The scene ends with her saying no before being cornered in a steam room and undressed. In the following scene, she practically purrs at the sight of Bond, now beholden to his touch. However, that only makes the sequence even more disturbing as it plays into the rapey fantasy of “secretly she wanted it.”
With that said, there is also a scene of dubious sexual politics in Goldfinger where Connery’s Bond similarly throws himself on top of Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), who initially tries to push the heavier male off of her before returning his kisses. This again plays into the power fantasy of Bond, especially in his earliest iterations, and what it reflected about mid-20th century notions of sex and gender dynamics. It’s less jarring given there’s no threatened extortion or sense of outright coercion, but when one realizes in the source material novel that Pussy Galore is explicitly stated to be a lesbian (which is also faintly hinted at in the film), the subtext becomes, again, quite troubling.
Acknowledging this doe not mean either film should be “cancelled” or erased from the cultural canon. Goldfinger is particularly one of the best Bond movies ever made, with Pussy Galore being the first female character to actually stand up to Connery’s boyish arrogance and give as good as she gets. And while Thunderball has aged much less gracefully, it should be noted it’s the first 007 movie where one of the Bond Girls can not be seduced by Bond’s charms, as seen by the villainess Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi). Additionally, the main female lead of the film, Domino (Claudine Auger), also gets to be one of the few Bond Girls who sees 007 as much as a disposable distraction as he does her. She also is to date the only Bond Girl to kill the film’s main villain and save 007’s life instead of the other way around.
Nevertheless, being aware of the obviously egregious and even grotesquely antiquated elements of both films, and what they represent, is both a better way to understand the pervasive social prejudices of 1960s pop culture, as well as to consider the same character in the 21st century.
Fukunaga is doing just that as well by being aware of the character’s inherent sense of entitlement—and contextualizing that as a flaw instead of a virtue.
In this regard, Fukunaga told THR about why he and No Time to Die producer Barbara Broccoli were so keen on bringing Emmy winning writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge into the fold and working on the new Bond movie’s screenplay.