. Maybe Ian Fleming’s written-male super spy could support a gender-bending twist if Doctor Who could finally imagine a female Doctor. Even ex-Bond Pierce Brosnan backed the idea in September 2019. The actor told The Hollywood Reporter, “I think we’ve watched the guys do it for the last 40 years.” “Get out of the way, guys, and let a woman take her place up there. I believe it would be thrilling and exhilarating.”
With Broccoli dismissing the idea, there’s little chance of a significant change in Bond’s future (though after years of pushing producers to consider Idris Elba for the iconic role as soon as Craig was done, one hopes that some amount of change might be possible). However, a new featurette for No Time to Die suggests that the series’ detractors have been heard: While Bond 25 may be Craig’s final outing as the character, it will feature at least two new female characters who are more than capable of keeping up with his running and gunning.
Nomi, previously revealed as an agent who assists Bond in his mission to take down a tech-savvy villain, Safrin, is played by Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel) (Rami Melk). To add to Lynch’s significance, reports suggest Nomi will be the first woman and person of color to work as 007, as Bond, who is retired in Jamaica when the film begins, allegedly passes on his code number either before or during the events of the film.
In a new profile in The Guardian, Lynch says, “I think they were just looking for someone who could be a Bond match.” “Who would be able to stand up and be vocal, forthright, strong, and capable of handling a weapon, capable of handling herself, and not someone who takes crap from anyone at all?” Then, as the storey progressed, she evolved into this complex, free-spirited, open-minded vocal human being who adds a unique twist to MI6.”
Craig is joined by his Knives Out co-star Ana de Armas, who plays Cuban agent Paloma, in the new installment. The character’s first significant footage focuses on action, with de Armas wielding two machine guns while dressed in a ballroom gown — a very Bond moment. Both de Armas and Lynch’s training regiments are shown in the video, and they appear to be brutal and more John Wickian than anything else in the Bond canon.
Lynch talks about working with Phoebe Waller-Bridge, the creator of Fleabag, to improve the No Time to Die script and elevate the female characters beyond the traditional “Bond Girl” set dressing roles, in an interview with The Guardian.
“I said, I want her to be a real woman, but I don’t want her work to make her masculine. She’s not slick. She has it together, she’s highly competent and very highly skilled, but she’s a real human being and sometimes she’s awkward. And that’s what is so clever about Phoebe’s writing. Once we’d had a conversation about her possibly being awkward, there were some moments that I read that were just like, ‘Oh no, is she really going to say that in the scene? I’m so here for it!’”
The range of “Bond Girls” includes femme Fatales, one-dimensional bombshells, and, more recently, women like Vesper Lynd, who lived, died, and emotionally propped up a male hero despite her incapacity. If No Time to Die’s emphasis on tough, feminine agents is indicative of the finished product, the promiscuous secret agent’s days may be numbered. Big if.
Will we ever see a female Bond? Probably not. Will we need one? Depends if producers Jinx the newcomers.