007 Chatter: Musings on Bond Villains and Top 7 Picks

It’s the last day of the Bond month, the 50 year anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr. No, which opened in the UK on on October 5, 1962. These 007 posts are also part of the Skyfall countdown which will open on November 9 here in the US! As I don’t cover the horror genre on this blog, I figure it’d be fitting to do a post on those wicked Bond villains on Halloween.

Special thanks to Raul Marin of The Movi3 Lounge for this guest post!
Three of his picks actually match my own top five I posted two years ago 😀

Just as the day turns to night, the month celebrating the 50th anniversary of the James Bond franchise comes to a sudden end. However, this is only the beginning of more to come! There is another film to look forward to in a few days, as Daniel Craig will once again play the iconic role in Skyfall.

As we all anticipate this next film with great excitement, I invite you to think about the villains that we have seen in the franchise over last 50 years. There are six men who have had the pleasure of playing this amazing role. They have dazzled us with their strength, charm, and bravery to save the world against impossible odds. Before we can appreciate the amazing acts of this extraordinary British agent, we have to recognize the worthy adversaries he has encountered before saving the world. Before you can have a hero, you need a villain that can challenge him or her to overcome adversity. After winning many battles, you become a hero with your good deeds and amazing courage. When life is on the line, there has been no one better than James Bond to save humanity from chaos and destruction. The beauty of this franchise has been that someone with the talent and abilities of Bond has been needed to bring down the most dangerous and criminal-minded villains on the planet.

The role of villains in this franchise is something special. To put this in a better perspective, Bond has what it takes to be a devastating villain in any film. He is a strong, determined, and fearless agent that will do what it takes to save the world. The villains on the other hand, use their abilities and resources to establish world order and domination under their control. They also share the same characteristics as Bond. Which brings up a great point: it is not about the strengths and abilities that you have; it is about what you choose to do with them. Since we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of this incredible franchise, it is only fitting to recognize the seven best Bond villains. Of course, there have been many villains throughout these 23 films, but there are seven in particular, who went beyond the expectations of a great villain.

There’s even a book dedicated to the evil masterminds of the Bond franchise

It is not enough to simply have the role of a villain in a film; it is something that should be earned in the eyes of the director and the audience. What makes these seven villains stand out more than the rest are a couple of characteristics; mainly the possession of power. In their respective films, there is no question of the power, influence, and authority that they have over the people that work for them, and the fear they have caused in the world because of that. Another characteristic that they all share is style. This can be interpreted in a lot of ways, but the reality is, they each demonstrate their personalities with great charisma, elegance, and even a sense of humor. Above all, they each demonstrate a relentless, diabolical, and cold-hearted hunger for killing Bond, and destroying whatever gets in the way of their dreams.

Many, if not all, villains in this franchise have had evil henchmen whose jobs are to make killing Bond easier them. They may not be complete villains, but if you still cringe at their presence on screen, they have done their job well. Jaws and Oddjob did the best jobs of that in my humble opinion. Soon, Javier Bardem will add himself to the list of actors that have graced fans everywhere with their on screen presence as a villain in Skyfall. It may be too early to say that he belongs among the best, but there is certainly great excitement and expectation for him to be among the ranks of the most evil men that Bond has had to face.

It is with great pleasure that I list my top seven Bond villains:

Dr. Julius No (Dr. No) – played by Joseph Wiseman

Hugo Drax (Moonraker) – played by Michael Lonsdale

Frank Sanchez (Licence to Kill) – played by Robert Davi

Aris Kristatos (For Your Eyes Only) – played by Julian Glover

Le Chiffre (Casino Royale) – played by Mads Mikkelsen

Emilio Largo (Thunderball) – played by Adolfo Celi

Red Grant (From Russia With Love) – played by Robert Shaw

Special Recognition:

  • Jaws – Moonraker, The Spy Who Loved Me
  • Oddjob – Goldfinger

Now your turn! Who are YOUR picks of top Bond villains?

