Lashana Lynch can do anything! To find out more about her role as the latest 007, read on!
In the 1995 GOLDENEYE starring Judi Dench as the illustrious M and Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, M tells Bond:
“I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War…”
We could add a few terms to M’s list: racist, bloodthirsty, even – dare I say it? – boring. What’s shocking about M’s statement is that basically everyone can see that she is right. And yet the franchise has been incredibly lucrative, grossing over $16 billion, with no signs of slowing down.
As if in support of M’s observation, right wing commentator Ben Shapiro recently opined that “Bond is about guns and girls.” Moreover, he added, a woman in the role of Bond would be unbelievable.
Unsurprisingly, declaring that Bond is a celebration of misogyny and violence doesn’t inspire a lot of faith in the series’ potential to become a beacon of intersectional feminist values. However, it seems that the franchise is looking to move out of the Jurassic era, with or without Ben Shapiro’s approval. In an exciting attempt to update the “dinosaur,” it was recently revealed that Codename 007 has been reassigned. For the 25th installment currently titled BOND 25, 007 is a woman of color, slated to be played by CAPTAIN MARVEL actress Lashana Lynch!
Lashana Lynch: License to Save 007?
To many, myself included, the reported casting felt optimistic, celebrating James Bond’s apparent growth in an era of rampant misogyny and racism. Casting and representing women of color as real and powerful characters is critically important. Indeed, Disney’s recent decision to cast Halle Bailey as Ariel in THE LITTLE MERMAID reboot, as well as shows like POSE, are steps in the right direction. People of color are people, and as such must be represented in our media. If James Bond is going to move away from the series’ history of misogyny and racism, what better approach than to shift the character to a powerful new embodiment of MI6’s favorite spy?
Unfortunately, it seems the franchise is stopping short of a real change. While Lynch plays 007, Daniel Craig will, yet again, portray James Bond. The plot is likely to follow Lynch on her errand to bring Bond out of retirement.
The franchise’s decision to cast Lynch as 007 but not as the replacement for Bond feels like a baiting. As Noah Bertlasky writes in his piece for the Guardian, “it sounds as if the white, male Bond is still considered the best of the best, with Lynch relegated to a supporting role.” And this is a disappointment to audiences who want to see an updated and less problematic Bond.
Overcoming a History of Misogyny and Racism
Let’s face it, Bond’s history isn’t particularly progressive. Indeed, the series has done everything from turning a (problematically written) lesbian character straight to putting Sean Connery in racist yellow face (cringe through YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE). Ultimately, the series hinges on Ian Fleming’s dull, womanizing character from the 1953 novel.
Somehow, many male audiences see Bond as a role model. Bond has always been a man’s man. White men emulate his “suave” demeanor, stealing his (corny and bad drink producing) “shaken, not stirred” line and “Bond, James Bond” introduction whenever possible. Writer Benjamin Winterhalter expresses concern about culturally idolizing Bond and ignoring Fleming’s 1950’s approach to masculinity. The author writes,
[T]he core-defining characteristic of James Bond, the character’s psychological route to total apathy, is vicious misogyny.
Indeed, Winterhalter notes that Bond is apathetic, embodying emotionless masculinity. On the 2006 CASINO ROYALE, Winterhalter notes,
The attempts at re-branding conceal the series’ fundamental denial of women’s agency.
While Bond, apathetic and masculine, freely reigns over the franchise, sexually assaulting women and perpetuating racist mythology, female characters must accept their position as sexualized objects. Hopefully, however, BOND 25 will be more than a re-brand.
The End of Bond Girls: the Dawn of a New 007?
While we can speculate about the possible let downs of the BOND 25 film, we should still be excited. Craig himself acknowledges Bonds problematic behaviors and values. The new film could be a step towards giving women agency — as long as BOND 25 avoids turning Lynch into a “Bond Girl” type character. (Please note: none of the so-called “Bond Girls” were actually “girls,” but rather adult women, infantilized for the benefit of male sexual fantasy. Hopefully the days of Bond Girls are over!).
The fact that so many people were thrilled to hear the news of 007 being assigned to a woman of color is the best take away. Some audiences may have concerns about Bond’s future, but many people want to see a woman take on the role. And hopefully, BOND 25 will find a way to honor the new 007 and phase out the dinosaur.