The Many Looks Of The Bond Villain

After Silva’s look is revealed, how do other Bond baddies compare?


by Owen Williams |
Published on

So you’ve lined up your volcanic lair, your army of henchmen and your gorgeous moll; you’ve crafted your plan for world-domination and remembered to feed the sharks swimming under the glass floor of your office. Now what? Well, no real villain – and certainly no Bond villain – would be caught without a distinctive personal style. After Skyfall villain Silva (Javier Bardem) appeared in action for the first time in this week’s trailer, we assess his predecessors for their distinctive fashion choices…

Film: Dr. No (1962)

Style: As a mad scientist on an island protected by a dragon (actually a flamethrowing tractor) you might expect Dr No to be a ranter and raver. He’s actually eerily calm and buttoned down, despite the absence of any buttons at all on his Nehru-collared tunic: the first of many in the Bond villain pantheon. There’s a whiff of Orientalism about him, and he has black metal pincers instead of hands. No physical match for Bond, you suspect he could crush him intellectually… if not for the whole explaining-the-plan and letting-Bond-escape thing. The template for the next five decades is set right here.

***Plan: ***Disruption of US space shuttle launch with atomic radio beam.

Best Line: "Unfortunately I misjudged you. You are just a stupid policeman whose luck has run out."

Film: From Russia With Love (1963)

***Style: ***A blonde-haired super-assassin who can rock a towel, a black ninja outfit and a sharp grey pinstripe with equal ease, Grant cuts quite a dash. But for all his seeming urbanity, he’s not a gentleman: he doesn’t seem to realise that one cannot possibly combine red wine with fish.

***Plan: ***Theft of a LEKTOR decoding machine; assassination of Bond; humiliation of British government.

Best Line: "Orders? That’s only half of it, old man."

Film: Goldfinger (1964)

Style: Attempting to wear his wealth with some élan, Goldfinger instead comes off as crass and buffoonish, which adds to his slight air of off-kilter madness. He looks like a cartoon golfer in brogues, tweed plus-fours, big socks and a cardigan in the famous match early in the film. Later on, his sizeable frame will sport a fetching gold tuxedo – which is certainly eye-catching, but proves he’s no match for Bond in the stylish evening wear stakes.

***Plan: ***Breaking into Fort Knox and irradiating America’s gold supply with a nuclear bomb.

Best Line: "No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!"

Film: Thunderball (1965)

Style: Largo is another big guy, but unlike Goldfinger he’s physically imposing rather than just portly. And as you’d expect of an Italian, he’s particularly natty dresser too: he favours the odd open neck shirt, dark Milanese suits and white sharkskin dinner jackets (maybe he’s going for a Bogart-in-Casablanca sort of a vibe). He uses a cigarette holder, taps around with a cane, and sports a piratically rakish eyepatch. Now *that *is a look worth becoming a super-villain for.

***Plan: ***Theft of NATO atomic bombs for a $100m ransom.

Best Line: "You know much about guns, Mr Bond?"

Film: You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

Style: In his anonymous, cat-stroking phase in From Russia With Love and Thunderball, Blofeld was played by Anthony Dawson. John Hollis was dropped down the industrial chimney in For Your Eyes Only, and in the unofficial Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again, Blofeld was played by Max Von Sydow as a sort of twinkle-eyed satyr. The big three Blofelds though, are Pleasance, Savalas and Gray. Pleasance played a monkish, bald, facially scarred recluse in a tightly-fitted Mao suit. Cue-ball Savalas played a kind of Brooklyn gangster Blofeld, ditching the scar but returning to the Nehru collar. And Gray played Charles Gray.

***Plan: ***Kidnapping spacecraft to provoke war between the global superpowers; biological warfare through the medium of brainwashed supermodels; building a diamond powered laser satellite.

Best Line: "Give him his cigarettes. It won’t be the nicotine that kills you, Mr Bond."

Film: Live And Let Die (1973)

Style: The Blaxploitation Bond takes the action to the streets of Harlem and New Orleans… until all the voodoo stuff in the Caribbean. Rather than your average global-scale megalomaniac, Mr Big seems an unremarkable drugs kingpin (though a menacing one, thanks to Kotto) until he’s revealed to be the corrupt dictator of the island of San Monique. He doesn’t dress particularly strikingly, but does favour a very bad disguise. His staff probably just pretended to believe he was two people, out of politeness.

***Plan: ***Production of a mega heroin crop, using voodoo as a distraction.

Best Line: "Names is for tombstones, baby!"

Film: The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

Style: Famous assassin Scaramanga is supposed to be a sort of mirror-universe evil version of Bond himself, and given that we’re now in the Roger Moore era, that means we have a Bond villain in a leisure suit. “He usually wears white linen, black tie, and all-gold jewellery,” says Miss Anders. It’s top-notch intel, but thankfully inside the white linen is a chummily sinister (and in this case, triple-nippled) Christopher Lee, so all is right with the world.

***Plan: ***Testing his mettle against Bond; developing and auctioning dangerous solar technology.

Best Line: "You see, Mr Bond, like all great artists I want to create one indisputable masterpiece: the death of 007."

Film: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

***Style: ***Pretty much a Blofeld cipher (he was actually conceived as Blofeld but his identity had to be changed due to rights issues), Stromberg could not be called a man of action, preferring to sit around and press buttons and let the henchmen do the heavy lifting. He favours an ugly, rather snug grey tunic-and-trousers affair for world domination, and a gauzier black number for dinner. Follically splitting the difference between Pleasance, Savalas and Gray, he’s bald on top and silver at the sides.

***Plan: ***Triggering global nuclear holocaust and establishing a new world order under the sea.

Best Line: "Observe, Mr Bond, the instruments of Armageddon."

