SPOILER WARNING- This article discusses aspects of Spectre, including the ending.
With Spectre showing in theatres in most of the world, speculation immediately turned to the next James Bond film. Some fans remain hopeful that Daniel Craig will return while the ending of the film makes that seem unlikely. Others call for changes to the character. After more than fifty years on the big screen, is it necessary to alter the predominant super spy? How would that affect the story?
James Bond is traditionally an orphan without any family, just like Bruce Wayne, Harry Potter, the cinematic Jason Bourne or Tony Stark. Those characteristics are so common that it could easily lead to wondering how to change things up. What about if James had a cousin? What about if he had an over-achieving little sister?
However, there are several reasons why that won’t happen. Let’s mention the purists once and never again for the rest of the column. While not biologically related, James Bond, as played by Daniel Craig, does have family. M (Judi Dench) was very much his maternal figure and M (Ralph Fiennes) is like a proud uncle who admits that his grey hairs are all your fault. Tanner (Rory Kinnear), Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) and Q (Ben Whishaw) all play the sibling roles. They’re supportive of him with everything they have but they’re also not afraid to call him out on his shit. Yet, at the end of Spectre, Bond chooses to leave them behind to pursue a new life with Dr. Swann (Lea Seydoux). Could it be that his found family at work was actually keeping him from creating a new one with the right woman?
Spectre also explored the idea of a pseudo-brother with Bond and the harsh repercussions of compounded, extreme jealousy. With Blofeld still alive and just a prison break away from being a free man, it’s doubtful they would explore a more positive sibling relationship with Bond.
James Bond was married once. Tracy Bond (Diana Rigg) was traveling away from the church with her new husband when Blofeld mowed her down in a drive-by. Who knew the quiet English countryside could sound like the setting for a 50 Cent song?
Of course, with Blofeld relevant in the films again, they could choose to have him murder Dr. Swann but that would ruin Craig’s Bond’s happy ending. There will be a new Bond who could have a new mythology. However, traditional thinking still reigns at film studios: men can’t be subjected to too much kissing unless female nudity is involved and women need to think males are unattached enough that they would have a shot at them. Married characters are also frowned upon because they are assumed to be boring unless she’s being kidnapped, they’re getting a divorce or they just found out they’re both secretly a hit man. None of this is expected to change any time soon.
Obviously, Bond can’t be a lesbian without being female which will be discussed below. A homosexual Bond would work for homosexual men and most heterosexual women but while How to Get Away with Murder can get away with scenes that resemble gay porn, studios still feel that heterosexual men won’t pay twenty bucks to see a male action hero make out with other men. Former Bond Pierce Brosnan said in an interview that ” I don’t think Barbara (Broccoli, long-time Bond producer) would allow a gay Bond to happen in her lifetime.”
Bisexual would be the most plausible if they went that route. Have you seen the sheer numbers of James Bond slashfic? Of course, pairing two males together for fanfiction is extremely popular. Fanfiction about two males in a relationship outnumber any other kind of pairing, including heterosexual. Many audience members took a scene in Skyfall to confirm Bond’s bisexuality. Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) caresses Bond’s thigh, taunting, “There’s always a first time…”
“What makes you think this is my first time?” Bond retorts. Many took this to mean that Bond had been with men before but screenwriter John Logan insists that the only motivation was “what would truly make the audience uncomfortable is sexual intimidation” so they played the “homoerotic card”. Considering it was done to “make the audience uncomfortable”, that’s not a good sign of progress either.
A transgender James Bond is impossible at the moment. Even Daniel Craig has said, “let’s not forget that he’s actually a misogynist”. It seems highly unlikely that Bond would treat females that badly while secretly yearning to be one. While it is possible to have a self loathing complex at work, Bond has enough problems with his need for approval from parental figures and his lack of concern for personal safety that almost resembles a death wish. A Bond that has transitioned from a female to a male is more plausible but their portrayal in the media is almost non-existent. There have been less than twenty examples since media was invented. About Ray was supposed to be a major release about a female teenager (Elle Fanning) transitioning into a male but even starring Fanning, Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon, it was pulled from release just months ago and hasn’t been given a new date. If the Weinsteins don’t have faith in a small budget film succeeding, there’s no way the movie studios would allow James Bond to be transgender.
