James Bond: Can the Woman-Using, Slightly Misogynistic Spy Survive #MeToo?
James Bond has been on our movie screens since 1962. With various actors portraying our leading man throughout the years, one thing has not changed: Bond’s treatment of women in the spy films. Can Bond survive and successfully navigate the #MeToo era?
The British intelligence officer, as a matter of course in each film, encounters bad guys, more bad guys, and along the way, gorgeous women he seduces, uses to get to the bad guys or away from the bad guys, possibly ravishes again, and then disposes of.
The mission for the latest Bond flick, No Time To Die, is clear: It’s time to bring this aging movie franchise into the 21st century, especially as it regards its portrayal and treatment of women.
Let’s take a look at the suave, womanizing Bond and the character’s rebirth as a more enlightened spy for this new age.
James Bond’s historically disposable treatment of women
Just one example of Bond’s poor treatment of women, and perhaps his desensitization towards human life in general, occurs in the 2012 film, Skyfall.
Played by Daniel Craig, the current franchise Bond, the spy encounters the film’s ‘Bond Girl.’ Bérénice Marlohe appears in the role of Sévérine as a former sex trafficked woman who is now working under Bond villain, Raoul Silva, devilishly played by Javier Bardem.
Once Bond is snagged by Silva, Sévérine is tied up and Silva challenges the spy to shoot a glass of scotch off the terrified Bond Girl’s head. Bond misses his shot; however, Silva shoots her and kills her. Bond then flippantly remarks that her death was a “waste of good scotch.”
Craig in 2015 told The Independent of his character’s outdated treatment of women, “The world has changed. I am certainly not that [sexist and misogynistic] person. But he is, and so what does that mean? It means you cast great actresses and make the parts as good as you can for the women in the movies.”
What’s different for ‘No Time to Die’
The upcoming 25th film in the franchise boasts a fact not seen since 1962’s Dr. No: a female screenwriter.
Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s help in cleaning up the script for the film was requested by none other than the star, Daniel Craig, himself. She’s working from the script written by veteran Bond writers Neal Purvis and Robert Wade. Craig exploded in an interview with The Sunday Times at the implication that she was brought on because she’s a woman.
“Look, we’re having a conversation about Phoebe’s gender here, which is f—ing ridiculous,” Craig said. “She’s a great writer. Why shouldn’t we get Phoebe onto Bond?”
For her part, Waller-Bridge told Deadline earlier this year, “There’s been a lot of talk about whether or not [the Bond franchise] is relevant now because of who he is and the way he treats women,” she said. “I think that’s bollocks. I think he’s absolutely relevant now.
“It has just got to grow. It has just got to evolve, and the important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn’t have to. He needs to be true to this character.”
The Fleabag and Killing Eve writer noted that she wants the women in No Time to Die to feel “like real people.”
“I just want to make sure that when they get those pages through, that [Bond women] Lashana [Lynch], Léa [Seydoux] and Ana [de Armas] open them and go: ‘I can’t wait to do that.’ As an actress, I very rarely had that feeling early in my career. That brings me much pleasure, knowing that I’m giving that to an actress.”
Bond finally seems to get a clue in ‘No Time To Die’
From all early reports, it appears that the new Bond women in the film aren’t just arm candy or momentary pleasures. They’re real women with multi-layered personalities and lives.
Ana de Armas talked to CinemaBlend last month about her character, Paloma.
“[Paloma] is a character that is very irresponsible. She’s got this bubbliness of someone who is excited to be on a mission, but she plays with this ambiguity — you don’t really know if she’s like a really trained, prepared partner for Bond… She’s very smart. She helps Bond navigate through certain things that he wouldn’t be able to do alone.”
We’ll have to wait and see if Bond can handle this new era or if he drowns in his own ignorance.