In thinking about masculinity on film, I’ve been looking at images of brutalized men, and how differently they function depending on the body types of the men involved; my examples are James Bond (as played by Daniel Craig) and Ben Whishaw. I call Bond the “brutalized subject,” and Whishaw the “brutalized object,” because in Bond’s case, the injuries done to his body–some of which he does to himself–tend to give him more power to act, not less; they are proof of his masculinity and strength. In Whishaw’s case, brutalization objectifies, disempowers, and often destroys him.
This is a pretty simplistic dichotomy, but oh so easy to illustrate; I’ll never get through all my examples in an hour. I planned to skip the obvious concluding scene, Craig and Whishaw together in Skyfall, because I thought it’d just be fangirl self-indulgence, and beside the point. But you know what? It’s not beside the point. It is the point. Whishaw and Craig in Skyfall present different versions of the masculinities they usually embody, and those differences are telling.