Daniel Craig's take on a woman playing James Bond is both right and terribly wrong

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Daniel Craig attends the Royal Film Performance of  "Spectre" at Roya...
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Culture

Since No Time To Die is Daniel Craig's last outing as James Bond, there's been a lot of talk about who will succeed him as 007. The rumor mill has favored actors like Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Daniel Kaluuya and Regé-Jean Page to don the suit of the martini-loving secret agent. Six different white men have played Bond in major films since Sean Connery first portrayed him more than 50 years ago. The seventh actor to do so may infuse a bit of diversity into the franchise — just not gender-wise.

Echoing the sentiments of the Broccoli family, which maintains an "iron grip" on Bond content as arbiters, Craig said 007 shouldn't be female. Radio Times magazine asked if he'd support "a more diverse appointment as his replacement," like a person of color or a woman. He replied: "The answer to that is very simple. 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 for a woman?"

Hmm. I understand the point Craig is trying to make, but why can't it be both? On one hand, women, people of color and marginalized actors more broadly deserve better than Bond. The reason die-hard 007 fans bristle at the idea of a non-cis man playing the character is because he's an outdated, misogynistic archetype. Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond novels, once said his stories "are written for warm-blooded heterosexuals." I mean, this man also named the Bond girl in Goldfinger "Pussy Galore." He wasn't exactly an equal rights crusader.

On the other hand, with all that in mind, how does a franchise about a womanizing he-man intend to stay relevant for another half-century if it won't even entertain rethinking its regressive masculinity? Aren't we past thinking that the traits associated with Bond — sexual magnetism, athletic prowess, cunning intelligence — are inherently male? Frankly, it's hard to imagine Gen-Z giving a damn about 007 and a character their parents and grandparents idolized without some major updates.

The people behind the films don't seem inclined to push the envelope, however. Producer Barbara Broccoli told Variety that Bond "can be of any color, but he is male." Back in 2018, she said: "He was written as a male, and I think he’ll probably stay as a male. And that’s fine. We don’t have to turn male characters into women. Let’s just create more female characters and make the story fit those female characters."

Ughhh. Again, trotting out this argument for more roles for women and non-binary actors is faux feminism and misses the point. Craig and Broccoli and everyone else involved with 007 don't need to issue these edicts. Like Frank Ocean's iconic t-shirt once proclaimed, they could have just been quiet. The portrayal of Bond will either change to reflect the real world or it won't. I think viewers will have the ultimate say over what works and what doesn't, because if nobody's interested in watching movies that seem stuck in the 1960s, that'll cement Bond's future real fast.