I was first introduced to the spy who loved…well everyone…when I was five (I know, probably too young). But my pop was a huge fan of the films (Fun fact: He was a crooner back in the day and was a contender to sing the theme song to 1964’s Goldfinger), and being a huge fan of my pop, I, of course, dug everything he did. Sharing a love for these super spy/action thrillers with him is still one of my favorite things in the world.
But Bond, James Bond, is not who I want to highlight today. No. With the twenty-fifth film coming out this April, I want to celebrate my favorite of the courageous, incredibly intelligent, and badass women who will be forever more than just “Bond Girls.”
Update: Since the writing of this article, the Bond producers, MGM and Universal have pushed the release date of No Time To Die to November. Good news is, now there’s plenty of time for your Bond rewatch. And while you’re at it, check out the awesome Billie Eilish Bond song.
Topping my list…
“M” GoldenEye (1995)
Many a man has played “M” in the Bond films. But none have been more cool, more fearless, or more endearing than Dame Judy Dench. From the moment she dresses down Pierce Brosnan’s Bond as a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War” in GoldenEye, I knew that this head of MI-6 wasn’t the stuffy, cigar-smoking, cognac-drinking, paper-pusher of old. Nope. Dench’s quick-witted, tough as nails “M” was a new kind of leader, one who’s in the thick of the action, making the hard choices…and living with them. She thrust the Bond franchise into the twenty-first century and proved to be more than a match for 007 — right up to her heart-breaking farewell in Skyfall (2012).
“Pussy Galore” Goldfinger (1964)
I know. I know. The name. But don’t let the moniker fool you. Honor Blackman‘s portrayal of the badass leader of an all-female gang of pilots (“Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus”) is one of my all-time favorite Bond Girls. She’s a marksman, an aviator, and a judoka. What more could you want in a kick-ass villainess.
“Mae Day” A View to a Kill (1985)
Whatever you think of the campy spy romp, A View to a Kill still spawned one of the best 80’s music videos and one of the best baddies of all time. Punk goddess Grace Jones takes the Bond Girl to a whole new, crazy level. She jumps off the Eiffel Tower, hurls men over her head, and laughs in the face of imminent death. Just like Jones, there will never be another Mae Day.
“Colonel Wai Lin” Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Colonel Wai Lin, played by the elegant Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), is the Chinese government’s best. She a skilled martial artist, a master spy, and best of all, immune to 007’s charms. Whether it’s racing through the streets on a motorcycle or zipping down the side of a building, Wai Lin more than holds her own against (and with) Bond. She’s the perfect counterpart to Her Majesty’s secret serviceman, and the first Bond Girl MGM considered spinning off into her own franchise (Halle Berry’s “Jinx” was the other).
“Miss Eve Moneypenny” Skyfall (2012)
Lois Maxwell first enchanted audiences in 1962’s Dr. No as M’s astute, yet playful secretary. Back in Ms. Maxwell’s day, Miss Moneypenny was only given screen time when Bond, tossing his fedora onto the coatrack, entered her office on his way to see the head of MI-6 for his next mission.
But times have changed, and the iconic role of Miss Moneypenny has evolved.
In Skyfall there are a lot of firsts for Naomi Harris’s Moneypenny: She’s a woman of color. She gets a gun. And she finally gets a first name (I know. It’s about bloody time!). And though, in the end, she realizes that field work isn’t her thing, she also learns that fighting the bad guys takes more than a Walther PPK and a license to kill. It takes brains and the courage to use them.
Some may dispute Moneypenny’s “Bond Girl” status. I say bollocks to that. She is just as cool, classy, and kick-ass as the aforementioned characters. And like those ladies, she’s got more going on than a great pair of…um…legs and a winning smile.
007 returns April 10th, and she’s got No Time To Die…