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Why James Bond Will Probably Never Be a Woman

Experts say he's shaken, stirred, but probably always a man. Is it a bad thing?

Roger Moore as James Bond in 'Moonraker' (MGM/Sony/EON)

As new movies, television series and books overwhelming trend toward diversity, inclusiveness and gender parity, what does the future hold for James Bond? His boss, code-name “M” once called him a “misogynist dinosaur” and a “relic from the cold war.” But, damn, that was in 1995 when Judi Dench first played M in Goldeneye! Since then, there have been attempts to make Bond more woke, or at the very least, a deeper character with real feelings. But when 007 is eventually recast after Daniel Craig’s next outing in 2020, could Bond get rebooted in a way that flips the script on all of his problematic baggage; I.E. could the man with a license to kill become…a woman?

Leading Bond experts and historians are saying it’s very unlikely. Jeremy Black, the author of the new book The World of James Bond, told Fox on Wednesday that Bond probably won’t recast as a woman for at least 20 to 30 years. And that’s because some of the markets where James Bond movies are popular are less-progressive than the United States. “An increasing portion of the James Bond market is in the Far East, South Asia and in parts of the world where their values are different, shall we say,” Black said. “These are more male-centered societies. And in those societies, I think it would be a hard sell to have your leading secret agent as a female.”

But this prediction isn’t only connected to Black’s assertion. Even though many classic actions heroes have experienced gender-reversals in the past couple of decades (Katee Sackhoff as Starbuck in Battlestar Galactica and Lucy Liu as Watson in Elementary stand out as successful examples) Bond has a different kind of legacy. When I spoke to Sherlock co-creator and actor Mark Gatiss in 2015 about the possibility of a gay Bond, Gatiss said that seemed unlikely, too. And not because he didn’t want it to happen.

“With James Bond, it’s a literary antecedent,” Gatiss said then. “If you were for reasons of box-ticking made James Bond gay, that’s not James Bond. By all means have a gay spy! I’ve written about one myself!” Gatiss, who is gay, and huge Bond fan, penned the Lucifer Box novels, about a gay superspy.

None of this is to say there isn’t a compelling reason for fans to want to see a future Bond film featuring a woman in the role. But, unlike certain versions of Iron Man, or now, Doctor Who, Bond’s sexuality and gender feel more wrapped up with his basic character. Could Bond become less sexist? That remains to be seen, but if Woke Bond does in fact happen, he’ll probably have to keep his gender male no matter who is playing him.

The next James Bond film and the rumored final outing for Daniel Craig hit theaters in February of 2020.

Also, the most recent James Bond film, Spectre, is streaming now on Amazon Prime.