No Time to Die is, at long last, just around the corner, hitting theaters in the UK on September 30, and globally on October 8. The film is confirmed to be Daniel Craig’s last as 007, which leaves a James Bond-sized hole in the future of the franchise.
But after years of shirking attempts to pry a preferred successor from his lips, Craig himself has now weighed in on the question of Bond’s gender, at least.
“The answer to that is very simple,” he told RadioTimes. “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?”
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Craig’s comments echo those of Bond custodian Barbara Broccoli – heir to original franchise producer Albert R. Broccoli – who told Variety back in 2020 that she believes “James Bond can be of any color, but he is male,” adding that “we should be creating new characters for women – strong female characters… I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it. I think women are far more interesting than that.”
We already know that Lashana Lynch will be taking up the 007 codename in No Time to Die – we spoke to the British actress ahead of the film’s proposed April release last year – but her character, obviously, isn’t Bond, and isn't intended to be the new Bond either.
The question of Craig’s successor, then, is still a topic of debate, and one only set to intensify as No Time to Die hits theaters in the next month.
The likes of Idris Elba, Michael Fassbender and Damien Lewis have long been touted as capable of stepping into the role, but Craig’s unexpected decision to continue as Bond after 2015’s Spectre has meant that all three, for want of a kinder way to put it, are perhaps too old – nay, experienced – to slip into the suit with enough verve to reinvigorate the franchise.
In 2021, there’s less a frontrunner and more a healthy selection of capable leading men, all of whom have flirted with the possibility of becoming Bond. Robert Pattinson, Regé-Jean Page, James Norton, Sam Heughan and Richard Madden all seem likely candidates, while Tom Hardy, too, continues to occupy the rumor mill.
It’s unlikely that we’ll hear news of a new Bond in 2021, though. Broccoli recently told Total Film that “it’s tough to think about the future until [No Time to Die] has its moment," adding that "I think we just really want to celebrate this and celebrate Daniel, and then when the dust settles, then look at the landscape and figure out what the future is.”
Analysis: By the book
Given both Craig and Broccoli’s opinions on Bond’s gender, it’s safe to assume that the next iteration of the iconic super-spy will indeed be a man.
The subject of Bond’s pliability as a character is a tricky one to navigate, though. As an individual, 007 and his characteristics have clear, traceable origins in the novels of Ian Fleming, which is often the argument purported by those who express a preference for James Bond staying as, well, James Bond.
But the franchise has already shown a willingness to divert from its source material. M became a woman (Judi Dench) for the first time in 2006’s Casino Royale, for instance, and Bond movies as a whole have changed dramatically – in both tone and subject matter – throughout the years. Change is ultimately necessary to keep such an old character relevant, after all.
We've seen women play roles traditionally occupied by British men in other parts of the media, too. The most famous is Jodie Whittaker’s soon-to-end stint as the first-ever female Doctor Who, while Lucy Liu was also excellent as Dr Watson in CBS’ Sherlock Holmes adaptation, Elementary.
The point being, there’s certainly precedent for Broccoli and co to deliver a female version of Bond. Given that Craig’s run as 007 is now the longest in the franchise’s history, though, it’s likely that seeing a new, fresh-faced male actor take up the mantle in the coming years will be change enough for most.
Those calls for better original female characters are, then, more valid than ever – but it’s easy to claim something as necessary, and less easy to manifest its existence.
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