An iconic aspect of any James Bond film—apart from the sophisticated gadgetry and endless array of well-tailored suits—has always been Bond women. With each successive instalment in the franchise (which spans nearly six decades), audiences have been mesmerized by these central female characters who have proved to be more than just a beautiful face or object of desire. Bond Women can be a crucial ally to the main undertaking in the film, or a femme fatale hellbent on derailing 007’s mission. With the forthcoming release of No Time to Die, British actor and S/ cover star Lashana Lynch will have her name permanently etched into this beloved series. To commemorate Lynch’s high-profile role, we are looking back at the memorable women who have illuminated cinema screens with their undeniable charisma and tenacity.
Honey Ryder, Dr. No
Upon emerging from an ocean singing “Under the Mango Tree”, Honey Ryder cemented her place in cinematic history. Played by Ursula Andress, Ryder proudly flaunts her independence and enterprising nature, making ends meet by selling seashells on a Miami beach. Moreover, she impresses Bond and filmgoers alike by immersing herself within the agent’s mission, never shying away from any challenge or hostile situation. Widely acknowledged as the first “Bond Girl,” Ryder thwarts any damsel-in-distress stereotypes by exuding courage.
Pussy Galore, Goldfinger
Employed by the central villain, Pussy Galore and Bond initially get off to a rocky start. Galore, who is played by British actor Honor Blackman, runs a league of highly-skilled female aviators selected by the villain Goldfinger to buttress his “Operation Grand Slam,” while also showcasing a proficiency in the martial arts. However, this aerodynamics expert eventually switches course and joins Bond in overcoming her previous boss, using her prowess and intellect to help the cause.
May Day, A View to Kill
A woman of immense power, May Day is a truly unique female villain. Doubling as a bodyguard and romantic interest of antihero Max Zorin, May Day—who is brought to life by Grace Jones—utilizes her superhuman strength to create necessary obstacles to Bond’s supremacy. She turns on her lover after the first phase of his wicked plan almost kills her, eventually sacrificing herself to stop an earthquake he intends to unleash on mankind.
Xenia Onatopp, GoldenEye
Xenia Onatopp, a former officer and pilot in the Soviet Air Force, possesses intimidating traits. Brought to life by Dutch actor Famke Janssen, Onatopp is known for her confident sexuality and lethal leg strength as she crushes her victims with her thighs. Fallen 00 agent and main villain Alec Trevelyan recruits this femme fatale to realize his diabolical plans, allowing her to make use of her caustic seductiveness and take down Bond.
Wai Lin, Tomorrow Never Dies
As a spy for the Chinese People’s External Security Force, Wai Lin is a skilled martial artist who also possesses a biting sense of humour that greatly complements her physical and intellectual proficiencies. Played by Michelle Yeoh, Wai Lin is a fan favourite and widely regarded as one of the best leading ladies in the franchise for these reasons, as well as for injecting a necessary dose of diversity into the Bond Women legacy.
Giacinta “Jinx” Johnson, Die Another Day
Fresh off her historic Best Actress win at the Oscars, Halle Berry landed a central role in Die Another Day as an NSA agent. Tasked with assassinating North Korean agent Zao, Jinx and Bond eventually join forces to hinder the forces of evil. As an homage to Honey Ryder, Berry’s character is seen similarly emerging from the ocean, updating an iconic cinematic image for the 21st century.
M, various films
The unbreakable alliance between Bond and M, the head of MI6, is firmly rooted from her first appearance in the franchise in 1995. Judi Dench imbues her character with wisdom and intellect, acting as a mother figure to Bond and commanding the Secret Intelligence Service with immense strength and grace. Furthermore, her involvement in 2012’s Skyfall is crucial to overcoming Javier Bardem’s unrelenting evil.
Eve Moneypenny, Skyfall, Spectre, No Time to Die
Moneypenny has a longstanding affiliation with the Bond series, as the receptionist to M appears in various films and is portrayed by a number of actresses. While commonly portrayed as an unrealized love interest to the main hero, the introduction of Eve Moneypenny in Skyfall switches up her narrative for the better. Naomie Harris’s version of the character is notable for two reasons: she is the first black actor to assume the role, and is the first Moneypenny to be given a first name. Additionally, Eve spent time as a field officer before becoming a secretary, revealing her character’s complexity and depth.
Images courtesy of IMDb.