As exit strategies go, Daniel Craig's long view on stepping away from James Bond is the most progressive we've encountered in some time: At a Quantum of Solace press conference last week in Rome, Craig suggested that Barack Obama's election win had perhaps laid the groundwork for a black 007. Admittedly, we hadn't yet considered the "action-movie franchise" component of Obama's social influence, but at least one critic opened the discussion online — and this only days after Beyoncé Knowles made a public appeal for the role of Wonder Woman in the long-delayed (and presumed dead) comic-book adaptation. And so begins America's next essential civil rights debate: Have our blockbuster heroes moved beyond race?Clearly it depends on whom you ask. By at least one person's standards Batman is already Turkish, and Hancock recently depicted cinema's first drunk, misanthropic superhero as a black dude living on the streets. Global audiences threw $624 million at Will Smith in the latter film, and according to Craig, may be color-blind enough to greet a black Bond with similar largesse:
"After Barack Obama's victory I think we might have reached the moment for a coloured 007. I think the role could easily be played by a black actor, because the character created by Ian Fleming in the '50s has undergone a great deal of evolution and continues to be updated."
Yes, he said "coloured," it's how they roll in the UK, calm down. Craig noted as well that the politically incorrect (at best) Fleming probably wouldn't approve were he alive — a qualification hardly as significant as whether or not viewers who voted in a black president would approve. And even that is an impossible dynamic to parse considering how — if we are the "changed" nation we say we are — Obama's victory owed more to economic and political factors (not to mention pure timing) than the color of his skin. Do we really think we've "reached the moment," or will we only know when the right black Bond comes along?
Beyonce's Wonder Woman scenario is simultaneously simple and more complex. Moviegoers and critics were decidedly stingy to Halle Berry's Catwoman, yielding only $82 million in 2004. Warner Bros., which released Catwoman and whose president Jeff Robinov drew fire last year after allegedly suggesting the studio was done with female leads, has Wonder Woman in limbo (along with Joel Silver) since Joss Whedon abandoned it last year. So that settled it, we thought, until Beyoncé came along — appropriately Amazonian and looking for her next opportunity coming off her turn as Etta James in the forthcoming Cadillac Records.
"I want to do a superhero movie, and what would be better than Wonder Woman? It would be great. And it would be a very bold choice. A black Wonder Woman would be a powerful thing. It's time for that, right? [...] "After doing these roles that were so emotional I was thinking to myself, 'OK, I need to be a superhero.' [...] Although, when you think about the psychology of the heroes in the films these days, they are still a lot of work, of course, and emotional. But there's also an action element that I would enjoy."
"It's time for that, right?" Is it? Seriously, we're asking: Is it time for an epochal presidential election to influence Hollywood casting? This town may have helped get Obama elected, but does it have the balls to prove it wasn't a fluke? And are women invited to the party?