The women of The Rhythm Section have made a case for why we shouldn’t have a female James Bond – and, well, colour us convinced.
As James Bond fans, we have long lobbied for a female 007.
“It’s 2020!” we cried. “Why not a woman?” we demanded.
But it was a moot point, according to Barbara Broccoli, the magnate producer whose family has been solely responsible for the classic British spy franchise. Broccoli more or less put her foot down on the idea, leaving little room of hope or agenda. While discussing the future of franchise with Variety this month, Broccoli said the next James Bond could be “of any colour” but unequivocally “male”.
“I’m not particularly interested in taking a male character and having a woman play it,” Broccoli explained. “I think women are far more interesting that that.”
The subject came up again last night at the premiere of Broccoli’s new project The Rhythm Section, a female-led espionage thriller, directed by Reed Morano and starring Blake Lively as female assassin Stephanie Patrick.
“Everyone’s saying, ‘Oh, can a woman be James Bond?’ Why would a woman want to be James Bond!” Broccoli asked Variety on the red carpet, quashing the idea once more. “A woman wants to be Stephanie Patrick, a complex, interesting character.”
In The Rhythm Section, Patrick sets out to avenge her family’s untimely death. And yet – unlike your typical Bond girl – Patrick has more of an attainable persona. Despite being an assassin, she feels relatable. She’s savvy but also flawed.
As Morano puts it: “On a practical level, if you’re an assassin, you’re not always going out in stilettos and a leather mini skirt. How are you going to do what you need to do?”
“It feels like a consolation prize to give us a female James Bond,” Morano adds, chiming in on the female Bond-saga. “Why can’t we make new movies that simply star women in these roles? Let women have their own person. James Bond is James Bond.”
Lively agrees. While The Rhythm Section shares producers with the Bond films, Patrick’s character is unique.
“There’s a femininity, humanity to Stephanie,” Lively explains. “There’s emotionality. You see her emotions in a way that you don’t often in movies like this where a man is at the center.” For example, she says, “I’ve never seen a man in a car chase screaming the entire time because he’s terrified. And what’s honest about that?”
These women have a point.
While men have produced some iconic films about women, they can only ever portray female characters through a male lens. Maybe they make the character slightly more accommodating. Or, perhaps, they worry too much about making her seem more attractive or likeable.
So why would we want to rejig a male role for a woman? Why not give women their own role in all their flawless, fascinating complexity?
Women have played second best for too long, and now we want hand-me-down film characters?
No, thanks. You can keep him. We’ll make our own.