What do all superheroes and super agents have in common? Correct: They are only ever as exciting and fascinating as their opponents. Cult agent James Bond is no exception. But who are the best Bond villains of all time?
Where would the British secret spy be without all the legendary villains who, over the past 60 years or so, have tried to snatch his stylish shirt and nothing less than world domination (like every good, bad guy does!)?
A multifaceted, diabolical, and ruthless enemy is just as much a part of a Bond film as a Bond girl, a sleek car, and a martini. Who particularly stood out among all the villains splits the Bond fan community just as much as the eternal question of which actor was actually the best 007 agent. Let us ask you as well – which one is your favourite from all the movies?
Ernst Stavro Blofeld (8 films in total)
A powerful way to start our list of James Bond villains.
In Batman, it’s the Joker. In Superman, it’s Lex Luthor, and in the Avengers, it’s Thanos. And with James Bond? He has the German villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld as his archnemesis, who has been parodied umpteen times because of his cat infatuation and his (former) bald head, but which is ultimately the reason Bond exists at all: Blofeld, who grew up with Bond, is not only head of the terrorist organization Specter but also helped kill Bond’s wife. Though he’s been pulling the strings in the background since the very first film, it wasn’t until the sixth film that he first appeared – and was kind of here to stay.
Since ur-vile has many faces, it seems more than fitting that Blofeld has been played by several actors and always interpreted in very different ways: Donald Pleasence, Max von Sydow, Telly Savalas, Charles Gray, and (since “Spectre” ) Christoph Waltz in the role of Evil Mastermind. Today he remains one of the Top 10 James Bond villains.
Auric Goldfinger (“Goldinger”, 1964)
He’s fat, he’s red-haired, he’s arrogant, sly, sneaky, eccentric, usually in a good mood, and would like to paralyze the world currency system with poison gas to increase the value of his own gold reserves. He gathers an audience of evil criminals, tells them every detail of his villain’s plan, and then kills them with poison gas as well, bringing back horrible memories of a horrific time. How so? Because he can. And because “being bad” is his hobby.
He not only provided the most legendary murder in “Bond” history (Bond girl Jill Masterson suffocated in agony because he covered her with gold) but also the most legendary Bond quote (“Mr. Bond, I expect you to die! “) but also wanted to laser away Sean Connery.
Oh yes, the film and the film theme song are also named after him. We’d say: Auric Goldfinger is legendary, and rightly so. And Gerd Fröbe played it with such a frighteningly nihilistic intensity that even Bond’s knees trembled.
Le Chiffre (“Casino Royale”, 2006)
The always smartly dressed and blood-crying Le Chiffre is the main antagonist in “Casino Royale,” the first Bond novel by Ian Fleming from 1953. However, he only appeared in the Bond film universe in 2006.
Le Chiffre may not want to conquer the world like his colleagues, but he is the perfect metaphor for the ice-cold and all-dominating capitalism: he knows better than anyone else how to help his clientele to make gigantic fortunes through clever stock market speculations – which is not so good, because Le Chiffre belongs to Spectre, so the clientele is a rather unpleasant party.
Legendary is the nerve-wracking poker game between Le Chiffre (awesomely brilliant: Mads Mikkelsen) and Bond (Daniel Craig), in which nothing less than the financing of international terror is at stake. And James will remember the torture scene in which “little Bond” in particular had to suffer forever. We can’t ignore Le Chiffre in our Bond villains list.
Dr. No (“James Bond chases Dr. No,” 1962)
Even the very first Bond villain had it all: from a small island, Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) with a brilliant mind and hands of metal to take revenge on the US, which misjudged his genius. He’s a snobby intellectual whose word is a law: his cascade of henchmen are willing to die for his cause, which Dr. No is fully aware – and makes him even more dangerous.
Also Dr. No is already a member of Spectre, so he’s already guiding Bond in the direction the agent will take in the decades to come. Also, in terms of elegance, ego, and abysmal evil, Dr. No standards – not least thanks to the ingenious playing of Joseph Wiseman, whose distinctive voice also gives the character something chilling. You can’t mention classic Bond villains without him.
Raoul Silva (“Skyfall”, 2012)
The highly intelligent cyberterrorist may be the newcomer among the Bond villains. Still, he has already secured a permanent place in agent film history. With a hairstyle gone wrong, a disfigured face, a broken upper jaw, an unparalleled ruthlessness, and plenty of homoerotic insinuations, the former MI6 agent is on a salvage mission of revenge. It has its sights not only on Bond but also on M (Judi Dench).
