When British journalist Ian Fleming wrote the first novel featuring Agent 007, famously known as James Bond, in 1952, the character was born as a composite based on a number of operators that Fleming had known during his service with the Naval Intelligence Division during the second world war. Taken in context, a British Intelligence division, during that time, would logically be made up of primarily male and white operators.
Between 1952 and 1964, when Fleming died of a heart attack, he had written 12 novels and 2 short story collections featuring James Bond, 007. The last two of his novels, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Octopussy and The Living Daylights were published after his death. In case you're calculating in your head, wondering about the 24 James Bond titles that have made their way to the silver screen, starting with From Russia With Love, in 1964, there have been a total of 8 writers that have continued the novels since Fleming's death. Each of those writers continued the basic outline of the character, though several of them have taken it upon themselves to revise and update Bond to keep him relevant and relatable for subsequent generations. Note: Fleming's Bond only existed in the 1950's to early 1960's.
It appears to me, that the fact that all of the subsequent writers were white males, continuing the perceived traditions of a celebrated fictional white male character, that was created by a celebrated white male novelist, created a history and culture of assumptions. The mantle was not passed from Fleming to another writer of his choosing, someone with whom he might have passed his ideas and insights on the character to. The posthumous assignments were handled for business reasons, to keep the golden goose producing those golden eggs. Pick a writer, ensure that he's familiar with the series, and direct him to follow the recipe.
Fact of the matter, is that Ian Fleming himself was somewhat malleable in his ideas of what James Bond actually looked like. His initial description portrayed a slender character(6 foot tall and 168 pounds) with dark hair and cruel good looks. One detailed characteristic that was consistent in Fleming's novels, was the "three inch long vertical scar on his right cheek", which has clearly been absent from all of the actors that have brought the character to the screen. Fleming's idea of the actor that resembled the character as he'd described was David Niven. So much so that he was initially against the casting of Sean Connery - who was arguably, and in my opinion - the best incarnation of superspy James Bond. Subsequently, after seeing Connery carry the role in From Russia With Love, Fleming loved the performance so much, that he changed the character in his novels to bear a Scottish heritage, in line with that of Sean Connery. Does that sound like someone that had a fixed and distinct vision of the character? I'd say not. In total, seven actors have played the international superspy in film.
In any case, with the news that Black British actress Lashana Lynch will be assuming the mantle of Agent 007, people once again lost their minds. Between the long history of association of James Bond as a white man, and as 007, and the suggestion over the past year or so that Idris Elba be selected to play James Bond, people have conflated those ideas with the selection of Lynch into something that it is not.
The 00 designations are decided by MI6, the agency that James Bond works for, so in practical terms 007 is merely an employee number. Companies, corporations, and agencies, regularly assign employee numbers. Should a given employee leave, the company has the ability and the right to recycle that number and assign it to someone else. Such is the case for Lashana Lynch's upcoming debut as Nomi, the "new" agent 007, in No Time To Die, scheduled for release in April of 2021.
Apparently, such details, logic, and explanations do not matter to the trolls and would-be guardians of white male-dom, who are outraged that a black woman would dare touch the title of 007, regardless of the circumstances, which include the fact that her character will be working with the current Bond, Daniel Craig. These internet warriors are so outraged, that they have resorted to the first and last resort in their fanboy handbook, racist and sexist insults and epithets, and of course the white supremacist's old tried and true - threats of violence.
Well, like it or not, Lashana Lynch's casting follows the traditions of the evolution of James Bond novels over the decades, following the passing of Ian Fleming. Updating Bond and the supporting characters to fit the times, and appeal to new generations of fans is standard faire, and a black female 007 agent, could prove to be the exact type of shake up that the franchise needs. I mean seriously, how old is the last person you heard talking about going to see a James Bond film? And what does HE look like? Yeah, I said it.
We're hoping that Lashana brings her best to the role, because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the world will be watching. Girl, please don't get up there and embarrass black folks like Halle Berry did as pseudo-agent/Bond girl, Jinx in Die Another day. But, I digress.
Black folks need to be sure to get out and support this one, and I'm talking about some Black Panther level support.
This role is not just high profile, it's revolutionary.