42 thoughts on “007 Chatter: Musings on Bond Villains and Top 7 Picks

  1. Great piece. However, you might want to correct that last image descriptor. Red Grant (From Russia With Love) was played by the great Robert Shaw (not Lotte Lenya — she was Rosa Klebb in the film).

    1. Oh dear, sorry about that. It’s my fault as I’m the one who added that piece to the post. Yes of course it’s Robert Shaw! He’s one of your fave right Michael?

  2. Ted S.

    Yeah I agree with all of these but I’d substitute Goldfinger for Dr. No. Like I mentioned before, I don’t think Bond films has a truly great villain, so hopefully Silva will change that in Skyfall. Bond needs his Joker/Luthor in the series.

    1. “Bond needs his Joker/Luthor in the series.” Amen Ted! I do hope Bardem lives up to that. I heard that Kevin Spacey was originally offered, now we know he could do awesome villain roles, maybe he might still do it in the future?

  3. Not differentiating between henchman and main villain makes the field of possibilties enormous!!

    I share your love for the villainous aspects of the series, and would say that it’s CRUCIAL that the villain be well done (Tomorrow Never Dies falls apart for me completely just because the villain is ridiculous)!

    That said, there’s a couple here that I would swap out in a split second for Donald Pleasance’s Blofeld. Kristatos, for one. Sanchez, too, honestly. He’s a just a pusher who made it big. LOL.

    Always fun to talk Bond though. And I love me some Largo, Drax and No!!

    Hope you’ll allow me to share this Friday on the blog-a-thon? 🙂

    1. Oh man, I HATE Elliot Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies. He’s ridiculous all right, I mean a media mogul who’s not at all threatening, which is too bad as the concept is pretty good I thought, and quite timely. Hey, no bad mouthing Sanchez, LOVE him, he’s pretty ruthless I think, but he’s also elegant and sophisticated. I do love Drax as well, no matter how silly Moonraker is, ahah.

        1. Thanks Fogs! I think Moore’s Bonds are so watchable no matter how silly they are. I mean that whole chase thing in the elevated Gondola is so much fun to watch. I’ll take silly Roger Moore over Brosnan any day.

    1. Ahah, yeah I guess he does. He’s pretty scary in Valhalla Rising also I think. Funny that his name is Mad, ahah. I do like him though, but he’s become typecast now I think, like Mark Strong with villainy roles.

          1. FUNK

            Speaking of Mads, Flame and Citron is a very goooooood one, he plays a Danish underground resistance fighter during the Nazi occupation, pretty tense movie, came out in 2008. Mads has a hard edge to this along with a soft touch at times. It’s worth a look see.

  4. I hold a special affection with Jaws from my childhood but I like the fact that the memorable Bond villains kinda mirror 007’s persona. They aren’t sadistic mass murderers with mental problems like The Joker or John Doe from Se7en. Well as far as I can remember…

    All in all, I’m glad I can finally get to see Skyfall which opens in my place tomorrow.

    1. Hi Asrap, I like Jaws too, I remember being sooo terrified of him in Spy Who Loved Me when he was stalking that one Egyptian guy around the Sphinx! Well I think some of the villains are pretty sadistic, and I think one would call Drax a mass murderer as he wants to wipe out the entire humanity and only select the good looking ones to create his own universe!! That’s pretty nutty I’d think, no?

      Oh man, sooo jealous you get to see Skyfall tomorrow!

  5. Ruth, thank you for the giving me the wonderful opportunity to guest post on your blog! Love the commentary that’s going on. Just builds my excitement for Skyfall even more! Bardem should be an amazing villain! I wouldn’t be surprised if he is included in this list in the near future!

    1. No, thank YOU Raul! Great post man, I love that you did an analysis of Bond villains instead of just listing your faves. Yeah, can’t wait to see Skyfall, some people already said Bardem did a great job as Silva.