Questioning would not be done justice in a film more concerned with action and intrigue. Could Bond be an Asexual? Maybe he was Asexual all along, using sex as a weapon and being such a good actor that no one noticed. Still, that would be too complicated as well.
Positive portrayals of individuals with different abilities or body types are lacking in the media. Even Katniss Everdeen’s deafness and Peeta Mellark’s amputated leg were both ignored when the novel was adapted into The Hunger Games film. It seems unlikely that James Bond would ever be allowed to have physical challenges but Bond does suffer from PTSD. It would be hard in his line of work not to have issues but Craig’s Bond was the first to show the emotional scars from everything done to him and everything he’s done to everyone else. Hopefully, this aspect will be kept in the future.
The problem with a female James Bond is deciding the core components of James Bond. Anyone can be a British secret agent who was orphaned at early age, excels with weapons and suffers from PTSD but what about the alcoholism, misogyny and constant sex? Would the misogyny be inverted so that Jane Bond casually used and disposed of men without a thought? However, when that usually happens, like in Basic Instinct, Monster or Trainwreck, they’re either portrayed as a villain or forced to change their ways. In men, alcoholism, smoking and sexual prowess are seen as masculine and/or interesting character aspects. If a female has any of those characteristics, it’s not seen as “cute” and they’re turned into problems with negative consequences. Unless this could be overcome or fundamentals of Bond’s character change, a female Bond could never work.
However, there will be several years between Bond films as they transition from Daniel Craig to whoever they cast next. In that time, they should follow Bourne Legacy’s lead and have a side story with the same characters. Make Moneypenny, Q and Tanner have to work with a different agent. Even better would be forcing Moneypenny and Q into the field especially when Harris describes her character as “she doesn’t have the stomach for killing people”. This could be perfect for trying something new like a female lead, foreign agent or a male agent who’s not Caucasian.
James Bond is British. The same could be asked of the Doctor; could he be anything but British and still be accepted as the Doctor? J.K. Rowling insisted on British actors for all the main roles in the Harry Potter film adaptations. It’s doubtful that audiences would accept any other nationality.
Not so Caucasian?
The internet has been pushing for Idris Elba to be the next Bond. Broccoli was asked about it earlier this year saying, “I’m a huge fan of Idris — we all are. He’s a great actor, and he could do anything.” Will that lead to his being cast? There are no answers yet but African descent isn’t the only racial or ethnic option that Britain offers. In fact, ethnic minorities make up 80% of the United Kingdom’s population growth. The five biggest groups are Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black African and Black Caribbean. Any of those could provide an excellent choice for the next Bond.
In the meantime, David Oyelowo is the voice of James Bond in the audiobook for the latest novel, Trigger Mortis.
Franklin (Marelik Walker) is an important character in The Peanuts Movie. He’s featured in the cast pictures, including the one on McDonalds’ Happy meal site so why isn’t he one of the 12 different toys offered inside the Happy Meal? It’s not that the toys were restricted to the Browns or van Pelts. Peppermint Patty and Schroeder both get their own toys. McDonalds hasn’t featured anyone of color in a Happy Meal since the March 2015 Barbie set. While the boxes for Home featured Tip, she wasn’t included as a toy inside. Why is McDonalds so reluctant to have toys featuring those with darker skin?
Today is a the release of Phoenix from the Ashes: Poetry from Personal Struggle, Rebirth & Triumph by Helena Lancaster. The young author is a survivor of abuse who still struggles with PTSD and writes poetry as part of her therapy. The poems are powerful so order a copy for yourself or request it from your local library.
In the next column…
Is Undertale just a game or is it a teaching tool for tolerance and understanding disguised as a game?