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Movies & TV / Columns

The Movies/TV 8 Ball: Top 8 Bond Villains

November 3, 2015 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

Top 8 Bond Villains

Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! I’m your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You’re free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is “wrong” is just silly. With that in mind, let’s get right in to it!

This week James Bond invades movie theaters again. Spectre, the highly-anticipated latest film of the 007 franchise, is arriving in the US after a record-breaking UK release last weekend and audiences are very excited over it. One of the most intriguing developments has been the casting of Christoph Waltz in the role of the film’s villain, Franz Oberhauser. While some believe that the character may be a famous Bond villain in disguise, either way he seems destined to become one of the top men to ever threaten Bond. Bond villains are just as memorable as anything else about the franchise; a good villain can make an otherwise-bad Bond movie watchable, while a bad villain can sink a film that could have been great. This week, we’re looking at the greatest villains of the franchise’s lengthy history.

Caveat: A character was eligible for the list if they were primarily seen as a villain. There have been some characters that flipped from bad to good or vice versa; generally, I only considered them if they were the bad guys for the majority of their screen time. For example, that means that Vesper Lynd doesn’t qualify because while she did work against Bond, she was definitely more of a protagonist. In terms of ranking it came down to performance, characterization, impact and influence as a character and how serious of a threat the character was to bond.

Important Note: There are those out there who believe Waltz is playing a previous character, and I know that the truth of that is out there due to the film already hitting theaters overseas. Please don’t ruin it in the comments for people who haven’t seen it; if I catch such comments, I will delete them ASAP. And then I’ll be annoyed, because you’ll have spoiled it for me. Follow the Wheaton rule and Don’t Be a Dick. Thanks!

Just Missing The Cut

• Le Chiffre (Casino Royale)
• Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun)
• Elektra King (The World Is Not Enough)
• Max Zorin (A View to a Kill)
• Rosa Klebb (From Russia, with Love)

#8: Xenia Onatopp (GoldenEye)

First on our list this week is someone who is not only one of the better Bond henchmen, but the best female villain in franchise history. Some may scoff at the latter, as Bond has no doubt had a fair amount of great ladies as adversaries but Xenia Onatopp wins for me because she combines the classic silliness of the best Bond henchmen with the elements of Bond girls. Xenia is a former officer and fighter pilot in the Soviet Air Force who joins the Janus crime syndicate where she proves to be not only a ruthless killer, but an ecstatic one as well. I mean that quite literally; she is a sadist who loves to suffocate her victims during sex. That’s the kind of kitsch that just works within the franchise, and it’s put over the top by an inspired performance by Famke Janssen in her breakout role. She helped add a distinct element of fun to GoldenEye and had the added benefit of turning Bond’s philandering ways into a weapon against him.

#7: Raoul Silva (Skyfall)

The Daniel Craig era of James Bond has produced some memorable villains, including the blood-weeping Le Chiffre (who made the honorable mentions) and Jesper Christensen’s Mr. White. But all of them were topped by Skyfall’s Raoul Silva, who was played by Javier Bardem with his usual blend of menace and charm. Silva falls among those Bond villains with a score to settle, an archetype that has always added a certain level of intensity and urgency to their films. In Silva’s case the revenge isn’t against Bond but instead against M. The character gave Bardem a chance to play a dark reflection of who Bond could have been, a charming and cunning monster with a vendetta against the world. With a backstory that gives him perhaps the most horrific disfigurements in Bond villain history, Silva was instantly memorable and his face-offs with Bond were fantastic throughout the latest entry in the franchise.

#6: Alec Trevelyan (GoldenEye)

Alec Trevelyan is practically the prototype for the kind of villain that was developed in Raoul Silva. Much like Silva, the primary antagonist of GoldenEye is a dark reflection of Bond and has a score to settle. In this case however, it’s a bit more grandiose than just a problem with M; it’s with the whole of the UK. That raises the stakes just a bit and Sean Bean gave a performance that was every bit as committed as Bardem’s. Trevelyan was 006, a fellow MI6 agent whose apparent death at the beginning of the film weighs on Bond heavily. That he’s vindicated of that guilt when Alec turns out to have faked his death to betray MI6 isn’t much of a consolation. Trevelyan was a match for Bond in pretty much every way, and delivered one of the best taunts to 007 in franchise history when he says, “I might as well ask if all the vodka martinis ever silence the screams of the men you’ve killed. Or if you find forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women for all the dead ones you failed to protect.” He was Bond’s dark mirror in just about every way, putting him at a high spot in Bond villain history.

