The Bond movies are one of the longest-running and most profitable movie franchises, and with their established presence comes a long-awaited reckoning with its latest installment, “No Time To Die.”
The film, released on Oct. 8, stars Lashana Lynch (who plays Nomi, the new 007) and is directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga (“It,” “Beasts of No Nation”). As the two are not afraid to say, there was some long-overdue change needed in the franchise. Lynch and Fukunaga sat down at a roundtable on Sunday to discuss the new film and what it means for the Bond franchise.
The journey of “No Time to Die” to the screen has been a long and arduous one. Initially slated for release in April 2020, the film was pushed back multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was one of the first blockbuster films to be affected by theater closures worldwide. Fukunaga called this experience “a bit disheartening” and feared that the film would be released to streaming, a fate that many pandemic-era movies were met with.
“There was this looming anxiety,” Fukunaga said, “if the movie would ever reach cinemas.” Stylistically, he had envisioned that the movie would play on big, wide screens in theaters for audiences, and had specifically chosen to film in IMAX 65mm film for this purpose. When the movie finally found its release date of Oct. 8, he stated that he felt a huge amount of “relief and gratitude.”
As they created the first Bond movie of this decade, both Lynch and Fukunaga acknowledged that they had their work cut out for them. Historically, the Bond franchise has had a reputation for casual sexism. For example, the infamous “Bond girls,” are often treated as objects for Bond’s desires, rarely ever get full character development and are not usually major players in the plot. Fukunaga spoke about the need to make a Bond movie for the modern age, and said that it was important to “make changes, but not so much that the change is just a reaction to the times.”
Fukunaga is the first director of a Bond film to receive a writing credit in addition to directing, and his efforts to keep the film updated resulted in marked departures from the previous Bond films. Phoebe Waller-Bridge (creator and star of “Fleabag”, and executive producer of “Killing Eve”) was brought on to the writing team to revise the script, and female characters such as Nomi (Lashana Lynch) play an integral role in the story.
Lynch said that Nomi represented a “contrast to the traditional idea of Bond” and expressed the hope that the character would reshape “how women are viewed and represented within the franchise.”
“Nomi even being an idea on the page,” Lynch said, “let alone making the cut, is testament to how well she was written.” Lynch, who previously played Maria Rambeau in Marvel’s “Captain Marvel,” also discussed the importance of being a role model for young Black girls. As the first Black female 007, making sure her character challenged the trope of a “strong black woman” — “a phrase,” Lynch noted, “I don’t particularly stand by” — was important, citing a need for her character to simply be a “relatable and normal human being.”