No one does spy books and tie-in movies quite like Ian Fleming’s James Bond series. It’s often imitated, but rarely matched. The films have been delighting audiences for generations over the past 55 years, reborn each decade or so with new versions of the beloved Bond universe and MI6 (British Secret Intelligence Service, Military Intelligence, Section 6) characters, like Q, Miss Moneypenny and even James Bond himself.
Although Q is a fictional character from the Bond Universe, military and secret service often do have a Quartermaster that is in charge of developing, keeping and handling the latest technology and weaponry. It was recently revealed that the person that occupies the real-life position of Q (Quartermaster) is actually a woman.
In an interview with CNN, Alex Younger, who has been Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service in the United Kingdom since 2014, confirmed publicly that their newest Quartermaster is actually a woman, rather than a man as is traditionally portrayed. Younger said, “I’m pleased to report that the real life Q is a woman.” We don’t know her real identity, of course, she is still working in the spy game, after all.
The James Bond character, which has a history of being a little more on the misogynistic side when it comes to his dealings with women, has morphed into a more modern version in the films, reflecting the shift in culture. The actors that have portrayed Q in the movies have been exclusively men. The role was filled by Peter Burton (1962), Desmond Llewelyn (1963-1999), John Cleese (1999-2002) and the current actor, Ben Whishaw, who has portrayed a younger Q for two of the modern Bond films.
One of the most interesting things about James Bond is actually his Batman-esque stock of amazing gadgets and weapons. This part of Bond is all thanks to the Q character and his inventions. A few of the more famous items that Q has bestowed upon Bond include the modified Aston Martin DB5 car, homing devices in the shoes, a wrist-gun that shoots poison darts, a pen grenade and breathing capsules.
The Bond films may not have featured a female Q as of yet (in fact, the first two modern Daniel Craig helmed films didn’t feature the Q character at all), but they have made some major progressions that reflect the modern world. Dame Judi Dench has a feature role in the films as Olivia Mansfield, dubbed M in Fleming’s universe. Dench serves as the head of MI6, so the fictional equivalent of Younger, although her character was killed in Skyfall. Dench served as M in the Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig Bond films, crossing over in the same way that Desmond Llewelyn did in his role as Q for decades.
The James Bond film franchise continues to be as popular as ever, with the most recent installment, Spectre, grossing over $880 million worldwide. The hunt is on for the newest actor to portray Bond, after Daniel Craig turned down an offer to return to the role. The interest is high amongst actors, including Tom Hiddleston (Thor) and Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road).
We’ll bring you more details on the next James Bond film (aka. James Bond 25) as they become available.