The Bond Girl as Protagonist

Authors: Mathews, P.

Conference: International Film and History Conference

Dates: 10-14 November 2010


With James Bond as the central protagonist in all the cinematic outings, it would appear that the Bond Girls much like the arch-villain are merely subsidiary characters that serve the plot or a specific role. Bond clearly dominates all the narratives in terms of screen time and drives the plot through his indefatigable pursuit of the megalomaniac arch-villain. In this light all other characters serve as either allies or enemies and either help or hinder his goal of completing the mission. There are many examples of this form with The world is not enough and Die another Day serving as clear examples. The characters are merely villains or allies, and even the bond girls that prove to be duplicitous with Elektra King and Miranda Frost respectively, they merely provide complication for the plot and are not elevated to the level of protagonist. So what of the case of Bond Girl as ally elevated to the level of protagonist. Here there is a clear example in the character of Jinx Johnson in Die another day. Jinx is portrayed as capable, professional and to all intents and purposes an equal of Bond. Jinx states “My relationships don’t last.” Bond quips: “I know the feeling” in response. After their first sexual encounter it is Jinx who leaves the post coital bed first to follow the mission rather than Bond. This isn’t entirely new as Holly Goodhead, incidentally also CIA, pulls the same manoeuvre in Moonraker, but it does hint at a character that is not merely there to hinder or amuse Bond. The following sequence at the Cuban clinic if not entirely given over to the character of Jinx, is certainly driven by her. It is Jinx who completes the mission and escapes in spectacular fashion leaving Bond merely as spectator. Later into the narrative Jinx once again has an action scene that shows her prowess and ability as she uncovers Graves before being captured. Arguably at this point Jinx is reduced to being a damsel in distress whereupon James has to step up and rescue her. The final mission however sees some balance restored and it is here that Both Bond and Jinx share screen time in terms of action and plot development. They jointly dispatch henchmen and the final showdown is a tag team event with Bond vs Graves and Jinx vs Frost. The ascension of the Bond girl to joint if not equal protagonist is definitely in evidence in this example. Jinx is a bond girl in terms of the genre tropes she fulfils, sexually active, sophisticated and capable as a CIA agent, in many ways she is a mirror to Bond himself. Jinx is resounding proof of the bond girl as a protagonist, as she doesn’t merely serve the plot, but rather aides and supports Bond on his mission.

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Phil Mathews

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