With the recent announcement that two-time Academy Award winner Christoph Waltz would be joining James Bond 24, we here at Grizzly Bomb thought we’d take a stab at listing the top 10 best Bond villains in the franchise’s 50-year history.
Waltz is capable of exuberant charm and manipulative anger, making him an absolutely apt choice for Bond’s newest nemesis. It’s still unconfirmed whether or not that will indeed be Waltz’s role. We do know that Chiwetel Ejiofor was in the running to be the next Bond villain back in April, but the deal fell through. We can only assume Christoph Waltz is now up for said villainous role, with whispers that Bond’s SPECTRE-running adversary Ernst Stavro Blofeld is the main villain. We can just see the glee in which Waltz will take with such a role if it proves true. Stay tuned for more updates on that.
The 24th Bond film will again star Daniel Craig, with Ralph Fiennes set to reappear as “M.” Ben Whishaw and Naomie Harris will also return as “Q” and Moneypenny. The film will be written by John Logan and directed by Sam Mendes (the two making a return from the fantastic Skyfall).
Now on to the main event, Grizzly Bomb’s rankings of our ten favorite James Bond Baddies in the 50-plus history of one of the most successful franchises in movie history, and showing no signs of slowing anytime soon.
10. Elektra King
One of two main villains in 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, Elektra King was one of Bond’s most underrated adversaries. In typical (yet becoming slightly tedious) Bond fashion, one of the Bond Girls ends up being one of the Bond Baddies, but what a baddie indeed. The scene in which Elektra begins to tighten a brace around Bond’s neck, slowing edging towards snapping it, is as memorable as Bond strapped to the laser-In-Waiting table of Goldfinger or testicle-torture chair in Casino Royale. Sophie Marceau plays King as a devious and manipulative individual, at once wounded and vulnerable giving away to violence and sadomasochism.
9. Francisco Scaramanga
A common theme for many Bond villains is their ability to be a mirror-image of 007 himself, as if they were Bond after being pushed a little too far in any dastardly direction. Scaramanga is a world-class assassin for hire, most notable for using his all-gold gun crafted out of many every-day items (cigarette case, lighter, pen, etc.). Along with his henchman Nick-Nack, Scaramanga makes The Man With The Golden Gun a true classic in the franchise. Little piece of trivia: Christopher Lee, who played Scaramanga, was a relative of James Bond author Ian Fleming, and also one of the most badass people alive.
The quintessential henchman, this Bond villain was more of a physical match for 007 than the main baddie in his movie, and would set the stage for others such as Jaws and Mayday in future installments. Oddjob’s character derived from the novel, where he was trained in Karate, and ate cats (yep). He’s mostly remembered for his signature steel-rimmed bowler hat that can be thrown with such velocity as to break necks or slice off the heads of statues.
Seemingly larger than life, Jaws was a physical adversary for 007 through two movies. 7-foot Richard Kiel brought to life the steel toothed giant, lending the film a unique charm. He proved so popular in The Spy Who Loved Me that the producers brought him back for the next film, Moonraker. Though his character appeared in one of the franchise’s cheesiest times (that would probably be reserved for Roger Moore’s eighties endeavors), Jaws is still one of the most well-remembered Bond characters, even though he was originally just a second-tier henchmen for the bigger megalomania-suffering baddies.
6. Le Chiffre
When Sony decided to reboot the Bond franchise (somewhat) by going back to the series’ source novels, they needed to bring Bond into the 21st century courtesy of a more down-to-earth story (no wind surfing from a giant laser beam in this one), and a villain that felt more ripped from the headlines than a world-dominating madman. Audiences today are very aware of the dark creepiness of Mads Mikkelsen courtesy of NBC’s Hannibal (one of best shows on TV) but this was the introduction we got, and what an intro it was. A Card-playing, blood-crying, terrorist financier who was equally debonair and dastardly. His stand-out moment, when Le Chiffre has to resort to testicle-torturing Bond by way of the most intimidating rope you’re likely to see.
5. Red Grant
SPECTRE’s hired assassin, Red Grant was a formidable opponent for 007. One that made From Russia With Love one of the finest installments in the franchise. Played by Robert Shaw (Jaws), the final battle between he and Connery is a highlight in the history of fight scenes, factor in that it’s all happening in close-quarters and you have an incredibly tense sequence that holds up to this day. Red Grant was also the first in a long line of very memorable “secondary-villains” or henchmen, usually employed by the villain pulling all the strings (in the case of Russia, Rosa Klebb and the leader of SPECTRE, Blofeld).
A classic if there were one, Auric Goldfinger is a quintessential Bond villain, often copied but never bettered. Stack on the European accent, the exuberant and flamboyant style, the plot for world-domination by stealing the world’s supply of gold…sure! German actor Gert Frobe played the role of Goldfinger, and though he could hardly speak English (his voice was dubbed) he still delivered one of the most famous lines of any Bond film: “No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”. ‘Nuff said.
3. Alec Trevelyan (006)
A former 00-Agent and head of the Janus Crime Syndicate, Sean Bean portrayed the role of Trevelyan with perfect disdain. Betrayed by his own country, Trevelyan sought retribution by taking control of the GoldenEye satellite targeting system, all the while trying to thwart his old friend and partner, James Bond. The character is often associated with Janus (two-face) making him the other-side of 007, who Bond could become if he were merely pushed too far, made to do one too many questionable missions. Bean and Brosnan were perfectly matched, leaving Goldeneye one of the most revered and well-remembered in the Bond franchise.
2. Ernst Stavro Blofeld
Blofeld is often considered Bond’s greatest nemesis. He appeared in more films than any other baddie and was at the root of Bond’s grief (killing the one woman 007 tied the knot with in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). He was an integral part of the Blofeld trilogy of novels Thunderball, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and You Only Live Twice and even made appearance in subsequent films like Diamonds Are Forever and in the intro in For Your Eyes Only. Blofeld’s iconic scarred eye in You Only Live Twice was the basis for Mike Myers’ depiction of Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers films, solidifying the franchise’s power of influence. But where Blofeld’s slight cartoony nature ends, is where our number 1 Bond villain takes over. With the possibility that Christoph Waltz may be the fourth (fifth if you count Blofeld’s appearance in For Your Eyes Only) We may get a chance to see SEPCTRE’s nemoro uno back on the big screen.
1. Raoul Silva
Javier Bardem knocked it out of the park in 2012’s Skyfall. Perhaps it would be safer to go with a Bond villain with a little more history, giving the passage of time the final say, but we believe in going for broke here at Grizzly Bomb. Silva brought an edge to the Bond series that was only touched upon in previous installments. Able to weaponize his sexuality for the use of intimidation, Silva brought whole new dimensions to a Bond villain of the 21st Century. Where the cinematic versions of a villain like Blofeld were usually met with multiple interpretations and very little development in any one single film, Skyfall‘s Silva makes a single, intense and odd-ball appearance. Mending true-to-life threats such as cyber terrorism and an iconic look (a blond-haired appearance meant to illicit comparisons to Julian Asange…). Silva was a villain in the vein of Heath Ledger’s Joker, always on top of the plan, a damaged, deranged yet incredibly intelligent adversary, having a bone to pick with the very fabric of M.I.6. The character of Silva made Skyfall one of the best, dare we say The best Bond film in the franchise’s history.
There you have it, the top ten best Bond villains. Can we expect to one day had Christoph Waltz to the list. If Inglourious Basterds is any indication then chances are very, very good.
James Bond 24 is scheduled to hit theaters November 6, 2015.
Images: MGM, Sony, 20th Century Fox, Weinstein Co. EON Productions