‘No Time to Die’ subverts our expectations of the classic ‘Bond girl’ trope

Femme fatale figures are slowly evolving 

Daniel Craig's final Bond movie strays away from typical female narratives.
I’ve come to expect a certain kind of girl from the Bond franchise. She’s stunning, confident, and casually sporting a Beretta pistol strapped to her thigh.
Part of me has always wanted to embody the energy of a "Bond girl." The fantasy is alluring—growing up watching the films, I wanted to wear diamonds and stilettos, manipulate the men around me with ease, and shine in a fight scene as the camera lingers on the thigh-high slit in my dress. 
The series is simultaneously sexy and sexist, and I was often too blinded by the incredible fashion to analyze its problematic undertones. 
Bond girls, though sometimes brilliant, are usually disposable. Like sacrificial lambs, their purpose is to look incredibly desirable in a steamy sex scene and die in a climactic action sequence. They aid Bond in his mission and sometimes even betray him, but their storyline is rarely a deep and meaningful part of the film. 
Despite its allure, the classic image of a Bond girl is damaging. The femme fatale trope is riddled with misogyny—it’s the perfect example of the male gaze manifesting in film. 
Traditional Bond girl narratives perpetuate the idea that a woman’s sexual energy should outweigh her intellect and talent, along with spinning a narrative that all women are disposable. 
We never have to worry about the protagonist recovering from the emotional scars of the last Bond girl—we know there will always be another one, and we know he was too emotionally unavailable to have a real relationship, anyway. 
When I saw Vesper shine as the beloved Bond girl in Casino Royale, I felt, for the first time, that the franchise was starting to complicate its usual narratives. 
Her betrayal was complex and nuanced, and her intellect matched the leading man’s. Though she ultimately ended up being a plot device to the series, she was somehow separated from other Bond girls I had seen, fallen in lust with, and watched disappear into the fabric of the film.  
However, it was undoubtedly in seeing No Time to Die that I realized the Bond girl trope is evolving. At the heart of the film is the love story between Bond and Madeleine Swann: a complex psychologist with an interesting backstory, moments of vulnerability, and a strong sense of self. 
Swann’s experience as a mother is a grounding aspect of her characterization, separating her from other women in the genre. She’s modestly dressed in almost every shot, and the one sex scene between her and Bond is tastefully covered with the classic white bedsheet. 
She’s anything but a cliché. Bond refers to her as Dr. Swann throughout the film, affirming her intellect and accomplishments in the professional world. She holds her own against the villain of the story and clearly has her own agency—the union between Swann and Bond is one of mutual attraction and respect, rather than solely desire. 
The closest we get to a “typical” Bond girl scene in the film is where the stunning Cuban actress Ana de Armas shines as CIA agent Paloma. Though she wears one of the most gorgeous dresses in the franchise with a classic red lip and side part, Paloma is incredibly charming as she playfully subverts our expectations of a fleeting love interest. 
Though her character is initially nervous, she turns out to be incredibly sharp, competent, and a skilled fighter. She leads Bond through the mission and doesn’t even get close to sleeping with him—it’s Daniel Craig who strips down and changes into a tuxedo of her choosing, not the other way around.
No Time to Die proved that the Bond girl trope is evolving. The new, complex femme fatale trope is a hundred times more alluring than seeing a one-dimensional sex symbol in every new 007 film. 
Daniel Craig’s final film as 007 gave me something I didn’t even know I was missing—sharp, competent, stunning women who craft a modern vision of what Bond girls can be. I can’t wait to see how the writers subvert our expectations as the series evolves further.

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