A cinematic icon, the character of James Bond has remained neither shaken nor stirred for over fifty years. While the character of Ian Fleming’s creation might not physically match the description given by the author, many of the personality traits remain the same.
In the 1964 James Bond novel, "From Russia With Love", Fleming describes Bond’s vices as “drink, but not to excess, and women,” and this has certainly followed with his onscreen persona. Add to this description a love of fast cars and you have the Bond that viewers love to watch on the big screen, and certainly the one they’ll be expecting to see when Spectre is released this Fall. Bond is notorious for his womanizing ways, with various theories as to why he sleeps around and never commits; including that it (along with the alcohol) is merely a way to handle the stress of his job.
Whatever the reason, Bond’s women are as synonymous with the film as the main man himself, but what if things were to be shaken up a bit?
In a recent interview with Details, former Bond, Pierce Brosnan, while discussing the progress Ireland has made in accepting the LGBTQ community and the legalization of equal marriage, was asked if we might ever see a gay James Bond, and his answer is bound to stir up a lot of discussion.
“Sure. Why not? Actually, I don't know how it would work. I don't think Barbara [Broccoli] would allow a gay Bond to happen in her lifetime. But it would certainly make for interesting viewing.”
It’s worth mentioning at this point that his comments do not in any way reflect Broccoli’s personal views on the matter, or indeed her views on the LGBTQ community as a whole. More likely, Broccoli’s reluctance for the change in Bond’s sexuality would stem from the fact that (for most people) Bond is just not gay.
When one of the biggest parts of a character’s personality is their many encounters with women, it can become hard to see them any other way, especially when it is someone as iconic as Bond. It is hard to find a comparison, since there are so few mainstream gay characters where their relationships with men are one of the mainstays of their persona, but an example on a smaller scale would be Captain Jack Harkness (Torchwood), played by John Barrowman. Harkness is renowned for his bisexuality though creator Steven Moffat has stated he thinks sexuality doesn’t enter Jack’s mind. Indeed, he also said that he felt as though “the James Bond of the future would bed anyone.” Even so, it would be hard to imagine either Bond or Harkness doing an about face and declaring they are now anything other than how they have previously been depicted on screen.
While sexuality is undeniably fluid, the fact still remains that the majority of people out there choose to identify as one sexuality or another, whatever that may be. For Bond, it would seem as though he identifies very strongly as heterosexual, and it would seem unlikely that this would change. If it were to change, then the surely he would be more likely to be bisexual or pansexual rather than gay? Then again, it is always a possibility, and we are seeing great strides being taken in mainstream media for the inclusion of LGBTQ characters. As well as Torchwood and Doctor Who, The Flash, Mr. Robot, Sense8 and Scream are just some of the more recent TV shows to feature gay characters.
Of course, it is not just a character's sexuality that people are out to change nowadays, and one could argue that there are those who just want change for the sake of it. The gender of the Doctor in Doctor Who comes up time and again, as does the race of Bond, with many fans (including Brosnan) keen to see Idris Elba take on the role after Daniel Craig. Both Bond’s race and sexuality are issues which will have fierce and deep divides. James Bond has always been a white, heterosexual male.
Does this mean that neither of these components can ever be altered? No. But the fact that they could be altered doesn’t necessarily mean that they should be, just for the sake of it. Let us know your own thoughts on the matter (politely, please) in the comments below!
Spectre will be released in UK theaters on October 26th, 2015; it arrives in the U.S. shortly thereafter, on November 6th.