  6. Its always great to see Sanchez on a list but I’m really missing Oddjob if you take the henchmen into account also? And of course Max Sorin, Trevelyan (Goldeneye), Donald Pleasance as Blofeld and of course Auric Goldfinger so I guess I’m mostly disagreeing. 🙂

    1. Ahah, Max Zorin?? That’s on my WORST list, Joel. I like Walken but he’s a terrible Bond villain, ha..ha.. Another mention for Sean Bean, yeah I like him too, and I thought he’s actually cooler than Brosnan.

  7. jackdeth72

    Hi, Ruth and company:

    To be clear and succinct:


    #1:Auric Goldfinger, If you are going to steal. Steal BIG. And Ft. Knox would be where the money (Gold bars) is! Also for the greatest comeback ever to a Bond quip: “No, Mister Bond. I expect you to die!”.

    #2: Alec Trevelyan: Every bit Bond’s equal and wondrously brought to life by Sean Bean.

    #3:Dr. Julius No. The man who started off the Arch Super Villain character. And fulfilled with smug, arrogant style and charm.


    #1: Red Grant. The top enforcer/assassin in Dr. Rosa Klebb’s private army.
    Superb role for a then unknown Robert Shaw.

    #2: Oddjob: Possessing the coolest tool of persuasion and decapitation on earth. And SO typically British. A Bowler hat.

    #3: Xenia Onatopp: A Russian mercenary Black Widow Spider. Who gives new definition to ‘Thunder Thighs’! 😉

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  9. I don’t think you can always differentiate between villains and henchmen. Both are villainous baddies. If the villain is defined as the the mastermind, then in “From Russia with Love” it would be Kronsteen, the chess player.

    I’m going to pick villainous pairs:

    1) Red Grant and Rosa Klebb in “From Russia with Love”. Robert Shaw’s is one of the strongest performances. Lotte Lenya as Rosa Klebb is one of the most memorable. Just revisit that scene when she’s circling Tatiana. There’s more going on than meets the eye.

    2) Sanchez and Dario in “Licence to Kill”. Sanchez may not be as flamboyant a super villain as Drax, but he’s plain nasty. Why did nobody mention Benicio Del Toro? He plays the most psychotic killer in any Bond movie to date.

    3) Goldfinger and Oddjob. Gert Fröbe plays Goldfinger with panache. Amazingly close to the novel’s depiction too. Harold Sakata’s Oddjob is, together with Jaws, the most memorable henchman for most people.

    4) Drax and Jaws. The only henchman to appear in two movies, I believe? And the only henchman to fall in love and turn good! A great twist in an otherwise silly movie is when Jaws realizes that he and his girlfriend would not belong to Drax’s beautiful people. Drax was building very much on Dr. No with his megalomaniac superiority. I think we all know where the idea for that plot came from…it’s just a pity is was all so silly.

  10. 70srichard

    Red Grant is the best villain character and performance. Others may be more iconic and maybe even more fun, but you have to credit an amazing Robert Shaw with giving us a character that Bond really should fear.

    I don’t get the love people here are showing for Drax. He is the dullest, least memorable character with a speaking part in the Bond films.

    Of course Goldfinger is the most complete Bond villain. He is the main target from the beginning of the film. We get to know his need of power, regardless of how petty, in a brutal way. Bond interacts with him through the whole movie. It really is a starring role and not just a featured part.

    Damn this is fun, can’t we just keep doing this until Bond 24?

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  12. FUNK

    Hi, and OT: Just finished watching Skyfall this past weekend (opened early in Seou) and boy oh boy is a goooooooood one, Daniel Craig really delivers in this one, I grew up with the Connery Bonds, and Craig is just about to eclipse Connery as my favorite Bond. Plus Dalton is high on the list to.

    1. Soooo jealous Dave!! I’m in agony as most of the people all over the world have seen Skyfall by now 😦 Glad to see you enjoyed it man. Craig is my second favorite Bond, I still have a soft spot for Dalton no matter what, ha..ha..

  13. Maria

    The best villain is still Goldfinger played by Gerd Fröbe especially in the German version where his intonation fits better than in his english spoken version. His laughter is really creepy.

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