The newest movie in the James Bond franchise, No Time to Die, hits theaters on Oct. 8. As what is meant to be Daniel Craig’s final outing as 007, there’s already a lot to be excited for in this film, especially when it comes to Craig’s co-stars. The Bond series is no stranger to interesting supporting characters, and the latest installment is no different. In fact, No Time to Die is making history this time around because of its cast, as it marks the first time that a film in the series will feature two Black women as Bond girls.
Two Black Bond girls will be featured in ‘No Time to Die’
As we said, No Time to Die marks the first time in franchise history that two Bond girls will be played by Black women. For the uninitiated, a Bond girl is the designation given to a female character featured in a James Bond movie that acts as either his love interest or companion during the events of the movie. Many also have a suggestive pun for a name (Pussy Galore, anyone?), but this isn’t necessarily required to get the job.
The first of these women is Naomie Harris, returning to the role of Eve Moneypenny that she played in both Skyfall and Spectre. Though normally portrayed as secretary to M (Bond’s boss), the Craig movies reinvented her as a former field agent with an action-packed past working with Bond. If you’re thinking that sounds like spinoff potential, you wouldn’t be wrong.
The second is Lashana Lynch as new character Nomi, who’s also making headlines for being the first woman and person of color to take on the 007 designation in a movie. As is pointed out in her talk with Harper’s BAZAAR, though, that shouldn’t be confused as her taking over Craig’s role as the character of James Bond; instead, she is another agent of MI6 who’s been given the iconic codename after Bond’s retirement prior to the start of the new movie.
There are now five Bond girls of Jamaican descent in the films
Now that Lynch is coming to the franchise, No Time to Die will also mean that there are officially five different Bond girls of Jamaican descent in the series. Harris is the fourth woman on the list, her mother originating in the country and Harris herself having spent time there growing up. Grace Jones in A View to Kill is another prominent Jamaican Bond girl, having lived in Spanish Town for the first 13 years of her life.
Lynch in particular has talked about how proud she is to represent her heritage in the film, as described by Page Six. This made even more intriguing as Jamaica will be a major location in the film.
The ‘Bond’ franchise has had a complicated history with race in the past
As much fun as the James Bond movies are, there’s an undeniable dark side to the franchise. Many of the original books and some of the earliest movies were written when the British empire still had power, and the specter of colonialism can be felt throughout them. As HuffPost dissected when talking about the original novelist, Ian Fleming, James Bond as a character was very much emblematic of the imperial power England used to hold.
This history is reflected in many of the previous non-white Bond girls of the movies, Nerdist doing a good job at breaking down the roles of previous Black Bond girls in the series. While many have been present in various roles throughout the series, the quality of those roles has been quite inconsistent.
One of the more major Black Bond girls of days gone by is Rosie Carver (played by Gloria Hendry) of Live and Let Die, who unfortunately did little before dying early in the film. Beyond named roles, the film Diamonds Are Forever has a particularly cringe-worthy example of poor representation when an unnamed Black woman held in a cage is transformed into an actual gorilla as part of a circus sideshow.
Somewhat better is Jones’ role as May Day. Not only does she get the chance to be a competent fighter and overall fun character, she even defects from the villains to help Bond save the day. Unfortunately, she also dies before the end of the film.
All that having been said, the Craig movies have been somewhat of a turning point for the franchise, the newest movie being a good example. While its roots are inescapable, the newer movies have helped to push the franchise forward in terms of representation and presentation of the character of Bond. Hopefully, that positive trajectory continues on even after this chapter comes to an end.