What Should We Expect From Bond 25's Female 007?
The question of whether 007 could ever be played by a woman might finally have its answer, with reports that actress Lashana Lynch will take on the coveted status in forthcoming Bond 25, playing a character called Nomi.
As reported by The Guardian, "The 25th film opens with Bond (Craig), retired in Jamaica, being called back to action to fight a new villain."
"There is a pivotal scene at the start of the film where M says, “Come in 007”, and in walks Lashana who is black, beautiful, and a woman. It’s a popcorn-dropping moment. Bond is still Bond but he’s been replaced as 007."
The question of whether Bond would in the future be played by an actor of a different race or gender has dogged the franchise for years, with many suggesting it needed to adapt in order to keep up with the diversifying film industry.
The Cary Fukunaga directed instalment - quite possibly named, A Reason To Die—will be fronted by Daniel Craig, for what is believed to be his last outing as the suited secret agent. However, comments from executive producer Barbara Broccoli that, "[Bond] was written as a male and I think he’ll probably stay as a male," felt fairly conclusive proof that we wouldn't be seeing a female 007 any time soon.
If reports are to be believed, Ian Fleming's franchise may well have cleverly skirted the debate over Bond's identity while still elevating a black female to his agent status. It's a move that, if done well, could help usher the franchise into a new era without undoing its past, A new 007 allows the character to forge a new path instead of them having to atone for past Bonds.
While Phoebe Waller-Bridge modestly claimed she was not writing the script but instead had been called into to "liven" it up, the news of a surprise female 007 has her fingerprints all over it, and is reportedly one of her additions to the screenplay.
Speaking to Deadline in May, Waller-Bridge spoke of how she was excited to make the female characters "feel like real people", explaining that, "as an actress, I very rarely had that feeling early in my career. That brings me much pleasure, knowing that I'm giving that to an actress."
Waller-Bridge wrote Fleabag in response to the dearth of interesting roles she was being offered, and it was the success of that show which lead to her adapting the script for BBC America production Killing Eve.
Both shows have been praised for their deep dives into the female psyche, traversing the muddied waters of sex, friendship, romance and family, both told while constantly flipping the switch between comedy and drama.
The opening scene described has all the hallmarks of her writing, playing with our expectations of gender and power as she did with sexually transgressive Fleabag and the female on female cat-and-mouse chase of Killing Eve, as well as delivering plot-twist moments with comic irony.
The report also suggests Bond will try to seduce Nomi, but she will resist his advances. While James Bond has been initially refused by some of the women he tries to seduce, he usually ends up charming them into submission. Whether it was the Sexy Priest's resistance of Fleabag, or the sexualised obsession between Eve and Villanelle, skewering the traditional power dynamics in relationships is a speciality of Waller-Bridge's.
While this is all good news for the women of Bond 25, will this mean James himself gets the feminist treatment in the script and start penning letters to the women's he's underestimated? Perhaps not, according to the same Deadline interview, in which she said, "The important thing is that the film treats the women properly. He doesn't have to. He needs to be true to this character."
Still, with Waller-Bridge's interest in flawed and imperfect female characters, it seems unlikely she'll use Nomi as a way to remonstrate James Bond, but rather tip the scales in order to finally give him a worthy rival of the opposite sex.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.