Why a female James Bond or Indiana Jones is a bad idea

Hanna Flint
Why we don’t need a female Bond or Indiana Jones
Why we don’t need a female Bond or Indiana Jones

It feels like every week we’re bombarded with new odds on who will play the next James Bond; from James Norton to Tom Hardy, Idris Elba to Aidan Turner.

The latest, though, is on the likelihood of the British spy being played by a woman which bet makers reckon is closer to becoming a reality. Oddschecker claims that there have been a surge of bets on an female actor playing the role of 007, slashing the odds from 33/1 to 12/1, which for many people will seem like a step towards gender equality in film.

To me, it shows a low expectation of what roles actresses deserve to be getting.

Read more: 26 actors who could be the next James Bond

Ian Fleming’s James Bond is a character steeped so much in masculinity and misogyny that these attitudes have become some of his most defining personality traits. Even in his translation from the page to the screen, Bond’s overtly gendered characteristics have become a hallmark of the spy.

It’s certainly no surprise that the most popular James Bond films have featured actors like Daniel Craig and Sean Connery, who have leaned into this type of brutish masculinity, while George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton’s more sensitive iterations were not as well received.

Jodie Whittaker’s transition into becoming a female Doctor is easy because he’s asexual and not defined by inherently manly traits (BBC)
Jodie Whittaker’s transition into becoming a female Doctor is easy because he’s asexual and not defined by inherently manly traits (BBC)

It’s not the women can’t take over male roles; The Doctor of Doctor Who, for example, is a somewhat asexual alien being who can regenerate into a woman without actually retconning any of the character’s backstory or continuity. But while Jodie Whittaker’s transition into becoming the Time Lord is not held back by distinctly masculine personality traits or gender, a reboot of James Bond as a woman would be.

As Judi Dench’s M puts it in GoldenEye, Bond is a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War,” whose appeal lies in exactly that, so for an actress to attempt to recreate that sort of character would seem inauthentic.

Rachel Weisz, whose husband happens to be the current James Bond, made this point earlier this year when speaking to the Telegraph. “Fleming devoted an awful lot of time to writing this particular character, who is particularly male and relates in a particular way to women,” she said.

“Why not create your own story rather than jumping onto the shoulders and being compared to all those other male predecessors? Women are really fascinating and interesting, and should get their own stories.”

Steven Spielberg says the next Indiana Jones could be a woman
Steven Spielberg says the next Indiana Jones could be a woman

Steven Spielberg could take note of this statement, as he’s recently suggested that a woman could be the next Indiana Jones. “We’d have to change the name from Jones to Joan,” he told The Sun. “And there would be nothing wrong with that.”

First of all, Steven, that’s not how names work. Second of all, there’s also nothing wrong with creating original female-led action films instead of just giving women male action hero roles, laden with nostalgic baggage.

Harrison Ford’s alter-ego is just as much defined by his masculinity as Bond is so an Indiana Joan (sigh) would pale in comparison. There are plenty of original action film scripts out there with female leads, and even more female-led books that could be adapted for the screen, so it would be more productive if Spielberg said he was working on one of these type of movies than making suggestions that he’ll likely never help come to fruition.

The action movie genre has for years been heavily influenced by an industry that continues to champion the stories of men, which more often than not cater to the macho sensibilities of a male audience. This is unsurprising considering there is a 5:1 ratio of men working on films to women.

So, as the gender balance behind the scenes hopefully improves (with the help of initiatives like Time’s Up) let’s not demand to have a female Bond or Indiana Jones, let’s ask for an original female action hero to rival them.

Or even give Moneypenny a spin-off movie, that could dispense with the toxic masculinity and showcase the obvious skill and talent she’s exhibited with Naomie Harris in the role. She certainly deserves more than just a solo outing in a camera commercial (see video above).

Let’s give actresses more opportunities to embody their own iconic action heroes instead of trying to replicate male ones.

Last year, the top three film that topped the box office had female leads, for the first time in 59 years.

Women sell, and Hollywood needs to catch up to that fact and bet on more original female action heroes too.

Tomb Raider proves Hollywood still has a female action hero problem
Aech should have been the lead in Ready Player One
Doctor Strange 2 villain confirmed as Nightmare