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We Don’t Need a Female Bond Because James Bond Exemplifies Toxic Masculinity

james bond looks tired

The 25th James Bond film, No Time To Die, hits theaters in April, and it looks pretty cool. As part of the run-up, roducer Barbara Broccoli, who, along with her family, owns the rights and oversees the character, shared her thoughts on Bond and the future of the franchise this week in a wide-ranging interview with Variety.

With Daniel Craig exiting the franchise after No Time To Die, the question, of course, came up of who could be the next Bond and what might he look like. And the answer is … anyone, as long as it’s a he.

Broccoli stated very clearly: “He can be of any color, but he is male. I believe we should be creating new characters for women — strong female characters. I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this (sorry, Pierce Brosnan)—not just because Broccoli is correct that we should be creating more and better original female characters, but in the sense that Bond is one of those characters that is actually defined by his gender. James Bond is the epitome of toxic masculinity.

James Bond isn’t really a character; he’s an archetype. Bond is an amalgam of stereotypes and tropes that are so hollow he can be played by a different man every generation, and it’s fine. While Daniel Craig has brought much needed-depth and gravitas to the character with his squinting, pouty angst, when you get down to it, Bond is still a womanizer whose main skill in life is killing things and looking really cool doing so.

Bond was created decades ago by Ian Flemming, and the fact that he’s such a cipher is what’s allowed him to be reinvented and reimagined so many times, as long as the movies have the right trappings: cool cars, guns, gadgets, preening villains, and of course women who are defined by their sexual availability to him—Bond girls. This was gross in the ’60s when Bond got big, but now we can actually see who Bond is: basically every action hero stereotype in a nice tux.

This isn’t to say that a Bond movie can’t be fun or entertaining, but he is a relic of the sort a woman could never be, because he exists as a person that uses his masculinity as a weapon and also lets it define him. James Bond is an idea, for sure—and an outdated one.

He’s the ideal man of an age past: He’s able to bed an assortment of women with nary an effort, he kills without remorse and keeps his feelings—when he has them—comfortably and Britishly locked up. He does fall in love once in a while, which, in his world, means giving up the double-0 life. But that woman always conveniently dies or turns out evil so he can go back to bed-hopping.

He’s everything men are told they should want to be: promiscuous, except when it comes to the right (still disposable) woman, unfeeling, violent, but smart and suave. James Bond is an aesthetic; he’s the idea of charm and class with a deeply violent and pretty misogynistic underbelly. In short, he’s the patriarchy.

So, yeah. James Bond can’t be a woman, nor should he be. I’d be very interested in a non-white Bond (my choice is Henry Golding) and to see how the style and (lack of) substance translates to someone who doesn’t operate with the help of white privilege. I’d also love a fully bisexual Bond, to be honest, after he hinted at the possibility in Skyfall. But I’m fine with Bond never being a woman.

What I’m honestly excited for is the women that will be ushering Bond into the new world in No Time To Die, including Lashana Lynch as a new double-0 agent. She’s already set up as the antithesis of the old guard as represented by Bond, and I quite like that setup. Bond—the man and the idea—needs to be confronted with a new world, and reexamined for what he is, and maybe No Time to Die will do that.

(via: Variety, image: MGM/Universal)

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Jessica Mason (she/her) is a writer based in Portland, Oregon with a focus on fandom, queer representation, and amazing women in film and television. She's a trained lawyer and opera singer as well as a mom and author.