Thursday, 2 October 2014

A Female James Bond

DISCLAIMER: The subject matter tackled in this article may be extremely offensive to die-hard James Bond fans. You have been warned.

James Bond has been a cultural phenomenon since the 1960's, with dozens of movies spanning over several decades and continuing to be made today. By this point you should already know my thoughts on the overall franchise, but if you don't let me put it simply:

  • Daniel Craig=YAY! 
  • Sean Connery=Misogynistic pervert who doesn't deserve my respect. 
  • Pierce Brosnan=Okay. 

So the Bond franchise has come a long way, and one need look no further than the way women are treated. Connery's Bond saw women as attractive things he could have sex with. Craig's Bond actually treats women as human beings. The Bond films have changed with society in many respects. Let's face it, the 1960's was a bit of a messed up time (you know something is weird when Barbarella was one of the more progressive images of women). Still, Bond has traditionally been played by a white male actor. Perhaps it's time to try something a bit different.

I've been talking to a lot of people about this lately, and while there is no specific indication of it happening in the near future (Craig is apparently going to do at least two more Bond films before anyone else takes over), it sparks quite the discussion. Some people really like the idea, and others are adamantly opposed to it for one reason or another. To make a long story short, I'm interested in the idea of James Bond being played by a woman.

Now before you say anything, the biggest problem I've really encountered with this idea is the name. "James" is not usually a girl's name. However, "Jamie" can be either gender, and it could be said that she is often referred to by the nickname of "James" (short for "Jamie"), thus still retaining the James Bond title. There, problem solved.

The second major problem would be the question of what to do about the famous "Bond girls" of the franchise. I've got several solutions to that. One simple solution is to do nothing. Jamie Bond could be written as a lesbian and thus the Bond girls could still keep their usual form (and hey, a homosexual Bond might just be a good way for the franchise to atone for the homophobia in Goldfinger). 

Alternatively, if you really didn't want to go the homosexual route, perhaps it might be a nice change to introduce a "Bond guy". It's like a Bond girl except instead it's a glamorous and extremely handsome man (incidentally, this  part could still work with a male Bond if the writers were daring enough). In other words, turning the usual Bond formula over its head. Now it's a female superspy teaming up with an attractive man to save the day. 

Either of these approaches could work. Personally I'm all down for lesbian Jamie Bond (although a gay male Bond would still be an interesting experience) but I like the idea of turning things around by bringing in a "Bond guy". Story-wise, these films probably wouldn't be a whole lot different from the more recent Bond films: a superspy gets assigned a mission that involves them having to team up with an attractive woman (or man, possibly) which takes them on an adventure through several exotic locations before they save the day at the end. 

Now I know what you're thinking: "Bond is inherently male" or something along those lines. Well, as I've been told time and time again, Bond is a franchise that changes with the times. If Goldfinger was made today, the filmmakers would never have gotten away with putting in the glorified rape scene that made it into the 1964 version. The Bond franchise has changed with changes in society, and now in a world where (most of us, anyway) are advocating equality between genders, it isn't so easy to distinguish "masculinity" from "femininity". 

Quite simply, there's no reason a woman today can't display traits that were at one point in a misogynistic society considered to be "masculine". There is even a bit of this already in the more recent incarnations: M was traditionally a male character until the role was taken up by Judi Dench in the Brosnan Era, which eventually carried on into the Craig films right up until Skyfall.

Also from Skyfall, there is the major change in Miss Moneypenny's role. In the Connery era, Moneypenny was a minor character who would appear briefly for no other reason than so Bond could flirt with her for a few minutes and then forget she ever existed (at least until the obligatory scene where she shows up in the next film). Skyfall gave Moneypenny an actual characterization. It turned her into an action girl (who gets to brandish more than a few firearms) and allowed her to actually have a role to play in the overall story.

