As per a Daily Mail source tied closely to the production of the film, the next 007 will be none other than Lashana Lynch(Captain Marvel’s Maria Rambeau), or so numerous click-bait headlines would have us believe. The announcement came alongside the requisite tide of fan polarization seen analogous with such recent productions as the live-action Little Mermaid and the forthcoming Terminator: Dark Fate. Many moviegoers are rightfully happy to see greater gender and racial representation within their favorite franchises, whilst others repeatedly rail for a more traditional take on established characters. In this particular case I fear both parties are getting overly excited over a piece of entertainment news that’s perhaps not as woke as many might have you imagine.
To further expand upon my point, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane. Back in 1997 Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Crazy Rich Asians) landed her first major studio gig outside Hong Kong in the James Bond feature Tomorrow Never Dies. Yeoh’s portrayal of Wai Lin, a Far East equivalent to Bond replete with her own Q Branch style weaponry, set off some buzz of a female-centric spinoff staring the acclaimed actress. More concrete announcements of a female minority led spinoff would arrive just five short years later with the casting of then newly minted Oscar winner Halle Berry (Monster’s Ball) in Die Another Day. In the film Brosnan’s Bond partners up with NSA agent Jinx Johnson (Berry) as they share a mutual affinity for sex and spy craft. While Eon Production producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson seemed allegedly keen on a Jinx spinoff series, plans faltered following poor reception surrounding 2002 film.
Recent news regarding Lynch’s casting as the lasted double-O arrived in wake of a fan led push to position Idris Elba as the next Bond. Whilst the casting of Lynch may initially appear a more progressive move (Elba likely having aged out of his potential bid for Bond), it’s worth noting that Lynch is not actually playing Bond nor is there any official word of her at the helm of any 007 film in which she is to be top billed (despite what the ever increasing flood of headlines may insinuate). Based on insider info via the Daily Mail, Bond 25 will feature a scene early in the film wherein M (Ralph Fiennes) states “come in 007” and in walks Lashana Lynch. Daniel Craig’s James Bond is revealed to be retired in Jamaica; which is all hardly revelatory considering that Bond bailed out of the espionage game toward the tail end of Spectre. A new threat to Queen and Country encourages M to bring Bond back from seclusion and effectively resume his mantle as the film’s principal protagonist.
Whilst I personally would love to see Lynch as a pistol packing secret agent, the sleuth in me says that this entire story reeks of clever PR manipulation. Think back to 2015 when Eon Productions announced the then 50 year old Monica Baluchi would be the next Bond girl, veiling the fact that the much younger Léa Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Color) would ultimately be shacking up with her 17 years senior Craig. Granted there have been some sincere strides toward making the Bond brand more inclusive in recent years. Both the roles of Felix Leiter and Miss Moneypenny have been recast to feature black actors (Jeffrey Wright and Naomie Harris respectively) and the latest Bond feature has employed the screenwriting prowess of female filmmaker Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, Killing Eve). That being said, the dichotomy of a franchise featuring a lead who remains defined, at least to some degree, misogynist in the era of Me Too is a struggle Eon Productions will undoubtedly continue to confront going forward. Pairing the currently caucasian British Bond with the likes of Lashana Lynch seems at most a means to open up a dialogue on the issue rather than a complete overhaul of the issue itself.