As the world's suavest spy, whose talents in the field are matched only by his powers of seduction, James Bond would appear to be an unlikely standard bearer for feminism; until now.
The next instalment of 007 will see the spy in a less "sexist" role than ever before, the actor Daniel Craig has said, as he admits: "The world has changed."
For the new film, Spectre, Craig told Esquire magazine that he would instead bring "weight and meaning" to the role. Craig, who has disclosed Spectre is likely to be his final appearance as Bond, said the new film would consciously make its parts for women as empowering as possible, to counteract Bond's own behaviour.
In his first interview about Spectre, Craig said the 24th Bond film would be "Skyfall times 10". But he added: "Hopefully my Bond is not as sexist and misogynistic as [earlier incarnations]. The world has changed.
"I am certainly not that person. But he is, and so what does that mean? It means you cast great actresses and make the parts as good as you can for the women in the movies." In recent years, the film franchise has endured criticism over its treatment of women, with critics calling for the role of the Bond Girl to be updated.
This time, director Sam Mendes has cast Monica Bellucci, the oldest actress to fill such a role. He is reported to have told her: "For the first time in history, James Bond is going to have a story with a mature woman. The concept is revolutionary."
The latest film will see Bond battle a mysterious and sinister organisation known as Spectre, and will star Christoph Waltz as villain Franz Oberhauser, Lea Seydoux as psychologist Dr Madeleine Swann, and Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra, the widow of an assassinated mafioso.
Craig said that, following Skyfall, the cast and crew were "understandably daunted" after creating the "biggest British movie of all time", and asking themselves: "Where do we go from there? How do you process that?"
He said: "It could have been an albatross around everyone's necks. It turned out not to be, but there was a massive amount of pressure at the beginning."
Despite his devotion to the films, Craig suggested this may be his last appearance in the role, paving the way for heightened speculations over who will fill his shoes. When asked if he would continue in the franchise, he said: "At this moment, no. I have a life and I've got to get on with it a bit. But we'll see."
Craig, who is married to actress Rachel Weisz, did not spell out his next career move, but confessed the financial benefits had helped ameliorate concerns about being typecast as Bond.
"You know, it sounds awful but I've been left a wealthy man by doing this. I can afford to live very comfortably ... I'm incredibly fortunate.
"But the day I can walk into a pub and someone goes, 'Oh, there's Daniel Craig' and then just leaves me alone, that'll be great."
The Daily Telegraph, London