Men and women are different, it doesn’t take a biologist to know that. With that in mind, what are we supposed to expect out of a female James Bond, when she would be endlessly compared to the original, that has existed for nearly 80 years?
Daniel Craig – widely known for his role as James Bond as of the mid 2000s – has come under fire on the internet for saying that James Bond shouldn’t be a woman.
Craig also said, “There should simply be better parts for women and actors of color. Why should a woman play James Bond when there should be a part just as good as James Bond, but for a woman?”
The thing is, he’s right.
The Legacy of James Bond
What do you think when you hear “James Bond”? For me, personally, I think of Agent 007 – a man who’s ruthless, who can get the job done. He’s cunning, brave, resourceful, and a symbol of traditional masculinity.
The character has been around since about 1953, and his creator, Ian Fleming, based him on real men in his life, particularly his older brother Peter. “Ian idolized his dashing older brother – handsome, cosmopolitan, patriotic, fearless, and a dead shot with a pistol – and later used him as one of the models for James Bond.”
Changing James Bond into a woman is like changing Wonder Woman to Wonder Man, King of the Amazons.
If James Bond is based, at least in some part, on real, actual men who lived and died and embodied certain characteristics of the character, then to change it fundamentally to be a woman would be to minimize the experiences and characteristics that men of Fleming’s era experienced.
Even if we just take the title, Agent 007, and make it so that the title suddenly belongs to a woman, that severely alters the character’s legacy. That was James Bond’s number, the two are so closely related it may as well be one and the same. Unless James Bond remains the same and merely starts identifying as a woman, there’s a fundamental change there. It’s like having Black Widow, a feared and respected former KGB agent turned superheroine, be portrayed as a man. Or like changing Wonder Woman to Wonder Man, King of the Amazons (though that especially doesn’t make sense).
We Should Want More out of Female Leads
There’s a trend lately, where a famous male character is depicted as female, and we call that empowering and inspirational. We’ve seen this with the female Ghostbusters reboot and female Thor. But it’s a lazy cop-out of putting in any actual effort to imagine a new character who’s the embodiment of femininity: beautiful, smart, and cunning with a backstory of her own. The so-called progressives can’t imagine a female character who can be successful without needing to be associated with a famous male character.
It’s astounding how that’s so difficult to do now when it was done centuries ago, and several times over. For example, Jane Austen featured many prominent female protagonists who were renowned for their kindness, wit, cleverness, or intelligence. They didn’t have to be like men, they were distinctly themselves – women. They were powerful, lovable, and memorable enough just like that.
Women deserve their own original stories, not just reboots of a famous male character’s story.
While of course, not all women want a cottage-core dream that’s embodied in Austen-style protagonists, many women in history used their femininity as a power, not just some status symbol to boost woke points. Mata Hari was a spy for France during World War I, regarded as using her sexuality for espionage, in a way that would be harder for men to pull off. Jane Goodall famously brought awareness to wildlife conservation and protection, and it was through her intelligence and dedication, as well as her kindness and empathy. The legend of Mulan details the story of a girl who fought a war, at the risk of her own life, out of love for her father.
There are traits that are special and unique to women that are severely under-represented in popular media these days. Instead of characters reflecting those, it’s good enough, supposedly, to take a male character and make him female. And we’re supposed to regard that as groundbreaking.
Many boys grew up looking up to James Bond, and the character’s legacy lives on in their minds and hearts. Frankly, for many girls as well. To say “we need to change this character so that girls will feel a connection” is insulting to them. Girls don’t need a mirror, to see someone who looks exactly like them who possesses good character traits or who exhibits good or admirable behavior.
Instead of swapping the gender of characters in the name of equality or justice, we should take the time, care, and effort to make a new original character, who doesn’t just get handed the fame and recognition of a decades-old established character and inevitably is called a Mary-Sue for it.
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