As is well known, when it gets personal, the threat takes on completely new dimensions – and with emotional force, Silva writes sad red lines in the wind. A tragic monster that screams furiously for justice and ruthlessly demands it. Javier Bardem is reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight with his natural play, which always balances on the border between genius and madness. If anyone can bring down the sky, it’s Silva. He deserves a mention in our James Bond villains list.
Francisco Scaramanga (“The Man with the Golden Gun,” 1974)
The eponymous man with a colt made of 24-carat gold goes by the evocative name of Francisco Scaramanga. He is Bond’s evil counterpart, his black mirror, so to speak: deadly, charming, handsome, stylish, and an absolute professional at what he does. The professional assassin, who only needs a single shot a job and has a third nipple, is only ostensibly after Bond (Moore) when in fact, he’s after a device that can generate electricity from solar energy – something that’s in the was still a utopian fantasy in the 1970s.
On his small island, he engages in a deadly duel with MI6 agents in a mirror maze that blurs the lines between deception and fantasy. Scaramanga is ruthless and easygoing at the same time. Under different circumstances, he and Bond would be good martini buddies. The multi-layered acting of Christopher Lee absolutely upgrades the otherwise not entirely successful film: With every look, every gesture, it shows how many nuances are hidden behind Scaramanga’s smart façade. We can’t forget him among the Top 10 bond villains.
Jaws (“The Spy Who Loved Me,” 1977, “Moonraker,” 1979)
The only villain in the Bond universe who is reminiscent of classic comic book villains, which makes the Jaws both bizarre and wacky as well as fascinating and mysterious: the 2.17-meter tall giant (Richard Kiel) has steel teeth that pulverize even thick iron cables can, and is not a man of big words, but superhumanly strong.
Not even plane crashes, and train accidents can harm him. It goes without saying that Bond (Roger Moore) works up a sweat with the Jaws! Actually, biter should have died at the end of “The Spy Who Loved Me,” but he was so well received in the screen test that he was allowed to come back before he finally had to bless his age.
Oddjob (“Goldfinger”, 1964)
In 1964, James “Sean Connery” Bond had his hands full of ridding the world of dangerous and also quite bizarre fools: not only did Goldfinger give him a lot, but his henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata) also proved to be a really annoying pebble in the shiny shoe.
Ever since his memorable appearance in Goldfinger, the taciturn but incredibly strong and fiercely loyal Korean has been the blueprint for cinematic villain sidekicks. Oddjob kicks Bond’s ass in hand-to-hand combat. Even Jackie Chan would be proud of his karate skills.
His elegant clothes not only fit like a glove, but they are also a deadly weapon for Oddjob: When he throws his melon with the integrated blades at Bond, then he too can only hope for the best. But the scariest thing about Oddjob is his occasional smile and smug contentment. Oh yes: like Blofeld, he loves cats – but not to pet them, but to eat them. Sympathetic guy!
Alec Trevelyan (“GoldenEye”, 1995)
The only Pierce Brosnan-Bond-era villain to make our list, Bond shares a more personal connection with Alex Trevelyan (Sean Bean) than any other villain in the franchise—and even more so than Scaramanga, Trevelyan represents the dark, evil side of 007.
Initially fighting along with Bond, the former 006 agent defected to the enemy to take revenge on England for the death of his parents. So in “GoldenEye” the enemy comes from within, which made Trevelyan Bond’s most challenging opponent when: not only does he know all the tricks, all the secrets, and all the fighting styles of his former partner, he also knows about all the bruises Bond’s battered soul.
Trevelyan knows where it hurts James – and where he needs to step. Apropos: In contrast to Bond, Trevelyan wears his mental scars clearly visible on his face, which underlines the metaphor of the evil twin even more clearly. He’s certainly one of the most dangerous Bond villains.
Donald “Red” Grant (“From Russia With Love,” 1963)
In the second Bond film, Specter wants to credit James Bond for eliminating Dr. No, so they send out a ruthless but sexy killing machine to take down Bond (Connery). Donald “Red” Grant, a Soviet agent with a deadly watch, was only trained to kill Bond. Grant is a fascinating conglomerate of charisma, decadence, stoic and ice coldness, of course perfectly dressed and very good-looking, which also makes him seem like a “bad Bond.” As a viewer, you feel both attracted to and repelled by him.
When Robert Shaw flashes his deep blue but callous eyes as Grant, it sends chills down not only Bond but also the audience. The brutal, fascinating fight between the two enemy agents on the noble Orient Express, accompanied by pointed dialogues, is one of the best scenes in the entire Bond film history.
These are the best James Bond villains of all time – different eras, different 007’s. Do you agree with us?
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