James Bond has come a long way. From previous versions of the franchise where the character is overwhelmingly sexist, the latest Bond films have started to tinker with the misogynistic mould (much to some fans’ relief, and other fans’ outrage).
Daniel Craig stated in 2015 that he wanted his Bond to be less sexist than previous Bonds and Lashana Lynch, who played Agent Nomi in the latest Bond film, No Time To Die, highly praised Fukunaga, Craig, and Bond producer Barbara Broccoli for ensuring the female characters were more than sexy side-characters for Bond to play with.
“Cary had big discussions with Barbara and Daniel about how to give the female characters equity… It was really important to empower the female characters as stand-alones. And I think that [Cary] kept that in mind throughout the whole shoot.”
And yet, while the latest James Bond films have made an effort to more accurately represent women onscreen, the franchise still has room for improvement in its representation of the LGBTQ+ community, actor Ben Whishaw recently suggested.
The only clear reference to a character within the entire James Bond franchise – a total of 25 films – being anything other than straight was in No Time To Die, and the reference is merely a passing comment. The character Q, head of the research and development division of the British Secret Service and essentially the man who gives Bond cool gadgets, is setting up a romantic dinner when Bond shows up unannounced. Q notes that his guest, who has not yet arrived, is a man.
Many fans saw this as a milestone for Bond films; it wasn’t a ridiculous dramatic reveal and Bond didn’t make any sort of homophobic reaction to the comment. But others saw it as a weak attempt to include diversity in the film, especially because we never see or hear anything about Q’s date again in the film. It’s arguably a throwaway comment that went nowhere and could easily be cut out of the film in more conservative countries.
The actor who has played Q in three of the latest Bond films alongside Craig, Ben Whishaw, told The Guardian he was “perhaps” unsatisfied with how Q’s sexuality wasn’t really explored on screen.
“I thought, ‘Are we doing this, and then doing nothing with it?’ I remember, perhaps, feeling that was unsatisfying.”
Whishaw did say that he didn’t think it was intentional for the fleeting comment to come across as though the film just had a box to check in terms of representation and decided to do the bare minimum.
“I don’t feel it was forced upon the studio. That was not my impression of how this came about. I think it came from a good place.”
“I accepted this was what was written. And I said the lines. And it is what it is.”
It’s also arguable that making Q’s sexuality an overwrought big ‘thing’ would be even weirder than keeping it subtle and natural. In 2022, a time when your sexuality really shouldn’t be a big deal, whatever way you swing, why would any character’s sexuality need a tokenistic burst of fanfare?
Whether or not Q’s love life continues to be subtle or explored in greater depth, we hope the witticisms (think: “I can do more damage on my laptop sitting in my pyjamas before my first cup of earl grey than you can do in a year in the field”) continue.