Male protagonists of various cinematic and television franchises don’t make the most reliable romantic partners, as many of them have proven over the years. Characters like Charlie Harper, Hank Moody, Steve Stifler, and Chaz Michael Michaels are notorious womanizers and ladies’ men. Even Austin Powers, the International Man of Mystery (and a James Bond parody character), is seen as a veritable magnet for attractive women the world over. But none of them come close to James Bond himself — a spy whose suave charm transcends the actors who have played him throughout the decades. However, times change, and movie franchises tend to mirror those changes to stay relevant with the times.
The announcement of Lashana Lynch as the next 007 in the upcoming No Time to Die is a clear indicator of how far the James Bond franchise has come since Trina Parks’ iconic performance in 1971’s Diamond Are Forever, which paved the way for other African American women to enter the franchise. Even Bond girls have evolved from simple eye-candy and the protagonist’s short-term love interests into deuteragonist characters often physically and intellectually as capable as the protagonist himself. But what happens when the franchise’s protagonist is a “Bond girl” — in a more genuine sense of the term? And will Lashana Lynch’s portrayal of 007 be as iconic and ultimately capable of putting an end to the pesky “ladies’ man” trope plaguing the franchise?
Truthfully, Trina Parks’ memorable performance has echoed throughout the decades, culminating with a Black woman portraying a 007 agent. Lashana Lynch’s casting as the first Black female 007 agent in the upcoming No Time to Die was announced in 2019 and subsequently confirmed one year later. But while the confirmation is novel and a truly historical moment for African American female actors of the Bond franchise, the announcement of her casting wasn’t so well received when it leaked online one year prior.
In fact, Lashana Lynch suffered a backlash from people online who weren’t ready to see a Black woman as a 007 agent, prompting the actress to temporarily shut down her social media to cope with the knowledge that aggressive comments made online weren’t ultimately personal. Instead, they would’ve happened to any Black woman cast to play the next 007 agent — something revolutionary and previously unheard of. Unfortunately, most of those comments were made due to the fact that the franchise fandom never disassociated codename 007 from the character of James Bond. And why would they — one has become the synonym for the other. And therein precisely lies the very heart of the problem.
As described in Ian Flemming’s James Bond novels, a 00 (“double O”) is any field agent who holds a license to kill during the course of an assignment, at their own discretion. As such, a 007 is more of a designated codename of an operative within the 00 Section of MI6 who is still in active service. This disassociation between Bond and codename 007 ultimately allowed co-screenwriter Phoebe Waller-Bridge to incorporate Lashana Lynch’s character, Nomi, as the new 007, given that Daniel Craig’s James Bond is no longer in active service in the upcoming film. And while Lynch’s addition to the cast clearly shows a degree of cultural integration, many fans were disappointed with the fact that Lynch won’t play a Black female Bond — another controversial topic when it comes to a male-focused franchise.
According to Barbara Broccoli, the woman helming the world’s most famous spy franchise, James Bond will never be female. Broccoli states that she’s open for diversification of the franchise but draws the line at a female Bond. Despite whatever color he might be, James Bond is ultimately male. However, Broccoli also acknowledged that strong female characters significantly benefit the franchise, and having a female 007 who is as capable as Bond makes things infinitely more interesting. With that said, Broccoli has no interest in taking an established male character and having a woman play it, regardless of ethnicity.
So, while, the initial rumors of Lashana Lynch succeeding Daniel Craig as a 007 agent were ultimately true, the fandom’s assumptions of Lynch being the new Bond have ultimately proved incorrect. Moreover, the upcoming film’s trailer clearly depicts Daniel Craig in his final performance as the franchise’s lead, also indicating that Lynch isn’t, and probably won’t be, the next Bond of the franchise. Thanks to the distinction between the job title and the character, the next 007 likely won’t be the franchise’s typical libido-driven “ladies’ man” whose in-field competence often has seemed to be measured more by the size of his Golden Gun (pun intended) than by the context of his spying.