Then again, a lot of the detractors seem to be the die-hard Bond enthusiasts, the same ones who point to Connery as the "definitive" Bond. If they had their way, Craig would still be treating women as sex objects and casting them aside as soon as he was through. Instead of deconstructing those aspects of his character and showing how absurd they are, Casino Royale would have continued to glorify Bond's mistreatment of women. You said it yourselves, Bond changes with the times. What was acceptable in Connery's era is no longer acceptable in Craig's and with very good reason.

So ultimately I see no real reason why our present social circumstances shouldn't allow the presence of a female James Bond. Barring the comments made by Connery purists, I've already managed to easily resolve the main story problems with the idea and I personally think it could make for a very interesting twist on the franchise. A female Bond would have been inconceivable in Connery's day, but this isn't Connery's day anymore is it? 

Also, it would be fun to see a female Bond just to see all the die-hard fans freak out over it. I can see them getting into endless rants on the discussion boards and other bloggers ranting about it, but get over it. A female James Bond wouldn't be that big a deal and if you really, really have a problem with it, it's not like the older films with male Bond are going anywhere. They're far too popular to get pulled off the shelves at your local video store. If Bond is supposed to change with the times, than I think we're at a suitable point to try some gender-swapping. 


  1. Oh no you don't!-:) I am not one for a female James Bond-Jamie sounds too cutesy and the lesbo theme is not my idea of a good time to watch. I am one of those die hard Bond freaks and I love Sean Connery in the role-yup your eyes are rolling and you want to thump me-hahahaa. I am one of the few that like Timothy Dalton because he gave more heart to the role and the actor didn't want to sleep with 5 women in the film. He felt that the women needed to be treated with more respect which I like. Now I am open to a female who has her own series, shall we say, who could easily whoop Bond's ass, sleep with men and enjoy it and know as much as Bond does. I would enjoy it if she appeared with Bond in a film and then carried on. Why can't a women be just as sex hungry as a man? Why always make them lesbian then. Nope-make her strong, beautiful, better than Bond in the kicking ass territory, not want or even like kids, love sex with men and catch the bad guy/gal. I don't want Halle Berry. I wonder about Cate Blanchett-she would add class! Scarlett Johannsen is another. Anyway that's my thoughts:)

    1. Well, to be fair that was sort of the idea behind the "Bond guy" approach I proposed, where it would essentially be a flipping of the usual dynamics so that it was the woman who got to seduce and romance all the extremely attractive men. My hypothetical female Bond would enjoy sex just as much as the male one (although it would probably be more on a level to Craig's Bond than Connery's).

      The other thing about this would be the actress would have to be British in keeping with the usual tradition, so I don't think Cate Blanchett or Scarlett Johannsen would be the best options.

    2. ahh yes...just don't pick Keira Knightley, anyone could snap her like a twig:)

  2. Great read, John. While I personally wouldn't mind a female Bond, I'd say it's probably a better idea to give a female super spy her own series rather than drastically change this one. However, if they were going to go the route you suggest, I'll propose that they go with Jane Bond over Jamie. Can't buy a Jamie as a super spy.

  3. I already commented on this in your "Skyfall" review. To me this concept seems way to gimmicky if applied to the existing franchise. It feels like a stunt to pull just to get us old codgers up in arms and fuming and posting randomly on blogs about how silly the whole concept is. :)

    To me James Bond has some very set traditions, things that even the current producers haven't touched too much because they would end up losing the very elements that make a James Bond film- well a James Bond film. I think messing with the genders is something that would just backfire in a tremendous fashion.

    All that said, a new franchise with a female agent who does what Bond does would be a great idea. And as I mentioned they've already given it a go a few times in the past. There are a lot of great story telling ideas you could work with a female agent, and hell if the creators want to do a cross over film with Bond, that would be great.

    Yes, us old timers say to change with the times, and at what point does it cease to be a Bond movie and just turns into something else.

    Oh and for the record this "detractor" is not a Connery fan. I'll defend his approach, but for me Timothy Dalton is the best embodiment of the character, especially as Fleming envisioned him. I'd have to say Craig falls right behind him and then you get Brosnan who was a good fit but had lousy scripts and questionable direction hurting his films.