By Lara Holly Gibbs, MA Gender Studies
The much awaited ‘No Time To Die’ finally graced cinema screens this month. Bond may not have time to die, yet the question remains, does he have time for sexism and misogyny? Historically speaking, yes. We have seen Bond’s countless instances of disrespect and questionable ideas of consent, only to cast aside one Bond girl for the next.
No Time To Die begins with Bond on his retirement, with Madeleine Swann as the first Bond girl to return as his continued love interest. But when forced back into action, we encounter undeniably strong female characters. We are continuously fed badass female action throughout, portrayed as the authors of their own story and multifaceted characters. We go on to see Madeleine Swann as a fiercely protective mother, as we delve further into her story. Lashana Lynch is cast as the first female and person of colour to play 007. More than a match for Craig’s persona, her sharp wit and, with what Lynch herself describes as ‘skilful, swift and suave,’ surely captures our attention. Another character, Paloma, makes a short yet striking appearance. Far from the image of a damsel in distress, which has been relayed to us tirelessly, Paloma kicks ass whilst wearing stilettos.
The earlier days of Bond were nothing short of highly sexist. Sean Connery’s portrayal seemingly disregards all consent, while Bond is still perceived as the hero who saves the day. At that time, consent was not exactly a hot topic, and the lack thereof was accepted as the norm. In fact, that familiar misogyny we relate to James Bond existed until quite recently. A compilation of Bond’s most misogynistic moments went viral in 2018, largely featuring Sean Connery, yet Daniel Craig is not innocent either. The last moments of the viral video featured Craig in Skyfall and his relationship to the character Sévérine, a former sex slave. Many criticised Bond’s coming onto Sévérine as more emblematic of the franchise’s objectification of women.
The franchise has been forced to realise its misogynistic tropes will no longer be accepted
However, to my surprise, No Time to Die seems to have a different air about it. Perhaps this is down to Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s witty and apt writing intervention. Since the release of the last Bond movie, Spectre, we have seen the #MeToo movement bring society to a reckoning with sexism. The franchise has been forced to realise its misogynistic tropes will no longer be accepted.
The future of the franchise is unclear. With Bond killed at the end of No Time to Die, how will it be continued? Perhaps Lashana Lynch will take a more permanent role as 007? While Ian Fleming’s character remains a fantasy, with feminist writers like Phoebe Waller-Bridge on board, we can only hope Bond’s character continues to breakout of its long existing misogynistic narratives.
Caption: No Time To Die female cast (from left) Lea Seydoux, Ana De Armas, Naomie Harris, and Lashana Lynch at the production launch at GoldenEye, Jamaica. (Credit: TPG News/Click Photos; UIP)