Bond is back — and so are the girls [SLIDESHOW]

Hallelujah — a new Bond film has been greenlit, according to MGM and EON Productions.

The unnamed 23rd installment of the 007 adventures was delayed for some time because of the studio’s financial troubles, but thankfully a deal was struck to save it and the movie is due for release in the fall of 2012.

While we’re sure of some cast members: Daniel Craig to return as Bond … James Bond, Judi Dench as Bond’s boss and Michael Sheen as the villain, we are not certain who will play the most important role of all — the next Bond girl.

We know you might be under the misapprehension that James Bond is the most important character in the series, but who is James Bond without a Bond girl? It may sound silly, but it’s true. While her sex appeal is paramount, the girl in question serves to bewitch and beguile the hero, holding the power to give him pain or pleasure at any moment.

Whether allies, victims, villains, enemies or merely eye candy, they have a habit of stealing the show while looking smashing. Here is a look back at our favorite Bond girls, and a prediction for who will play the coveted role in 2012:

Click an image below for larger version.
  • The next Bond girl? While we have absolutely no idea who she'll be (sorry, false advertising), we’d put out money on Rachel Weisz, who is reportedly in talks with director Sam Mendes to star opposite her rumored new love interest … James Bond himself.
  • Eva Green as Vesper Lynd, Casino Royale, 2006 – Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Green’s character is her name: “Vesper.” Her parents allegedly name her after the Latin word meaning evening, then Bond decides to name a martini after her, giving rise to the “shaken, not stirred” line. For the first time, the name for the drink and recipe is said on screen during the 2006 film.
  • Halle Berry as Jinx, ‘Die Another Day,’ 2002 - Halle Berry emerged from the water like a goddess in a nod to Ursula Andress’s iconic entrance in ‘Dr. No’, with a similar curve-hugging bikini, though this time in a bright orange hue. Just after winning her Oscar, Berry played a U.S. agent who gets hot and heavy with Bond before being tortured and killed by the villain, Mr. Kil.
  • Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones, ‘The World is Not Enough,’ 1999 – Dr. Christmas (don’t make fun of her name, she doesn’t like it) Jones is a nuclear physicist (ha ha) working in Azerbaijan to dismantle nuclear warheads in order to reduce the Russian inventory. While we were not convinced that Denise Richards was capable of such a job, she did persuade us that she deserved to be a Bond girl.
  • Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin, Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997 – The Hong Kong martial-arts queen is the only Bond girl with credentials to be a stuntwoman. Though she didn’t do all her own stunts, she did choreograph many of them.
  • Fiona Fullerton as Pola Ivanova, ‘A View to a Kill,’ 1985 – Bond encounters Pola, a Soviet agent from Bond’s past, during a battle outside a testing facility when he suddenly recognizes her. He then later seduces her in a hot tub (pictured).
  • Carole Bouquet as Melina Havelock, ‘For Your Eyes Only,’ 1981 – When Melina's parents are killed, she seeks revenge for their deaths and saves Bond's life in the process. She’s best remembered for her haunting beauty (she was also a Chanel model in the 90’s) and ability to handle a crossbow.
  • Barbara Bach as Maj. Anya Amasova , ‘The Spy Who Loved Me,’ 1977 – Bach, aka Mrs. Ringo Starr, plays a KGB agent seeking revenge against Bond after he kills her lover. Powerless to his charms, she can’t bring herself to kill him and instead winds up in a room with only Bond, a king-sized bed and champagne. 
They just talked.
  • Maud Adams as Andrea Anderson in ‘The Man With Golden Gun,’ 1974, the mysterious Octopussy in ‘Octopussy,’ 1983, and as an extra in ‘A View to a Kill,‘ 1985 – Adams is the sole Bond girl to appear in three 007 epics, though only two were major roles. After the first film, she was catapulted to international fame and enjoyed a successful career in both the United States and Sweden as a result.
  • Diana Rigg as Tracy Di Vicenzo, ‘On Her Majesty's Secret Service,’ 1969 – Rigg starred as Bond’s one true love in the only Bond film featuring George Lazenby. Unlike in any other Bond film, Tracy and James marry at the end of the movie – but, to avoid an overlapping Bond girl, she is gunned down just minutes after the wedding.
  • Claudine Auger as Domino Derval, ‘Thunderball,’ 1965 – Auger, a former Miss France, plays a sea diver and mistress of Emilio Largo who is seduced by Bond (Sean Connery) when he informs her that Largo murdered her brother.
  • Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson, ‘Goldfinger,’ 1964 - Jill Masterson is the girlfriend of and spy for Auric Goldfinger, the villain. He eventually kills her after covering her in gold paint, a scene which remains one of the most iconic scenes in Bond movie history. As a result of her role, Eaton became a sixties icon, appearing on numerous magazine covers including ‘Life.’
  • Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore, ‘Goldfinger,’ 1964 - The captain of Auric Goldfinger's all-girl pilot squad, Pussy Galore's Flying Circus, Blackman played a dominatrix with an intense dislike for men, except 007, of course. She soon changed her tune and joined Bond’s efforts to defeat Goldfinger.
  • Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova, ‘From Russia With Love,’ 1963 – A Russian secretary who is charged with luring Bond to Istanbul fails miserably, and instead falls for 007 in the process. Interestingly, Bianchi’s voice was dubbed throughout the film because her thick Italian accent was deemed too thick.
  • Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder, ‘Dr. No,’ 1962 – The first Bond girl ever, Andress rose from the sea in a skimpy white bikini singing "Underneath the Mango Tree,” and in an instant set the standard for all Bond girls to follow.