Bond Girls occupy a strange place in pop culture. On one hand, sexism undeniably runs through the franchise's 53-year history. Bond's very nature is that of a raging misogynist, a fact that current 007 Daniel Craig will keenly point out when prompted, and Bond Girls tend to lack substance. And yet, the Bond films have delivered some of the most memorable female characters ever since Honey Ryder stepped out of the sea in a white bikini in 1962.
Pussy Galore. Anya Amasova. Vesper Lynd. Sure, Bond will always be Bond, raging misogynist and all, but it's these women that we remember. This is what made "Spectre," the 24th film in the franchise and Craig's fourth overall as broody 007, such a letdown. Léa Seydoux's character Madeleine Swann could have been a pioneering Bond Girl, a woman unafraid to put Bond in his place. Instead, in order to better fit the narrative, everything that made her so interesting in the first half of the film was sacrificed in the latter -- her agency, her pluckiness and her resolve.
Back in March, we were promised a kick ass Bond Girl, someone who was actually Bond's equal and could hold her own. To be fair, Madeleine did manage to get a few punches in before she was kidnapped -- twice.
In reality, Madeleine is representative of the franchise's increasingly independent Bond
Girls Women. She's smart enough to know that Bond is a dangerous man, but she's not immune to his charms. She can also hold her own in the face of danger; Madeleine saves Bond's life not once, but twice in "Spectre."
"My character is not a cliche," Seydoux told MTV News during a recent press day. "It's the first time we see a Bond Girl with a job. She's independent and very intelligent. She can protect herself as well."
This is a stark contrast to an earlier Bond Woman in the film played by Italian actress Monica Bellucci. Her character is nothing more than a grieving widow bedded for information. "She's a woman from the past," Bellucci told MTV News. "She comes from a world where men have the only power. And then there's Madeleine, who represents the women of the future."
But for all of Madeleine's strengths, she never get to be the one to truly save the day. Because that, of course, is Bond's job. By the second half of the film, the once combative Swann is resigned to the typical damsel in distress trope that's all too prevalent in Bond movies. Then again, Bond's ability to swoop in an save the day -- while looking sharp AF -- is exactly the reason he's become such an iconic figure.
Yes, there's something to be said for movies that actively embrace the opportunity to create interesting, complex female characters who are more than just love interests and damsels. But is there a place for that kind of character in the Bond franchise? Could a Bond Girl outshine Bond and take over from within à la Rebecca Ferguson in "Mission: Impossible -- Rogue Nation" and Charlize Theron in "Mad Max: Fury Road?" If we're being to be true to the character, to the very core of Bond's being, then no.
"It wouldn't be so interesting," Seydoux said. "What we like about this character is that he's imperfect and has all of these faults... He's too tortured. That's what motivates him."