As with any film franchise that has been around for over 50 years, there are aspects of the James Bond series that now seem problematic and uncomfortable. While the globetrotting action spectacle has always been praised, the franchise’s one-dimensional female portrayal has garnered some criticism over the years.
Bond movies tend to objectify their female characters – especially those nicknamed “Bond girls” – while all the fun and substantive roles, like double-crossed spies and megalomaniac villains, are reserved for men. But the franchise has a handful of strong female characters.
ten Honey ryder
The ‘Bond girl’ archetype has been criticized as sexist and unequivocal, but the love interest of Bond’s very first film – Honey Ryder, played by Ursula Andress in Dr No – is still the gold standard for this trope. She’s a shell diver that Bond falls for after meeting her on a beach.
Andress became a sex symbol after the film’s release, but unlike many of the following Bond girls, she got involved in the acting as well. When Bond is captured and taken to Dr. No’s lair, so is Ryder.
9 Vesper Lynd
Vesper Lynd, the love interest of Casino Royale played by Eva Green, subverts the usual trope. Usually Bond maintains a cold indifference as women fall madly in love with him, but 007 turns out to be much more interested in Vesper than she is in him.
Bond actually falls in love with Vesper, even surprising himself, and leaves MI6 just to hang out with her. Casino RoyaleThe romantic subplot has a complicated conflict, because Vesper betrays Bond to save his life, and it culminates in a tragic death scene as Vesper drowns in a sinking building in Venice.
8 Xenia Onatopp
Most of Bond’s “Bond girls” and wicked women are described as femme fatales, a staple of film noir and spy fiction, but Famke Janssen Golden eye the character, Xenia Onatopp, is a femme fatale in the most literal sense: she kills men during sex.
She seduces men who have information she needs and then crushes them to death with her thighs during sex. The murder of lust turned out to be a pretty unique feature of Bond’s villain.
seven Sylvia Trench
These days, it is rare for a “Bond girl” to appear in more than one movie. But Eunice Gayson’s Sylvia Trench appeared as a love interest in the first and second Bond films, Dr No and From Russia with love, suggesting that she is Bond’s occasional girlfriend.
She looks a lot like 007 himself. While he introduces himself as “Bond, James Bond”, she introduces himself as “Trench, Sylvia Trench”.
In this year No time to die, Bond teams up with a hilarious and reckless CIA agent named Paloma, played by Daniel Craig Knives Out co-star Ana de Armas, to infiltrate Blofeld’s birthday party in Cuba.
The only downside to Paloma’s character is that she appears so briefly. Hopefully de Armas will be given a spin-off film (or at least a bigger supporting role in an upcoming Bond film).
5 Tracy bond
Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo, better known as Tracy Bond, was the subversive love interest played by Diana Rigg opposite George Lazenby’s single Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Lazenby’s Bond film, hailed as one of the best entries in the series, overturned the chauvinistic approach of Sean Connery’s films and featured a romantic subplot in which Bond falls in love and gets married. The shocking final scene gives Tracy one of the most tragic deaths in the entire series.
4 Eve moneypenny
Moneypenny is traditionally characterized as M’s secretary, trapped behind a desk and relegated to flirting with Bond. In keeping with the evolution of the Craig era of the franchise’s female characters, Moneypenny was requalified as an armed field agent in Fall from the sky.
Played brilliantly by Naomie Harris, Eve Moneypenny of the Craig Films has plenty of explosive action moments and humorous lines that Bond himself is known for.
3 Colonel Rosa Klebb
There aren’t many villains in Bond canon. There is a couple who are presented as love interests, like Elektra King, or who end up becoming love interests, like Octopussy, but the only traditional megalomaniac villain who is female is Colonel Rosa Klebb in From Russia with love.
The Connery era gradually built itself up until Blofeld was revealed as the big bad, and the cold-hearted Klebb was introduced as one of Blofeld’s underlings at SPECTER.
After Bond’s retirement from MI6 in No time to dieAfter five years of time jumping, his 007 callsign is revealed to have been taken over by a new agent, Nomi, dramatically played by Lashana Lynch.
Nomi proves to be just as adept at wearing the legendary 007 moniker as Bond himself, handling both action beats like the zipline in Blofeld’s birthday party and linebacks like “Time to Die. ! ” with confidence.
1 M (Judi Dench)
Traditionally, M is just a revealing character who gives Bond his new mission after the opening credits and explains the villainous plan he is going to foil. When Judi Dench became the sixth actor (and the first woman) to play M onscreen, the character turned into a dry comedy film for 007.
Dench made a hysterical impassive flash in the face of Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig’s Bonds. When it first appeared in Golden eyeDench’s unadorned, M called Bond a “sexist, misogynistic dinosaur.” When he last appeared in Fall from the sky, she received a truly heartbreaking mailing.
NEXT: The 10 Best Judi Dench Quotes As “M” In The James Bond Movies
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