Remi Malek as Safin: a trope to be forgotten?

With the release of the new James Bond trailer of No time to Die, it’s almost exhausting to see that the film franchise has conformed to the cliché of a facially disfigured villain.

The trailer shows Remi Malek’s character Safin limping across a frozen lake presenting a broken mask revealing a partially scarred face.

This particular character trope is one that Bond films is no stranger to. Take a quick look at previous villains and you’ll see a reccurring theme. Alec Trevelyan, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (played by Donald Pleasence, pictured below) and Franz Sanchez all feature some sort of facial wound to signify their villainy.

Jaws, perhaps the most infamous Bond baddie, so-named due to his metallic teeth. Zao featured diamonds lodged in his face as the result of an explosion and Raoul Silva removes a dental face implant to reveal missing teeth and a sunken face in Skyfall.

All this begs the question: when are the films going to stop using disabilities or disfigurement as a symbol for evil?

2018 saw a step forward with the Changing Faces ‘I Am Not Your Villain’ campaign, a movement that urged the film industry to stop using scars, marks or burns as a shorthand for wrongdoing. It made waves across the world and resulted with the British Film Industry refusing to fund films featuring scared villains. This latest trailer shows that Bond may well be stuck in a past the rest of the industry wishes to move on from.

It seems as though the acclaimed franchise is improving with altering stereotypes elsewhere. The latest film features a black woman as the new 00 agent, for the first time in its history, and who remembers the female liberation of the character M in 1995 as Dame Judy Dench took over the previously male role?

If such movements can be made regarding these serious issues, surely a villain without some sort of disability should be a blindingly obvious move for the franchise to make. Maybe the next villain can just sport a dodgy haircut or a bad fashion sense?