Every hero needs a good villain. In the case of James Bond, it’s an essential part of his paycheque. Without an imminent threat to national security, Bond the civil servant may as well stay at home and practice his Backgammon. In light of six new Bond posters being released, we decided to consider what it takes to make a great Bond villain.
In April 2020, it was announced that Oscar-winner (and GQ cover star) Rami Malek would join the ranks of Francisco Scaramanga and Oddjob as latest Bond villain, the mysterious Safin. But what does he need if he is to be the baddest of the bad?
To lend a (metal-clawed) hand, we present the secret sauce for creating a truly great double-oh foe, with cues taken from the most memorable antagonists in MI6 history.
A Nefarious Name
Ian Fleming's male villains were typically military personnel of the Soviet Union, and they had the names to match. If yours sounds like that of a human resources manager, consider switching to a moniker fit for an over-the-top megalomaniac. How do you come up with one of those, you ask? An internet quiz, obviously.
Who did it best? Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me). "His name's Jaws. He kills people." Short and sweet. Absolutely nothing like this seven-foot three near-silent assassin.
An Evil Plan
A Bond villain is nothing without his evil ambition. With no machiavellian scheme to thwart, 007 is out of a job, and you're left with an expensive tank of ill-tempered sea bass to maintain. Tax evasion? Snore. Using a deadly nerve agent to eradicate humankind before repopulating earth with a race of ridiculously good-looking people? Score.
Who did it best? Elliot Carver (Tomorrow Never Dies). Jonathan Pryce's media mogul turned supervillain would have been totally preposterous were it not for the benefit of hindsight. Imagine a world where a man controlling the news agenda had all the power. Oh, wait.
A Secret Lair
How many nuclear submarines are you going to steal from your one-bedroom apartment? Zero. That's how many. Key to crafting a memorable supervillain is the sort of pad that would make Elon Musk blush. Think a heavily guarded, maximum-security prison in space or a castle made entirely of ice stolen from the polar ice caps.
Who did it best? Ernst Stavro Blofeld (You Only Live Twice). The first rule of Bond villain economics is go big or go home. Blofeld's volcano is arguably the most extravagant of all hideouts. Central heating included, presumably.
A Lethal Weapon
Let's face it, you're never actually going to kill James Bond. There will come a point when you could just shoot him and be done with it, but you won't. For that reason, make your weapon of choice – be it dangerous millinery or metal mandibles – as ludicrous as you like.
Who did it best? Rosa Klebb (From Russia With Love). The poison-tipped knife shoe worn by SPECTRE No. 3 is subtle yet genius. As anyone who’s ever received a kick to the shin during a five-a-side match knows, sometimes you’d welcome the sweet embrace of death.
A Villainous Look
Patrick Bateman, Tony Montana, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, it's clear that good style isn't limited to the kind-hearted. While we're not about to suggest you go out and get yourself a gnarly face scar, we would advocate investing in a signature look, be it a grey two-piece or surprisingly on-trend boiler suit.
Who did it best? Safin (No Time To Die). You might think we're biased picking our inaugural cover star for this one. That is until you see Rami Malek's slick-haired Safin wearing a cape-style coat similar to the kimono-esque outfit worn by Joseph Wiseman's Dr No all those years ago.
A Killer Speech
Two hours of James Bond driving around in an Aston Martin trying to catch a bad guy is all well and good, but at some point the two have to meet. When the time comes, every nemesis needs a wisecrack-laden, chill-inducing speech prepared. Bonus points for quotability.
Who did it best? Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger): You'd think building a crotch-severing laser would be enough to make Gert Fröbe's Goldfinger memorable. However, it was his unforgettable exchange with Bond in this 1964 classic that cemented him as one of the greatest.
Do you expect me to talk?
No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die.