Reports are circulating that Penelope Cruz has been tapped to play the next Bond girl, and already there is controversy, not just limited to her age (currently 39) but whether or not she’ll lose baby weight in time.
I’ll admit that I was late to the party. I am a fan of the latest Bond incarnation, but have very little patience or inclination to watch all the earlier films. I enjoy the way Daniel Craig fills out a tux, but I also love the humanity he brings to the character, as well as the outrageous action scenes.
For me, there is more appeal in the most recent Bond reboot. I get it. I have to give up my cool cred for not being able to slap a smile on my face and enjoy the constant misogyny of the earlier Bonds. Truth be told, there isn’t much for me to enjoy in movies where women are constantly stripped of their agency, written as nothing more than weak plot points to fan the flame of Bond’s ego.
But when M, played by Dame Judy Dench, called 007 ‘a sexist, misogynist dinosaur’ in 1995’s Golden Eye, I cheered her on. Recently, when Naomie Harris was introduced as 007’s fierce, smart, and savvy co-worker Eve Moneypenny, I cheered again. She is not a character that will be seduced and tossed aside, or sacrificed to stroke Bond’s ego, and that’s something I can get behind.
This is not to say that Daniel Craig’s Bond is without flaws. Most recently in Skyfall when Sévérine, who was taken into sex trafficking, confides in Bond about her sexual abuse, only to have him sneaking into her room for sex in the shower a scene later. I found this disappointing and disturbing when compared to Bond’s behavior in Casino Royale, when he comforted Vesper Lynd in the shower and displayed the humanity that was missing in earlier 007’s.
My disgust continued, however, when (spoiler alert) Sévérine is lined up with a glass of whiskey on her head and killed abruptly by the film baddie. It is not her death that shocks me as much as when Bond throws out the quip about it being “a waste of good scotch.”
The fact that Bond was so shockingly callous toward Sévérine’s death made me think back to the Bond’s of the past, as if Sean Connery was waiting in the wings, cheering at the disappointing throwback behavior of the character.
Moving forward, I hope the films move away from such scenes and treatment of female characters. The addition of Penelope Cruz to the cast as a Bond girl is something that should be celebrated, and I can only hope that it’s treated in a way that highlights how awesome this change is, instead of allowing crappy writing to detract from the victory.
In the past we have seen Bond girls who are thirty years Bond’s junior. We’ve gotten used to seeing 007 assert his manhood time and time again by bedding women who exude youth and vitality, a wink to the men in the audience who think he’s the epitome of masculinity.
With Penelope Cruz we have the chance for something much more than the mistreated Bond girl. We have been given a Bond woman. She is a welcome departure from the obsession with youthful counterparts for the aging Bond. If we’re lucky we will see a more balanced relationship between the two, more understanding that comes with the more narrow age gap and provides the equal footing that previous encounters have seriously lacked.
I can only hope that people stop obsessing over Penelope Cruz’s age, or whether or not she’ll shed her baby weight. I know Hollywood and fandoms are famous for their mistreatment of female characters, but here’s to hoping that the writer’s can rise above the misogyny and give Cruz a role that a Bond woman deserves.
Written by Estee Shaw