Why A Female James Bond Would Be Brilliant
The idea of having a female Bond is by no means a new one, but with the recent rumours that No Time To Die will feature Lashana Lynch taking over from Daniel Craig as 007, it seems that the years of hopeful speculation might finally pay off. Lynch is said to only be taking on the code name, not the lead role itself, but that hasn't stopped fans of the franchise from getting excited about the gender switch-up – in fact, even the four-time Bond vet Pierce Brosnan has backed the change.
“I think we've watched the guys do it for the last 40 years. Get out of the way, guys, and put a woman up there. I think it would be exhilarating, it would be exciting,” said Brosnan in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter. "The Me Too movement has been relevant and significant and well needed in our society, so they'll have to address that," he said, arguing that the film series must adapt to keep up with our changing society. Still, he made it clear that he didn't think the change would happen under the film's current producers: “I don’t think that’s going to happen with the Broccolis. I don’t think that’s going to happen under their watch."
But if we do get a female Bond, how should she be portrayed? Let’s get one thing clear: leave the name alone. If a woman is cast as Jane Bond then she isn’t playing James Bond – she’s playing Jane Bond, a completely different character. The name must stay. And this is important, because it’s the idea of a "Jane Bond" as much as a female "James Bond" that initially feels so alienating. Fortunately, a woman named James is not only feasible but fashionable: unisex monikers are currently all the rage.
Just ask Deadpool: Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively named their daughter "James" in 2015. And frankly, for a franchise that has given us Strawberry Fields, Xenia Onatopp, Tiffany Case, Solitaire, Mayday, Jinx, Plenty O’Toole and far too many others to mention, a female James is hardly much of a stretch.
Key Bond relationships wouldn't change
Crucially the central dynamics would remain unaltered. M and Bond would share a deep if occasionally brittle respect, the spymaster sometimes frustrated by 007 but aware she’s the best agent for the job. Q would still provide the gadgets, still be irked by their failure to be returned in good condition, still chastise Bond for mucking around when she should be listening to his briefing. The flirtation with Moneypenny (Mr Moneypenny? Works either way). A female Bond might add an interesting new dimension to these relationships (Judi Dench worked okay, no?) but fundamentally nothing need change here.
Masculinity not required
What else? Combat should not be a problem: the best Bond fights tend to involve a larger and stronger opponent (Jaws, Oddjob, the recent Mr Hinx). Technique may take precedent over brute force but is that a bad thing? Craig’s physicality was a defining feature but Bond wasn’t always thus – go and watch a Roger Moore. The Vodka Martinis, the Aston Martin, the bad quips – none of these require a masculine touch. Whether or not Bond wears a tuxedo or an evening gown is a matter for the wardrobe department: either way, she’ll doubtless look fantastic. (That’s generally the result when physical beauty meets expensive style.) Otherwise one imagines the attire would be all sharp suits and power dressing – a feminised version of what we have now.
The difference between a female and male Bond
Would Bond herself be different? Well of course she would – just as Timothy Dalton portrayed a notably different character from Roger Moore. But she would remain recognisably James Bond: ruthless, reckless, supremely capable, devastatingly suave, more than a little snobbish. Cold one moment, witty the next, always alert to the possibility of danger. Trading barbs with villains across the card table, flirting outrageously with anybody she desired or required. Yes, there would be cries of “sacrilege!” just as there has been for every Bond since Connery, and for some people she just wouldn’t be James Bond, even if Ian Fleming’s ghost wrote her a letter of endorsement. No casting can please everyone. One thing’s for sure: you wouldn’t hear too many “mehs”. (The reaction to the “Bond can’t be black” brigade is reason enough to cast a woman immediately. Thandie Newton, anyone?)
Bond has always adapted
The Bond franchise has endured for 50 years – to endure for another 50 it must continue to evolve and experiment, be willing to remix the formula. This doesn’t mean casting a woman for the sake of it, but nor should the notion be dismissed out of hand. The feasibility of a female James Bond has been discussed above. Now consider the creative possibilities. A film where Bond and the villain might sleep together, perhaps even share a genuine attraction; where Bond appears the underdog in every fight; where an extra chip is placed on Bond’s shoulder due to her gender in a man’s world; where every tired old trope, every “shaken not stirred”, every “Bond, James Bond”, is given fresh life. Even if the casting proved unsuccessful – and, like all bold moves, it carries no guarantees – then at least the failure would be a new and interesting one, glorious in its ambition. James Bond: are you ready for her?