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What Makes A Good Bond Villain?

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I bet you’re asking, “What makes a good Bond villain?” When it comes to struggles of good vs. evil, we many times remember what the hero did to save the day/world/universe. However, truly memorable stories are the ones that have an equally epic villain to challenge the hero. Darth Vader, The Emperor, Voldemort, Sauron, The Joker, Magneto, Loki, and on and on. You can recall those great villains because they made an impact on you.

When it comes to the James Bond films, the villains are in a class all their own that we have collectively dubbed, the “Bond Villains.” Over the years, we’ve seen a variety of them. From the good, to the bad, to the weird. So I’m here today to break down what I think it takes to be a great Bond Villain.

No. 1: Presence

skyfall-3

You can’t teach this, you have to exude it. Presence is the psychological trigger  for an audience member. When you see an imposing presence onscreen, you know it. “Dang, that’s an impressive person.” Yes, you can be over the top, and spit plenty of one-liners, but presence, is what can sell you even more than those things.

Two great examples of this are the villains of what many consider the two best Bond films, Goldfinger and Skyfall.

The latter had Javier Bardem portray a believed dead member of MI6 named Raoul Silva. He came back to haunt M and the organization through attacks both physical and cyber-based. What instantly made him memorable though was his entrance scene.

Bond was tied to a chair, the room filled with computers. Then, at the other end, the doors open, and he walks in. The camera stays fixed, not zooming in at all. And Silva just slowly walks into the room, doing a “typical” monologue for Bond. What was different though, was that he didn’t boast, he didn’t raise his voice, he was calm the whole time. He slowly approached Bond, talking the whole time he did. When he was done, and reached Bond to look him in the face, you knew he was a threat.

The rest of the film let Bardem show off Silva’s madness, including some over-the-top moments that he sold very well. But that opening scene was all it took for him to become a memorable Bond villain.

For Goldfinger, it was all about how he carried himself. He was always open to a challenge, especially when it meant winning money or gold. And when he got hoodwinked by Bond, you knew there would be a price to pay. Even when he got set back in his plans, he kept calm, never getting flustered, he adapted and made good on many of threats he made. He was also heartless, as he proved when he killed numerous men within the span of a few minutes, only to laugh when asked about them. Like Bardem, he did it quiet, with a chuckle. He was rarely ever phased.

While many Bond Villains acted like over the top villains, that didn’t mean the others were less memorable. Sometimes its subtlety that speaks volumes.

2. The Look

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I’ll be fair, this doesn’t apply to all Bond Villains, but a fair majority of them did have unique looks. For proof of this look no further than Dr. No, the original Bond Film, and the original Bond Villain.

Dr. No didn’t appear for much of the film, but the moment James (and us by extension) saw him, we knew this was the end boss. Much like presence, simplicity goes a long way here. Dr. No had a very simple look that made him imposing: the shirt, the hair, and of course, the metal hands. Dr. No also had presence about him, but the look sold him near instantly.

Another classic is one we may be seeing really soon in upcoming Bond films: Ernst Starvo Blofeld.

Though there have been many faces to Blofeld, the most iconic one is the one we see in You Only Live Twice. The bald-headed, heavily scarred, cat-petting leader of Spectre. Though now comical thanks to Dr. Evil from Austin Powers, Blofeld was the pinnacle of evil. His presence (and his cat) made him a legend before he truly and officially appeared on screen. Once he did, you knew this guy was for real.

3. The Plan

Goldfinger (1964)

Let’s be honest here, you can have the look of an evil villain, but if you don’t have the plan of one? What was the point? Right?

Bond Villains have to prove they are worthy of facing James Bond, and by that I mean they’re a threat worthy of his (and by extension MI6’s) time. So having a plan that is truly diabolical in one way or another is key.

The fun part is, it doesn’t need to be about taking over the world. Silva wanted to make M suffer for her betrayal of him when he was an agent. In Moonraker, Hugo Drax stole a space shuttle so he could wipe out the world’s population, then use his hand selected people to repopulate it. In You Only Live Twice, Spectre was all but forcing WWIII to try and extort China.

But my personal favorite though is Goldfinger. The entire time, you’re thinking that Goldfinger is trying to rob Fort Knox. In fact, he told numerous people he would, even devised a well-thought out plan to do so. But in true villainous fashion, he pulled a switcheroo. He wasn’t going to rob Fort Knox, he was just going to make sure no one could enter it for a long time. Setting off a bomb to make all that gold worthless, and his supply all the more precious. Brilliant.

4. The Henchmen

oddjob

Every villain needs a henchman, and Bond has had some memorable ones. Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, Sandor, and more have earned the greatness of being part of some memorable movies.

But the two, that are most remembered, are Jaws and Oddjob. In fact, Jaws was in two Bond films! Both of them had what many a true Bond Film needed to have, looks and presence. Jaws was tall, muscular, viscious, and of course, he had the teeth. The man was electrocuted, thrown off a train, and came back for more! He had to die in space because nothing on Earth itself could kill him!

Oddjob was just as fun. Short, stocky, didn’t say a word of English, but he had that hat! The hat that spawned a myth and legend (that was later disproven by Mythbusters) was jaw dropping when we first saw it. And most heartbreakingly, it was the hat that killed Oddjob.

The henchman of Bond films can be seen as mini-bosses of a sort. You have to go through them to get to the main villain. Spectre is set to have Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx be the main henchman, he has a legacy to live up to, that’s for sure.

In the end, Bond Villains can be just as important as James himself. They give weight to the situation, and show why this movie is happening in the first place. When a good Bond Villain comes into the fold, the movie is instantly remembered. It’ll be fun to see what future Bond Villains we get.