According to Bill Maher, Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond made his character too soft and not manly enough — both are objectively erroneous criticism. Over the years, the image of the suave superspy James Bond has changed to reflect the cultural environment of each new 007 film. The 90s comedian Bill Maher recently stated that this led to Daniel Craig’s James Bond becoming a uniquely sensitive, effeminate version of Bond, which is a verifiable inaccurate statement.
In an interview with TikTok personality Hannah Stocking, Maher stated that Craig’s Bond was softer than his predecessors from the franchise. As the search for the perfect Bond 26 007 heats up, retrospectives of the Craig era have become numerous as commentators revisit the actor’s contribution to the James Bond franchise and how he changed the iconic character. A cursory glance at these flashbacks proves Maher wrong, and if anything, Craig’s version of James Bond was too tough to be funny.
In the Club Random podcast, Bill Maher claimed that Craig’s iteration of Bond softened the character and compromised his masculinity, saying, “This was when James Bond was allowed to love, for example, fucking hot chicks. You know, now they really fucked him. It’s so pathetic. He literally takes his girlfriend and her daughter on his mission to save the world. He practically stops at Target to buy tampons on his way to the underground lair.” As anyone who has watched “No Time to Die” can attest, Bond’s battle with Safin means he is not taking his girlfriend and daughter on a mission. Instead, Bond makes arrangements for them not to accompany him, but the villain from the film kidnaps them. Moreover, Craig’s James Bond iteration has slept with as many women as his predecessors, kills more people than his predecessors, and does so in a brutal and humorless manner, making him arguably the most stereotypically masculine 007 agent in the franchise.
Daniel Craig’s Bond is the most difficult in the franchise (by mistake)
Bill Maher is objectively incorrect in his claim that James Bond played by Craig slept with fewer women than earlier versions of the character. Craig’s agent slept with an average of two women per film, as much as Dalton’s 007 agent, and almost as much as Brosnan’s Bond. Not only did Bond, played by Craig, often indulge in lovelace, like his predecessors, but also the problem that Maher faces with his incorrectly remembered version of the plot of Madeleine Swann/Matilda, is also related to the Craig era’s approach to continuity and canon, rather than a change in cultural attitudes towards masculinity. Craig’s films told a linear story that evolved from film to film, which meant that this new Bond made sense to eventually have a long-term love interest.
The franchise experimented with this approach back in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” where Bond got married and tragically lost his wife, which made Maher’s outrage factually incorrect about another important part of Bond’s story. Moreover, however, Bill Maher misunderstood the reason why James Bond became a brooding, sensitive spy who cries, blaming “the awakened world we live in.” In fact, if the goofy Brosnan Bond from Goldeneye was perfect for the post-ironic 90s, Craig’s tortured 007 agent was an obvious reaction to the paranoia, anguish and pain characteristic of a post-9/11 spy movie. A more severe and gloomy version of James Bond performed by Craig was the result of the fact that viewers no longer wanted to watch stupid, mannered escapism after a historical event and the subsequent atmosphere of global instability, which led to films about Agent 007, in which the character was taken more seriously to interest the audience.