Who will be the next James Bond? It’s not yet known, although the rumor mill keeps cranking over the identity of the next 007. We are told, however, that contrary to some suggestion, it will not be a woman taking the role. The producers have left it open that it could be a man of any color, which is a positive step in screen representation. It also widens the field of great actors, meaning we could have anyone from Tom Hardy to Idris Elba to Regé-Jean Page as Bond.
While the producers will undoubtedly pick someone worthy, it might feel like a teensy bit of a lost opportunity by not giving the role to a woman. To some, that comment might sound controversial, but it’s not meant to be. And the crux of our argument is not to give it to a woman so a box can be ticked in terms of diversity exercises, but because a female actor could do something unique and interesting with the role.
A powerhouse like Cate Blanchett would own the role
If Hardy or Elba agreed to do the role, both of those actors would bring something special to the screen. But if someone like Cate Blanchett was to do it , it might be extraordinary. Blanchett is one of many female actors who could ‘own’ the role of Bond, and she springs to mind due to her screen presence and ability to capture the essence of a character. But we won’t spend too much time on speculating on won would suit the role; rather, to ask why it would be worthwhile having a female James Bond.
Gender swapping is, of course, not uncommon in modern Hollywood. We have seen it with Ghostbusters, Oceans 8, Splash, and countless other movies. Indeed, we can even point to attempts to gender-swap James Bond already in the Agent Jane Blonde video slot game. Perhaps one of the best-known gender swaps was in Doctor Who, which saw Jodie Whittaker become the 13th Doctor, and the first woman in the role. They have had varied successes, but it often becomes difficult to sift out the critiques because of the emotional reaction from audiences. Whether a gender swap movie is good or bad, some people will want to hate it before it is released.
Whittaker showed it can be done
Whittaker’s role as The Doctor is, for our money, a good example of how to do it well. Whittaker was allowed to bring her own personality to the iconic role. It wasn’t as if it Whittaker had to scream every few scenes, “Look, it’s a woman Doctor!”. She simply ‘owned’ the character from the first scene. It gave something different to Doctor Who fans, and it was a glass-ceiling moment in television that could easily be repeated on the big screen.
Bond, of course, is a little more tied to his gender than a time-hopping alien being like The Doctor. But if someone so engrained with male portrayals as The Doctor, why not Bond? Indeed, we should point out that Doctor Who first hit our screens sixty years ago, and Connery’s James Bond made his debut with Dr No a year earlier.
In the end, the danger lies in finding no good reason for casting a female actor as Bond. Some of the gender swap movies we mentioned earlier seemed to be made because the producers felt that some sort of gravitas would be gained by it, not that they had an interesting story to tell beyond the gender reversal. But someone could make a compelling Bond with a woman in the titular role, and it might be more interesting than anything a make could do.
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