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The Next Bond Films Should Shift Into a New Direction With Their Villains

March 24, 20246 Mins Read

The Big Picture

  • Bond franchise should feature a female villain for a fresh and engaging dynamic with a new era of storytelling.
  • Introducing a female main antagonist can reinvent and elevate the Bond series for a more modern audience.
  • The strong female characters in Bond films show a potential for depth in a female villain, enhancing the saga.

The James Bond franchise is one of the longest-running action sagas of all time and has shown no signs of stopping anytime soon. Although the Daniel Craig era of the franchise managed to go out on a high point with No Time To Die in 2021, the film ended with a title card teasing Bond’s return in the near future. A new actor cast as Bond (whether that’s going to be Aaron Taylor-Johnson or not) means that the franchise will need a different tone, an enthusiastic creative crew, a robust new supporting cast, and an immersive story that will help engage younger viewers in the franchise’s mythology. However, Bond is ultimately a character who is defined by his villains, and there’s no decision more important than nailing the next film’s main antagonist. If producer Barbara Broccoli and MGM truly want the next collection of the series to stand out, the new Bond film series should feature a female villain.


No Time to Die

Release Date
September 29, 2021

Cary Fukunaga


The mission that changes everything begins…

The Bond Franchise Needs to Reimagine Its Villains

To say that the Bond franchise has a somewhat checkered reputation when it comes to female representation would be putting it mildly. The early films of the Sean Connery era of the series are certainly reflective of their time, as they were released during an era where female characters rarely led action franchises. Although the films starring Connery and Roger Moore often featured Bond’s love interest turning against him, the notion of the “Bond girl” grew less prominent within the most recent iterations of the series. Instead of pitting Bond against a malevolent femme fatale, Spectre and No Time To Die featured Craig’s Bond developing a healthy relationship with the character Madeline Swann (Lea Seydoux). Adding a main female antagonist who wasn’t romantically linked to Bond would only make this dynamic more complex and engaging.

Although it was certainly the more realistic tone and talented filmmakers behind the camera that made the latest set of Bond films stand out, the Craig era is one of the best because of the talented actors cast as the main Bond villains. The SPECTRE organization had been played out, and Bond had dealt with his fair share of assassins, tycoons, and rogue scientists; thankfully, characters like the terrorist banker Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) and the former MI6 agent Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) reflected more modern threats and stood out as some of the franchise’s more memorable antagonists. Committing to a main female villain would only further indicate that the Bond films want to do something different that grounds the series in a new era.


Ian Fleming’s Ideal Actor for James Bond Played Him in a Parody

Originally envisioning a more well-known star in the role, Fleming wanted someone other than Sean Connery for 007.

Casting another male villain may lead the Bond series to feel repetitive, as the villains in Craig’s later Bond films began to feel like parodies of what came before. Despite a memorable performance by Christoph Waltz, the reintroduction of the SPECTRE leader Ernst Stavro Blofeld felt like a desperate attempt to cater to nostalgia, even when the franchise was trying to distinguish itself from its predecessors. Similarly, Rami Malek’s villainous Lyutsifer Safin in No Time To Die felt like a comically old-fashioned version of a “crazed scientist” that didn’t reflect the more realistic tone of the series. Adding in a female villain could allow the new Bond films to totally reinvent what a 007 film could be by finally doing something different.

Some of the Best Bond Villains Are Female

Pierce Brosnan and Sophie Marceau in The World Is Not Enough
Image via MGM

Although the vast majority of Bond’s enemies have been male, the few female villains introduced in the franchise have been real standouts. Often cited as one of the best films in the entire series, From Russia With Love featured one of the most memorable Bond villains with Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb. A stealthy SPECTRE agent who helps oversee the mission to assassinate Bond during his trip to the Soviet Union, Kelbb is a character whose intelligence and high rank make her ruthless. Her last confrontation with Bond during the film’s final moments is electrifying and still holds up over six decades later.

While the Pierce Brosnan era of the franchise does feature some regrettably underwritten female characters, The World Is Not Enough challenged perceptions of a Bond villain with Sophie Marceau as Elektra King. Although the wealthy oil heiress initially appears to be a romantic foil for 007, King quickly proves that she’s neither attracted to nor interested in Bond; he’s merely a pawn within her plot to get revenge on M (Judi Dench). The grounded conflict between two powerful female characters elevated what could have been a forgettable Bond film, and hopefully paved the way for future films in the series to harbor similar ambitions.

The Bond Films Have Improved With Their Female Characters

The Daniel Craig Bond films were significantly different from their predecessors in how they mapped out their story; while previous iterations of the franchise were largely standalone, the Craig films developed a continuity that allowed character development over the course of the five films. The Craig movies showed an improvement in Bond’s representation by featuring prominent female supporting characters. Naomie Harris’ Moneypenny and Judi Dench’s M prove to be critical allies throughout Bond’s adventures and were given compelling emotional conclusions by the time No Time To Die reached its controversial ending. Giving a similar amount of depth to the franchise’s next “Big Bad” would only make it more exciting.

The strong presence of female characters in the Bond universe suggests the franchise is capable of pulling off a female villain, as it has matured to reflect a more modern view of espionage. Bond may be a more traditional character, but he exists in the present; to have the series consciously ignore women in positions of power would simply make it feel outdated. The series has managed to exist for over six decades because it’s unafraid to try new ideas and retrofit the mythology to appeal to a new set of viewers embracing the saga for the first time. From looking at the countless great female villains in the last decade, there would certainly be several talented actresses well-suited to square off against the latest actor cast as Bond.

No Time to Die is available to rent on Amazon in the U.S.

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