By now, you’ve probably heard the rumors. According to British tabloid The Daily Mail (so take all of this with a big grain of salt), Captain Marvel co-star Lashana Lynch will debut as the new 007 in Bond 25, which is currently filming.
Worried that Lynch’s casting marks the end of the traditional James Bond? Don’t be. The gadget-toting, martini-swilling, womanizing superspy that you know and love isn’t going anywhere.
Lynch’s debut scene reportedly goes something like this: Near the beginning of the film, Bond’s boss, M, welcomes 007 into his office. Instead of Daniel Craig, who’ll be playing Bond one final time in Bond 25, in walks Lynch, who the Mail describes as “black, beautiful, and a woman.”
Here’s the thing, though. Lynch might be the new 007, but she’s not the new James Bond. As we saw in Casino Royale, which kicked off the modern, rebooted Bond continuity, the double-oh designation (and its accompanying license to kill) is a title that’s passed to MI6’s top agents. At the beginning of Bond 25, Bond has retired from Her Majesty’s secret service. Lynch’s character has taken over Bond’s job, but Bond himself is still around.
Of course, Craig’s secret agent eventually gets called back into action, and is expected to team up with his replacement. “Bond, of course, is sexually attracted to the new female 007,” the Mail notes, although it sounds like Bond’s advances aren’t particularly welcome.
Casting Lynch as the new 007 while keeping the focus on the very white, very male Bond is a clever move by writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge, who created Killing Eve and just scored a few Emmy nominations for her original series Fleabag. Calls to diversify the Bond franchise have been ringing out for years, and Black actor Idris Elba remains a fan favorite for the role once Craig is done with it.
Still, a certain subset of fans don’t react well when their straight, white, male heroes are replaced by women or people of color. Just look at what happened to Paul Fieg’s 2016 Ghostbusters reboot, which substituted Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones for Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ernie Hudson.
By making Lynch’s secret agent the new 007 without actually naming her Bond, Waller-Bridge and director Cary Fukunaga can have it both ways. They get to add a woman of color to 007’s legacy, while still honoring the character that author Ian Fleming created in 1953. Everybody wins.
Of course, there’s another option: If Eon Productions wants to make a female-centric Bond spinoff without upsetting his more conventional-minded fans, M’s secretary Moneypenny is right there. In the new films, Moneypenny is a former field agent, and she’s played by black actress Naomie Harris. Moneypenny has already headlined her own novels and comic books. We’re confident that she could handle a feature film just fine.