Stephen Arnell

The enduring appeal of the Bond villain

  • From Spectator Life
Sean Connery and Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice (Shutterstock)

Daniel Craig’s fifth and final outing as Bond may not have as many pulses racing due to No Time to Die’s frequently cancelled release dates (the first trailer was back in December 2019), but fans are still keen to see the return of the iconic British spy.

Indeed, recent events have conspired to make 007 more relevant than in previous years, with shiny-pated Amazon boss Jeff Bezos emulating both villains Blofeld (who took over the entertainment assets of billionaire Willard Whyte in Diamonds are Forever) and Hugo Drax (Moonraker) with his recent acquisition of 007 studio MGM and brief space flight.

Until No Time to Die is released, the jury is obviously out on Rami Malek’s (Bohemian Rhapsody) turn as bad guy Lyutsifer Safin (crazy name, crazy guy, as the saying goes), but we know that Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld (Spectre) will be in the picture, ridiculous Freudian backstory and all.

One thing noticeable in the franchise as a whole is the general absence of top-flight female antagonists for Bond. Sure, we’ve had formidable second stringers like knife-booted Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya, From Russia with Love), Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera, Never Say Never Again), Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen, Goldeneye) and Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman, Goldfinger), but only The World is Not Enough (1999) boasts a woman as 007’s principal adversary.

The film cast French actress Sophie Marceau as double-dealing oil magnate Elektra King, aided by her rather useless sidekick Renard (Robert Carlyle), unable to feel pain due to a bullet lodged in his brain, rendering him akin to The Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975).

Perhaps in his next iteration, 007 will face a female (or transgender) mastermind capable of giving the ‘shaken, not stirred’ secret agent a run for his money.

On that note, my selection of Bond’s ten most memorable foes (in no particular order):

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

For me, Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) and cheeky Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize) make an all-time classic double act of Bondian villainy.

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