Will the next James Bond be a Jane instead? Last week, X-Files star Gillian Anderson caused a stir online when she tweeted a fan-made image of herself on a 007 poster with the caption, ‘It’s Bond. Jane Bond’. At a time when gender equality has become a hot-button topic, conjecture over whether a woman could ever play the iconic secret agent role has arisen.
Following the news that Daniel Craig is unlikely to return to the black suit, speculation over who will be the next James Bond has been running wild. While Avengers and Thor star Tom Hiddleston is front-runner for the role, there has been rising public support for a woman to don the suit.
A petition called #GillianforBond has received almost 160,000 signatures calling for Anderson to be given the role. There’s even a fan trailer for a ‘new film’ starring Anderson (see below). The names of Emily Blunt, Rosamund Pike and even Angelina Jolie have also been thrown around.
However, excited as some are to see a gender-bending of the role, many people are dismayed by the prospect, with naysayers tweeting in response to Anderson, claiming the change would “ruin” the franchise.
Why does feminism come an try ruin everything, not every film franchise has to change cos of it, a female James Bond wouldn’t work
— Dylan (@dylrobbo9) May 19, 2016
Why not just make another film franchise with a female spy in the lead role? See how it does. https://t.co/ynEuzPILMv
— Alex Murray (@AlexRJMurray) May 19, 2016
It might come as a surprise to learn that, when it comes to sci-fi, fantasy and action, women are writing and starring in the most popular stories, from Ripley in Alien (1979) and Sarah Connor in Terminator (1984) to Sydney Bristow in Alias (2001) and Imperator Furiosa in the highly successful 2015 reboot of Mad Max. And let’s not forget the soon-to-be-released all-women Ghostbusters movie.
And this enhanced role of women isn’t just confined to film. Women also make up the highest-selling authors of sci-fi and fantasy. Making headlines last week, women swept the 2015 Nebula Awards in the categories of Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story and Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy work.
So why is there so much resistance to Gillian Anderson (or any woman) being cast as Bond? Are people afraid that the franchise will lose its edge? And precisely what edge would that be? The humour and wit, the shoot-outs and car chases? But women are funny, smart and dangerous too. Also, contrary to the tired stereotype, women can drive an Aston Martin at 200km per hour off the edge of a cliff and land precisely onto a waiting aircraft carrier in the middle of the ocean, just as well as the men in their lives.
There was even a book written in 1992 titled Men, Women and Chainsaws by Carol Clover, which considered the way that men relate more strongly to empowerment narratives featuring female characters. So if this is about boys not having their beloved hyper-masculine idol to turn to, the point is moot.
What this is probably about is sex and the ‘boys club’ cult around the 54-year-old secret agent franchise. But there can still be Bond Girls (and maybe Bond Boys) and sexy times in the new films.
Women can be prime ministers, presidents and captains of industry, as well as mothers, wives and any other gender role that is constantly assigned to them.
I understand it’s a big change. A lot of people out there have grown used to Bond being a man. Bringing a woman (yes, with breasts) front and centre of such an important franchise is scary, I know. And yet, I reckon the world is just about ready for a Jane Bond. We’re resilient enough.
And who knows, maybe when Bond is a female, she’ll fight to help close the gender pay gap!
Would you enjoying seeing a woman in the role of Jane Bond? Which actress do you think would play the character best? Do you see this shift in gender of Bond as having any important social and cultural implications?
View the fan trailer.