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Why James Bond Should Always Be Played by a Man


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Ever since Daniel Craig's infamous "I'd rather slash my wrists" response to being asked if he would play illustrious superspy James Bond in another movie after Spectre, speculation has run wild as to who might take over the mantle of one the most iconic roles in action cinema.

Skyfall Bond

Craig isn't officially out of the running - despite the bluntness of the quote, he makes it clear in the full interview that he just wants to take a break from the franchise for a bit and that he honestly doesn't know if he will be back - but whether he does one more movie or not, odds are a new actor will step into the role by the end of the decade. 

Last May, Gillian Anderson took to Twitter to annouce that she'd be happy to play 'Jane' Bond, prompting all manner of responses to the idea of a female James Bond. Here's why that's not a good idea, or to put it more bluntly, here's why James Bond should always be a man.

It's not because of nonsensical reasons like "it wasn't what Ian Fleming intended" or "women can't do the kinds of things James Bond does" - in over 50 years and 24 movies, the 007 franchise has gone through a lot of iterations and overhauls that I'm sure Fleming hadn't even considered, and most of the time, Bond does things no human being should be physically capable of doing without either dying or suffering severe injuries. So it doesn't really matter if it's a man or woman. 

The reason is pretty simple and straightforward - over the years, whether he was intended to be one or not, James Bond has been moulded into one of the definitive male power fantasies of popular culture. The cars, the gadgets, the Martinis, the impecabble dresswear - everything about 007 that makes him instantly recognisable and so memorable is there to blatantly stroke the male ego. He's a serial womaniser and a coldly efficient killer; sex and violence is his bread and butter. 

You could argue that that idea of James Bond is decidedly old-fashioned or even antiquated; that a female 007 could reinvigorate what has become a stale and formulaic male fantasy figure. That's a perfectly valid point, which I would counter by saying that maybe it's OK for James Bond to get left behind. 

Goldeneye Bond

Dame Judi Dench's M straight up calls Pierce Brosnan's 007 a "sexist, misogynist dinosaur" and a "relic of the Cold War" in their first meeting in Goldeneye. That was true in 1995 and it's true today. I don't think it's controversial to say that James Bond is old. The Daniel Craig era brought 007 to the modern age by taking cues from the Bourne movies, but the later entries, like Skyfall and Spectre, abandoned the streamlined, gritty approach and wholeheartedly embraced nostalgia for the past. Hell, Bond's main character arc in Skyfall is coming to terms with his age and trying to prove he's still got it. Ralph Fiennes pointedly tells him that this is a "young man's game". 

It's not that it's impossible to reinvent James Bond and break the mould the franchise has lovingly built for itself over the course of more than 50 years - the question is, it is necessary? Why not let the character remain a curious anachronism that struggles to find a place in a world that's rapidly leaving him behind?

Instead of trying to reclaim the past, why not look forwards, to the future? Create new female spy characters that have a clean slate and don't have to deal with Bond's baggage or his legacy. While Tom Cruise's Ethan Hunt is still the main draw of the Mission: Impossible movies, the last two entries in the series saw the introduction of spies played by Paula Patton and Rebecca Ferguson that were both capable badasses and weren't love interests for the male heroes. This year will see the release of Atomic Blonde, a spy action thriller starring Charlize Theron. Plus, if we're really lucky, we might see a Black Widow movie by the end of the century.

Mad Max Furiosa

Within the James Bond franchise, you could have female 00s working alongside Bond, or even doublecross him like Sean Bean's 006 did in Goldeneye. Mad Max: Fury Road, while not a spy movie, is the template of how you can introduce a phenomenally badass female hero that exists alongside a longstanding male protanist without being overshadowed by him. Furiosa was such a great character, many agree she's more of a star than Max himself. 

In the same way that Lara Croft is commonly seen as the female Indiana Jones while also being a fully fleshed out separate character, 'Jane Bond' should be someone new, different and distinct. The part of James Bond should always be played by a man, but 007 doesn't own a monopoly on being a badass superspy, or a badass in general. 

A female Bond is certainly something glass ceilings have nightmares about, but it's this writer's opinion that there are better, smarter and more exciting breakthroughs to be had when it comes to female-led action movie and franchises. 

The currently untitled Bond 25 is in development. 

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