While we are on the cusp of the premiere of an iconic, half-century-old British entertainment franchise’s gender-swapped iteration of its hero, as Jodie Whittaker grabs the reigns as the 13th actor to serve as star of Doctor Who, there’s another half-century-old British entertainment franchise, the James Bond films, that has long been speculated to make a similar move. However, an influential producer of the property, doesn’t think a female Bond would work.
“Bond is male. He’s a male character. He was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male.”
The rather straightforward declaration, given in an interview with The Guardian, comes from a source with plenty of gravitas in Barbara Broccoli, a longtime producer of the James Bond film franchise – going back to 1987 Timothy Dalton debut The Living Daylights – who also has a lineage to the franchise as the daughter of the late Albert R. Broccoli, a key producer since the film franchise’s launch with 1962’s Dr. No.
Indeed, Broccoli, who made the recent announcement that Cary Fukunaga would replace the long-attached Danny Boyle as director of the untitled Bond 25, sees the franchise as a family business of sorts. Thus, the territory comes with understanding the nature of the James Bond character, despite the changes that society has undergone since the launch of the film series. Bond, the suave, tuxedo-rocking, Martini-sipping MI6 agent, is associated with the interminable array of bizarrely-named beautiful women with whom he engages.
While the classic (often womanizing) Bond dynamic, in many cases, doesn’t translate well in today’s times, Broccoli sees this aspect – for better or worse – as an essential characteristic the Bond character. She further explains, [audiences] “reference those early movies. It was written in the 50s, so there’s certain things in [Bond’s] DNA that are probably not gonna change.”
However, lest anyone think that Broccoli is arguing that James Bond should remain in a state of arrrested development as a sexist adolescent with a license to kill, she also implies that the franchise should adapt to the changing attitudes of the world by changing the way in which the Bond character interacts with people and the world.
She elaborates: “But look at the way the world has changed. And I think Bond has come through and transformed with the times. I’ve tried to do my part, and I think particularly with the Daniel [Craig] films, they’ve become much more current in terms of the way women are viewed.”
Of course, there’s always going to be a winding road to navigate when dealing with a character that is still essentially the manifestation of a vicarious male fantasy filled with violence and wanton ribaldry that author Ian Fleming put to paper in the novels that inspired the films. This aspect is especially relevant when it comes to how these issues are approached off-camera.
Broccoli further explains: “I was allowed to – encouraged to – grow within the company and felt very supported by my father and my brother, Michael. So I always said what I thought if I didn’t like something.” Adding, “I’m acutely aware of what actors have to go through. They have to expose the most vulnerable parts of themselves. I think you have to create an environment where people feel free to experiment and not be ridiculed.”
Bond 25 (title to be revealed,) is scheduled to be to your Valentine’s Day action destination when it hits theaters on February 14, 2020.