No Time to Retire: From Bond Girls to Female 007s

Conference: The European Conference on Media, Communication & Film (EuroMedia2022)
Title: No Time to Retire: From Bond Girls to Female 007s
Stream: Film Criticism and Theory
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Maryline Kassab, Griffith University, Australia


The introduction of the highly capable female 007 (Lashana Lynch) in No Time to Die (2021) represents a shift in the way women in the Bond franchise are performed and marketed. Primarily conceived as little more than love interests (e.g. Tatiana Romanova in From Russia With Love, 1963), the Bond Girls of the current franchise now reflect a larger trend in action cinema which emphasizes the physical and technical capacities of female heroines over their sex appeal. These characterizations build upon previous Bond women, such as Michelle Yeoh’s skilled agent Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), and also female characters which have been originally cast as ‘villains’ but still show a good measure of agency and independence (Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye). This paper examines how the female characters in No Time To Die re-conceptualize the action heroine in the #MeToo era, which has also seen the rise of more female creators. It focuses on the changing embodiment of Bond heroines and draws from feminist-phenomenological theory to assess how these protagonists dialogue with feminist themes on the body. It also looks back at other action films to determine how Bond heroines are shaped not just by the franchise films themselves, but also the Hollywood blockbuster canon in general (including the MCU) – suggesting that while the Bond girl may now be obsolete, the female 007 is unlikely to retire any time soon.

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