Who “Can” Be the Next 007?

Daniel Craig recently has both stirred and shaken headlines when he offered this response to whether a woman should next sit behind the Aston Martin’s steering wheel: “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, but for a woman?” It hurts me to say this as I’ve always admired Craig’s role for a long time as Bond, but he’s wrong. First of all, there is no part as good as James Bond. 007 is the #1 secret agent and has achieved worldwide status throughout the franchise’s cinematic history. Judi Dench played a stellar role as M, the Head of Secret Service Intelligence, starting with GoldenEye in 1995 and finishing with SkyFall in 2012. In Skyfall, it is M who revives Bond’s career after he fails at a series of physical, medical, and psychological evaluations. It’s almost as if Craig and those advocating for 007 to be only a white male have forgotten all about the original Charlie’s Angels who led American crime drama on ABC from 1976 to 1981, producing 5 seasons and 115 episodes (and more recent Charlie’s Angel’s films). What did Charlie’s Angels do? It showed in 1976 that women can have all those “Bondish” characteristics (sexy, cunning, brave, adventurous). 1976 and now we’re in 2021 hearing an argument on how 007 shouldn’t be female? Am I missing something? Have those preached against 007 being female hide in a cave when Brie Larson showed the true kick-ass power a female character can have when she played Captain Marvel? Did they hide in their cave again when Scarlett Johannson revealed her grit and determination to be a top-class spy? And, even worse is the hate and racist comments actor Idris Elba has received about whether or not he could follow Daniel Craig as 007. Elba, like the class-act he is, responded with honesty and humility when speaking to Vanity Fair about it:  “You just get disheartened, when you get people from a generational point of view going, ‘It can’t be.’ And it really turns out to be the color of my skin. And then if I get it and it didn’t work, or it did work, would it be because of the color of my skin? That’s a difficult position to put myself into when I don’t need to.” A survey of 2,201 adults by The Hollywood Reporter found that 63% of Americans supported the idea of Elba playing Bond.  Lashana Lynch who just played Nomi (cryptonym “007”) in the recent No Time to Die film, also received hate comments when tabloids billed as Craig’s successor to Bond in the franchise. In an interview with The Guardian, Lynch gave her thoughts on this: “The response was generally positive, but there were some very personal messages to me, like Insta DMs and Twitter and just conversations that my friends had heard or overheard on the tube that were really mean, dark and reminiscent of an age I wasn’t even born in, where women and black people weren’t allowed to move in certain spaces. So it also reminded me about the work that I still have to do to try to change the world in a little way that I know how.” How Idris Elba and Lashana Lynch responded to hate should remind us all that we have to continue working to break racial and gender stereotypes – in every facet of life from entertainment to the everyday workplace. So, really the question that should be asked is: how much longer can the Bond franchise survive with a 007 that can only ever be allowed to be a white male?