One of the smartest fan-led Twitter campaigns in recent memory is the demand to change the gender of the British spy known as 007 and cast Gillian Anderson in the highly prized role.
A fan-made trailer that imagines Anderson as “Jane Bond” might not be as far-fetched as it appears.
In her role as government agent Dana Scully in the cult television series The X-Files, Anderson has displayed all the traits associated with the Mi6 agent: fighting skills, the ability to handle weapons, curiosity, resourcefulness, derring-do, and intelligence. Scully has done better than Bond, since along with agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny), she has investigated bizarre paranormal phenomena and aliens. Bond might have gone to the moon, but he hasn’t grappled with ghosts just yet except for the ones in his head. Besides, Anderson has grown up in London, and can deliver the British accent.
However, Jane Bond cannot conceivably replace James Bond any time soon except in the fanverse, given that he was specifically created as an ultra-macho British specimen by author Ian Fleming in 1953. In the movie adaptations, Bond’s superheroic exploits, love for alcohol, fast cars, sharp suits and gadgets, and unerring ability to bed almost any woman he desires mark him out as the ultimate male (and female) fantasy.
Bond has been portrayed by several hunks over the years, including Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Daniel Craig. With Craig announcing his retirement as Bond despite being bribed with a hefty pay hike, the secret agent will acquire a new face in the next chapter of the lucrative franchise. Despite recommendations ranging from Idris Elba to Tom Hiddleston, it’s the rights holder of the Bond film series, Barbara Broccoli, who will decide who plays the next Bond, director Sam Mendes told the Guardian newspaper. Mendes directed Skyfall (2012) and Spectre (2015) but will not be returning for the new production.
The one-man mission has dealt with several female counterparts of different nationalities, including Aki in You Only Live Twice (1967), Anya Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and Jinx Johnson in Die Another Day (2002). The daring gender reassignment of Bond’s boss, M, in GoldenEye (1995) has not been matched with a similarly bold re-imagination of 007’s fundamental character. Judi Dench’s M died in Skyfall, passing on the reins to Ralph Fiennes and returning the franchise to its old-fashioned gender-based division of labour.
Skyfall saw the rebirth of the quaintly named Miss Moneypenny as a field agent rather than a file-pushing secretary. The casting of the talented Naomie Harris raised hopes that her character would not merely be one of Bond’s dim-witted conquests but a figure of action with a mind of her own. However, Harris’s Moneypenny had little to do in the back-to-basics Spectre. If there is any character who can be a Jane Bond to James Bond, it is her.
Cinema has had its fair share of female spies, such as Greta Garbo as Mata Hari (1931), Anne Parillaud in La Femme Nikita (1990) and Angelina Jolie in Salt (2010). Salt was famously written for Tom Cruise before the lead character – a Russian double agent who switches sides – underwent a sex change. The energy and conviction that Jolie brought to the role of Evelyn Salt proves that Jane Bond can be more than the fantasy of netizens. All she needs is a movie to prove her worth.