Daniel Craig made hay around the world earlier this year when he said the character of James Bond should only be played by a man—not because men are better, but because there should be parts just as good for women. What he said shouldn’t be controversial, especially since it echoes what longtime Bond franchise producer Barbara Broccoli has already stated several times: Bond is male. Which is hard to argue with since the character has always been defined by his masculinity and narrow-to-a-fault views on women. The Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig eras have interrogated that chauvinism, but chauvinism is still a defining aspect of the character.
With that said, No Time to Die has already proven while Bond is male, 007 is not. And as Craig said, “There should be better parts for women and actors of color.” Well, No Time to Die created just such a role for both in the Bond canon with Nomi, who like Barbara Bach’s Triple X in The Spy Who Loved Me, or Michelle Yeoh’s Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies, is his equal. In fact, more than those characters, she’s his successor and can stand on her own without ever getting into his bed.
If Bond had lived in No Time to Die, and perhaps not become a father, it is easy imagining a continuity where Bond did reclaim the title of 007 and Nomi took on another designation. But now that Bond is dead, and No Time to Die’s credits state clearly “James Bond Will Return,” it seems like it’s all for naught. Yet I’d argue it doesn’t have to be.
For starters, Craig’s era may be the most definitive since Sean Connery’s. That is not to say Craig is as good as Connery—or even this writer’s second favorite Bond—but he’s had the most consistent run of films since the 1960s. And after a record-setting 15-year tenure, he is the only Bond a whole younger generation of fans has ever known, from childhood until their 20s. Hence like Connery, it might be harder to quickly replace Craig in the role of Bond.
So why does Bond have to return immediately? The Craig era already featured two lengthy gaps between films of four and six years, a similar absence might make the heart grow fonder before Bond’s inevitable recasting, and create a window where Eon Productions could launch a new set of films starring Nomi as 007 or otherwise.
Producers Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson famously wanted to spin-off Halle Berry’s Jinx from Die Another Day into her own franchise back in 2002, but MGM reportedly got cold feet about spending $80 million on a Bond film not starring James Bond. Additionally, given the assertion producer Barbara Broccoli was “incensed,” one wonders if it was also an early aughts skepticism toward women-led action films which led to the film’s cancellation.