Words: Will Stroude
No Time To Die has finally arrived in UK cinemas, and as well as marking Daniel Craig's final outing as 007, the James Bond franchise's 25th instalment includes a small but important moment for another long-established character.
Q, the MI6 tech expert played by Ben Whishaw since 2012's Skyfall, has rarely had his personal life outside of the British Secret Service explored during the film series' almost 60-year history, but No Time To Die appears to confirm that the character is gay.
While Bond films and novels have previously included LGBTQ or LGBTQ-coded characters such as Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd in 1971's Diamonds Are Forever, they have almost exclusively been villains and regressive caricatures whose sexuality is not explicitly addressed.
In No Time To Die, a (*minor spoiler alert*) now-retired James Bond (Craig) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) turn up unannounced at Q's flat to ask him for help gathering information.
A smartly-dressed Q is seen preparing dinner and setting the table for what appears to be a romantic meal for two, and when it becomes apparent his evening is going to be interrupted, the tech whizz exasperatedly tells Bond and Moneypenny: "He'll be here in 20 minutes!"
The implication that Q is getting ready for a dinner date with a man is clear, and the scene certainly marks an important moment of evolution for the Bond franchise.
There is likely to be debate about the blink-and-you'll miss it moment, however: It could be argued that the line of dialogue is a sweet, subtle and natural way to acknowledge Q's sexuality. It could just as easily be argued that the the lack of any direct reference to sexuality - say, through a romantic exchange or LGBTQ terminology - makes this a 'coming out' so soft that some viewers (or, more importantly, censors in some of Bond's global markets) might miss it altogether.
Either way, it's worth noting that Bond's other MI6 colleagues and friends such as Moneypenny and M (Ralph Fiennes) haven't had their personal lives addressed in this way during their appearances on screen, so Q's 'male dinner date moment' is a noteworthy and deliberate move by producers.
Q seemingly being established as gay in No Time To Die comes amid continued conversations about diversity in action movie franchises such as the Bond series.
Speaking to Attitude ahead of the film's UK release on Thursday (30 September), Ben Whishaw confirmed he'd support an out gay British actor being cast as Daniel Craig's 007 replacement, saying it would mark "real progress" in an industry where LGBTQ actors still struggle to land high profile straight roles.
“I really believe that we should be working towards a world where anyone can play anything and it would be really thrilling if it didn’t matter about someone’s sexuality to take on a role like this. I think that would be real progress," said Whishaw, 40.
“But we’ll see, we’ll see where we’re at. I’m amazed by how much has changed just in the last five or six years, so we’ll see.”
No Time To Die is in cinemas now.