A good deal of our most popular spy movies share something in common.
Most of the protagonists are guys? Well, yeah. Out of Esquire’s top ten spy films of all time, only two list a female protagonist as a leading role (Zero Dark Thirty and Notorious, in case you need something to watch).
Could it be that our undercover heroes are almost always white? Yes… that too. In fact, there was a lot of controversy last year when Anthony Horowitz, author of the James Bond novels, implied that Idris Elba wouldn’t be able to play James Bond onscreen because he was “too street.”
But what I was getting at was that the protagonists in all of the high-grossing spy films are incontestably straight. It’s gotten to the point where “Bond Girl” has become a coveted title in the entertainment world, being that James Bond apparently always needs a girl on his arm to save the world.
That seems set to change with the upcoming Atomic Blonde, starring Academy Award-winning actress Charlize Theron.
The film revolves around MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (played by Theron), who is sent to Berlin in the late 1980’s to disband an espionage ring who killed a male agent she had been romantically involved with. The restricted trailer has already been released, and it looks like a blast: the three minute clip features inventive camera angles, intense action sequences, and– perhaps more importantly– a steamy scene between Agent Broughton and another woman.
Female protagonists in the spy genre are still few and far between. To have a female protagonist who’s blatantly bisexual would be virtually unheard of, and in that way the film will already be groundbreaking.
If this kind of queer representation in mainstream media wasn’t enough, Theron’s character seems to be the kind of force that we need to take on this kind of opportunity: she’s tough, she’s clever, and she’s setting out to avenge the death of a man instead of the other way around.
One can only hope that this will open the floodgates for more LGBT+ characters in action films, and spy films in particular. Can you imagine the symbolism that could be implemented if those kind of characters became more commonplace? Queer characters, perhaps keeping their own sexuality under wraps in their own lives, having to go undercover for a cause could add an entirely new dimension to spy movies that has been unseen as of yet.
Atomic Blonde won’t come out until summer of this year, but you can catch the trailer here!