Recently, the cinematic world has been a flurry over who will be the next bad boy in a tux. Idris Elba, Tom Hiddleston and Damian Lewis are likely possibilities, with bookies last week refusing further bets on Tom Hiddleston after a huge spike in interest. Gillian Anderson has recently been cited as a possibility, sending the twitterverse into a frenzy after she retweeted a photo of herself in front of the famous bullet hole poster. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for genderbent casting on occasions, in which a character is played by a member of the opposite sex, as it brings something broader, more interesting and enlightening to the character or story. But, Jane Bond just doesn’t fit that bill.
If James Bond were to become ‘Jane Bond’ or ‘Jamie Bond’ what would it be but a poor oversimplified adaptation in which a female character is again shoe horned into an unrelenting male world? The fundamentals of James Bond’s character, one that sleeps with a new woman in every film (or occasionally every scene, Sean Connery, I’m looking at you), is that he is impeccably well dressed, occasionally heartbroken, suave, slick, charming, and shaken and not stirred – your typically ultra-masculine lady killer/regular killer. Women can do and be all of these things, true. So what would be wrong with a woman playing this part, I hear you cry? Essentially, because it may win this battle, but fails to see that there’s a greater argument to be had here.
Why should female actresses have to resort to over-trodden male characters just to find one which holds similar complexity, prestige and respect? In the first instance, James Bond is not a particularly complex character. Recent films have attempted to emphasise his heartbreaking parentless past, to make him more likeable rather than simply a suave, overly sexed lothario. But surely there are more intricate alternatives for a female action lead? *cue ringing silence*
Furthermore, there’s always great anticipation and competition over who will be the next Bond, the new Bond for this generation, but in a kind of boys club way. The best of the best of male actors of our generation vie for the chance to play either James Bond, or the more sci-fi inclined Dr Who. There’s no female equivalent role in the action world which has the same kind of prestige. Rather than supplanting a female actor into the pre-existing male role of Bond, one that has been done time and time again, why not create an entirely new female lead in an action movie? Create a character with the same sexual appetite, ruthlessness and charm as Bond if you like, but one that also incorporates the complexities of being a woman. And not a female action figure that feels the need to lessen it’s power by apologizing for it, through over-sexualisation and leather. *cough Cat Woman, Lucy, Kill Bill cough*.
This void of complex female leads, speaks of a larger problem within the industry with only 4% of the highest grossing films between 2002-2014 having been directed by a woman. Let’s get beyond adapting women to suit a world of male agency. Jane Bond? No thanks. I’d rather an all new killer; one whose world does not revolve around the opposite sex or how to manoeuvre a jab and grab whilst being hemmed in by a ridiculously tight leather outfit. Now, that I’d pay to see.