#5: Oddjob (Goldfinger)

There are two henchmen in Bond lore who are truly iconic. The first of them to make this list is Goldinger’s Oddjob, the sadistic killer who could behead you with his hat. Played by pro wrestler-turned-actor Harold Sakata, Oddjob is the chauffeur for Auric Goldfinger who also did a little killing when it called for it. He was powerful enough to take the head off of a statue with that steel-rimmed headgear and then later uses the same process to kill Tilly Masterson. It’s difficult to make a character memorable when they don’t have any appreciable dialogue, but Oddjob’s physical presence more than made up for his lack of lines. He earned his spot as one of the franchise’s more beloved bad guys.

#4: Dr. Julius No (Dr. No)

The first James Bond film had to make a strong impression in order to stand out as a potential film series, and one of the biggest reasons it succeeded in that was the portrayal of its titular villain. Joseph Wiseman was once referred to as “the spookiest actor in the American theatre” and he used all of those gifts to set the template for the Bond bad guys who would follow. Julius No was a classic Bond villain before the term even existed with his cold, clinical demeanor and metal hand. Wiseman was said to view the film and his role with disdain, which appears in part to be because it stereotyped him, but it also became a deeply influential role not only on the Bond franchise but in spy action-thrillers as a whole. No is an essential character within film lore and among 007 antagonists.

#3: Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker)

There are no Bond henchmen greater than Jaws. The giant mute mercenary with the steel teeth was a true force of nature in The Spy Who Loved Me, coming out as the absolute best thing about that film. Richard Kiel’s brute came across so well that he was brought back to menace Bond again in Moonraker — where he was again the best part. Kiel’s size made an impact of course, but he was also treated as a very serious threat which was the key for him. While the Bond films have a lot of gimmicky bad guys, the important thing is always to make them feel like they’re legitimately dangerous within the context of the film. Jaws exemplified that more than any other character and that’s what secures his place in Bond history.

#2: Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)

The top two Bond villains really set a near-impossible bar to reach for the rest. These are the true masters of Bondsian crime, and we start with the man who, like Dr. No and the #1 choice, set a lot of the hallmarks for the role of antagonist for 007. “No, Mr. Bond…I expect you to die” is perhaps the most well-known line in the history of James Bond bad guys, and it was delivered by this bad guy with a love of the elaborate deaths of his enemies. It’s a habit that has been poked fun at for decades, but that’s because it was such a great characteristic to make Goldfinger larger than life. Auric helped establish the high-style, charismatic style that some of the best successors would take after, and he was well-played by Gert Frobe in pitch-perfect casting to boot. He’s one of the most imitated and loved of all the Bond baddies, for good reason.

#1: Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Several)

There can be only one, and it had to be Blofeld. The head of SPECTRE will always be considered James Bond’s greatest nemesis for a variety reasons. Ernst Blofeld’s presence was felt throughout the early Bond era of film, starting with half-shadowy appearances in From Russia with Love and Thunderball before making his first full appearance as played by Donald Pleasance in You Only Live Twice. He would go on to threaten Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (played by Telly Savalas), Diamonds Are Forever (Charles Gray) and For Your Eyes Only (John Hollisas and Robert Rietty), as well as the non-EON Never Say Never Again by Max von Sydow.

That longevity alone would be enough to put him near the top, but it’s solidified by the fact that all involved gave great performances and the character was so well-defined. Of course, the character became the template for Dr. Evil and it’s easy to underestimate him because of that comedic association — the facial scar, the white cat, the volcanic lair and so on. But like Goldfinger, these are iconic because they were so well done, not because they were poorly done. He got great dialogue and has some of the best taunts to 007, ultimately proving to be the lengthy franchise’s greatest bad guy for sure.


And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don’t forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411wrestling.com! JT out.

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