Dubai Diaries: Is the world prepared for Jane Bond?
'No Time to Die' leaves you curious about the next Bond.
Is it really over? It’s not and you know it while watching No Time To Die at the theatres. But the very fact that the film marks Daniel Craig’s last outing as James Bond does leave you nostalgic and even curious about who will be stepping into the shoes that were so competently worn by Craig.
When I was growing up in the nineties, Bond was synonymous with Pierce Brosnan — he became the definitive idea of what an impossibly daring and charming secret agent could look like. It wasn’t until I watched Sean Connery that I realised the template for the character’s popularity had already been set.
But be it Connery, Roger Moore or Brosnan, the sensibility and the lines on which the character was written had always remained similar. When Craig stepped in, he brought in an intensity to the role, even if critics complained that he made Bond a tad humourless. But the actor embodied the role in such a way that the character became a man who was not simply in conflict with the world outside, but also with himself.
The new world order is all about revisionism, which is why perhaps many feel it is important to go back to the old narratives and give them a contemporary spin. Which is why in recent years, a case has been made for a Jane Bond.
Right before the release of No Time To Die, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said, “I don’t have a favourite Bond, but I do think it is time for a female Bond.” While the producer of the film Barbara Broccoli has said that the character will remain a male, not everyone is quite happy with the announcement either.
I have been thinking about the prospect of a female Bond. Despite my allegiances to feminism, I can’t wrap my head around a female Bond. And that may have something to do with the very notion that all narratives — the old as well as the new — need to be injected with sensibilities that seem politically right. Why can’t there be fresh narratives that don’t need this invasion?
Moreover, for many of us, watching Bond films is also about living with a legacy. The idea of an invincible man saving the world may not be fodder for thinking mind, but it is an escape into a fantasy. By demanding that we should have politically correct fantasies too, are we not being ostriches in our own way.
Of course, there was an all-female cast Ghostbusters that sought to follow up on Bill Murray’s 1984 classic, but that was a standalone film. With Bond films come the legacy of nearly six decades.
While I have always preferred to watch the films, I remember finding myself studying From Russia, With Love as part of a paper on popular fiction. Looking closely at the character, you realise that it is as much a celebration of alpha male as it is a debunking of that myth.
Fleming’s novels addressed changing social realities during the Cold War, while looked at the country’s own legacy through nostalgia. James Bond was born out of this context. Neither the novels nor its protagonists were to hold an objective light to the political or social milieu of the time.
Over the years, the character’s journey may have become more internal but the aforementioned ethos is what gives the Bond franchise a distinct quality. And while heaven will not fall on earth even if the next James Bond is a woman, updating the narrative to keep up with wokeism could be an exercise in futility.