L ast July, when it was first rumoured that Lashana Lynch might play 007 in No Time To Die, the reaction was as thoughtless and backward as we’ve come to expect. According to some fans, a woman was “taking over the role of Bond” (she isn’t) – and it was all down to a sudden case of “political correctness” (it’s not, unless you assume that white men are a human default setting). Really, the only response to this news should have been excitement. If it wasn’t already clear, last week’s No Time To Die trailer has made it abundantly so: Lynch’s 00-agent Nomi is not just the Bond franchise’s present, she should also be its future.
Before you all start firing your Walther PPKs at me, I’m a fan of Bond. While Daniel Craig’s tenure has been hit and miss – Casino Royale is the best entry in the series, but both Quantum of Solace and Spectre were disappointments – it’s likely that he’ll go out on a high in November. That said, casting Lashana Lynch in the lead once he departs would be the most exciting thing to happen in the world of Bond for ages. On an optics level, the impact is obvious. Having a dark-skinned Black woman save the world shouldn’t still feel like a novelty in 2020 but it is, and giving the spotlight to Lynch’s Nomi would instantly put Universal Studios and Eon ahead of the game.
Even more importantly, Lynch was born to play this role – and more people are beginning to realise it. The latest teaser was stuffed with exciting moments – Ana de Armas kicking butt! A plane that turns into a submarine! Bond in the jungle! – but on social media, fans were even more excited (and rightly so) by a shot of Nomi looking badass as she walks through a nightclub.
Whether she’s serving looks in the trailer (see above), wielding machine guns or driving an Aston Martin, Lynch is doing everything that Bond does already – and looking good while doing it. If you need more proof of her chops, just look at Lynch’s brilliant turn in Captain Marvel. She may not have had much screen time in the 2019 comic book smash, but she brought emotional depth to hot-shot pilot Maria Rambeau, something Craig has also done for Bond.
Of course, it’s important to remember that we’ve been here before. In 2002, there was much talk of a spin-off for Halle Berry’s Jinx – an NSA agent who teams up with Pierce Brosnan’s Bond in Die Another Day – but it never came to fruition. Now, the series is at another crossroads. If Nomi proves a big hit with audiences, it’s a ready-made opportunity to expand the world of 007 and take the series to new heights.
“One of the biggest reasons I did Casino Royale is the line: ‘A vodka martini, please.’ ‘Shaken or stirred?’ My reply was written in the script as, ‘Do I look like I give a fuck?’ And that’s it. That’s the reason I did it,” Craig told Empire last year. “Because what I could not do, what I refused to do, was repeat what had gone before. What was the fucking point?”
This is a message that the Bond franchise should take to heart. Every few years, a new white man comes in to take over the role of Bond. The gadgets may be different, the car may have a new (or classic) sheen, but there’s an underlying formula that’s remained more or less unchanged for 24 films. That long run proves that the formula works, but if ever there was a time to not “repeat what has gone before”, it’s now. “The mission that changes everything begins” is the tagline for the latest trailer. No Time To Die can be the setup. A 007 film led by Lynch can be the follow-through.