As much as I love movies about superheroes who fly at the speed of sound, or who can catch lightning bolts with their magic lassos, the ones I really relate to are the Black Widows, Batmans and Jason Bournes of the world.
For me, the best part of Iron Man 2 wasn’t Iron Man swooshing about in his beefed up red and gold metal suit, but that scene where Black Widow fights her way through a building full of big thuggish security guards. I can’t begin to tell you how thrilling it was to see her dive and leap, kick and body slam all those brutes.
That scene really resonates with me because I understand that you don’t need to have been born on Krypton to be able to do that or have a magic green ring to conjure up a giant glow-in-the-dark hammer. You just have to be committed enough to put in the hours to train and hone your skills so that, eventually, you, too, can effortlessly parkour across balconies and kill people with just a pen or a rolled-up magazine.
You’re probably wondering when I would ever need to maim anyone with a pen. But then I think back to my years in school where I was endlessly bullied and I can’t begin to tell you how many times that life skill might have come in handy.
It’s also why when my best friend May recently announced she was sending her daughter to ballet classes, I declared it was an absolute waste of time and money. “The world is a dangerous place full of predators, rapists, and muggers,” I told her. “What’s Mina going to do when she encounters one of them? Perform a pirouette?”
May blinked. Clearly, she’d not expected this response to her announcement of her child’s new extracurricular activity. “Uhm…”, she began.
“She needs to be able to knee the guy in the nuts!” I said, jerking my leg up as the ghosts of my childhood bullies rose in my memory. “Punch him in the throat, gauge out his eyes. And then run away!”
May blinked again.
“What she needs,” I went on, “is to learn krav maga! It’s what they teach the women in the Israeli army!”
When May later repeated this to Saffy, my flatmate’s bosom inflated. “I’m totally with Jason on this one. A few years ago? I met this girl who’d been in the Israeli army. She was all smiley and blonde and cute, but let me tell you, there was just something about the way she sat and looked at you that said she could kill you with a finger! Like how James Bond fights!”
So, James Bond is another superhero I can relate to. Beneath those amazingly cut suits, the guy is a total emotional mess with more mummy and abandonment issues you could poke a stick at. In other words, he’s completely relatable. Even when he’s jumping off buildings or strangling someone. Or taking off his clothes.
Ten minutes into the new James Bond movie, No Time to Die’, Saffy turned to Amanda and whispered, “I hope he shows his butt!”, to which Amanda whispered back, “I’d rather see the other side!”
Saffy stifled a laugh but still, an undignified snort escaped. Two rows down, someone turned around to look thinking, perhaps, that somehow, a pig had accidentally wandered into Theatre 2.
Much to the girls’ disappointment, the nudity count turned out to be a fat zero. Through all the thrilling car chases, shoot-outs, violent hand-to-hand combat in stairwells, bloody stabbings and mass poisonings, Daniel Craig unaccountably kept his pants on. The girls perked up during a brief island shower scene when Bond’s fabled chiseled pecs showed up on screen, but two seconds later, Saffy’s voice rang out in the darkness, “Wait! That’s it?!”
The appearance of Bond’s old lover cheered up the girls again. Amanda turned to me and whispered, “I’ll bet there’s going to be a hot reunion sex scene coming up!”
Well, that didn’t happen either. Instead, you got more shoot-outs, more maimings and people running around in dark corridors and splashing blood all over the koi pond. And all the while, Bond looked increasingly desperate, disheveled and traumatized without losing, for one second, his ability to kill.
I was thrilled. A week later, I have completely reconstructed all my childhood memories of bullying with me dispatching with chilling efficiency all my childhood demons — every action sequence ending with my school being completely vaporised by a shower of nuclear bombs.
The three of us emerged from the cinema, each of us dazed for our own reasons. I felt so incredibly energised and empowered. Amanda had a look of grim determination. “I really need to pee. My God, that was over two-and-a-half hours?!”
Behind her, a voice grumbled, “He didn’t even show his butt!”
No Time to Die is now in cinemas.