Film: Moonraker (1979)

Style: Charming and debonair, the well-manicured Drax appreciates the finer things in life: 18th Century French architecture; classical music; afternoon tea and impeccably tailored outfits in black and a rather fetching fawn. He’s also wearily unflappable, and has hands-down the most urbanely witty dialogue of any Bond villain ever. It’s a shame about the banana yellow jumpsuits he wants his minions to wear though. Perhaps he should see that some harm comes to his in-house costume designer.

***Plan: ***Triggering global nuclear holocaust and establishing a new world order in space.

Best Line: "Mr Bond, you appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season."

Film: For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Style: Back down to Earth after the space-bound shenanigans of Moonraker, Bond meets Kristatos. Initially he appears to be just a smuggler, albeit one exceptional enough to have been headhunted by the KGB – but of course it isn’t quite that simple. Neatly trimmed and coiffed in the hair and beard department, he scrubs up in a dinner jacket ensemble, but tends to prefer smart- casual, going for light shirts and chinos on his boat, and ski jackets in chilly Northern Italy.

***Plan: ***The theft and handover of the control system to Britain’s Polaris missiles to the Soviet Union.

Best Line: "Bind that wound. We don’t want any blood in the water… Not yet."

Film: Octopussy (1983)

Style: Bond’s only enemy of royal descent, Khan is an exiled Afghan prince, holed up in a palace in Rajasthan and fond of a high-stakes game of backgammon. Infinitely wealthy, arrogant and aristocratic, he nevertheless seems content to rub shoulders with various levels of ne’er-do-well. He likes to wear dark silk, but will rock a safari suit if the occasion demands.

***Plan: ***Complicated smuggling plot involving the replacement of Russian treasures with nuclear warheads, to fool Europe into disarmament and leave the way clear for Soviet invasion.

Best Line: "Mr Bond is indeed a very rare breed… soon to be extinct."

Film: A View To A Kill (1985)

Style: The role of Zorin was originally earmarked for David Bowie, and there’s more than a touch of the Thin White Duke in Walken’s predictably eccentric villain. An Aryan psychopath with a genius-level intellect, he’s the result of Nazi genetic experiments, the results of which are apparently also helpful in racing horses. He’s comfortable in crisp suits and tasteful ties, riding gear, and formal race-day top hats and cravats, but somehow they all look like disguises on him, as if, V-like, he might unzip his skin at any time and reveal the alien lizard beneath.

***Plan: ***Worldwide microchip monopoly for Zorin Industries, through destruction of Silicon Valley by artificially-engineered earthquake.

Best Line: (Break out your best Walken impression for this one) "Ha ha, you amuse me, Mr Bond."

Film: The Living Daylights (1987)

Style: Unusually, rather than an evil genius and/or sophisticated urbanite, arms dealer Whitaker is a redneck militarist idiot with a Napoleon complex. He calls himself a general, although he has no right to the title, and the medals on his army surplus threads are fake (or at least, not earned by him). He doesn’t even call Bond “Mister”. How appallingly vulgar.

***Plan: ***In cahoots with KGB traitor Koskov, he plans to trade stolen diamonds for opium in a deal with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, and use the profits to supply arms to Russia. Or something.

Best Line: "Too bad, Bond: you could have been a live rich man instead of a poor dead one."

Film: Licence To Kill (1989)

Style: It’s Bond vs. Scarface as 007, on a personal revenge mission with his licence to kill revoked, takes on drug baron Sanchez in Latin America. Sanchez’ appearance is kind of Miami Vice casual, with shirts, slacks, and no socks with his shoes, but he’ll go full-on formal if absolutely necessary and with clients he respects. The easygoing look belies brutal ruthlessness, however, and he’s not above exploding people who displease him.

***Plan: ***Staying out of the reach of the DEA and CIA; organising the biggest international drug deal of all time, using a process that dissolves cocaine in petrol and then reconstitutes it later.

Best Line: "Senor Bond, you got big cojones. You come here, to my place, without references, carrying a piece, throwing around a lot of money. But you should know something: nobody saw you come in, so nobody has to see you go out."

Film: GoldenEye (1995)

Style: Shock! Horror! It’s a rogue 00-agent, so another mirror-universe Bond, although in a different way to Scaramanga. Even when Trevelyan’s gone off-map, he still seems to favour black 00 covert combat-ops gear, but post the opening sequence, he also gains facial scarring that any Bond villain would be proud to sport. This one calls Bond “James” because they’re old pals – although you’d be correct in considering them recently estranged.

***Plan: ***Multiple simultaneous international electronic bank robberies, followed by massive EMP blast from GoldenEye satellite to hide his crime.

Best Line: "What’s the matter, James? No glib remark? No pithy comeback?"

Film: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Style: Here’s a silver-haired media mogul with little wire-framed spectacles and a deep fondness for black Nehru suits. Carver’s nationality is significant: uniquely in the Bond villain pantheon, he’s actually British (even Alec Trevelyan was of Cossack descent). This means he is very much not at all supposed to be either Rupert Murdoch (Australian) or Robert Maxwell (Czech). Oh dear no.

***Plan: ***To engineer WWIII and monopolise the subsequent media coverage. Bonus plan to attack China, as revenge for its not allowing his empire to extend there.

Best Line: "Welcome to my world crisis, Mr Bond!"

Film: The World Is Not Enough (1999)

Style: With apologies for the spoiler inherent in this page, Ms King, though she initially appears to a former kidnap victim in danger again, is indeed the series’ first female Bond villain (the first principal one anyway: obviously there‘s a long history of henchwomen like Xenia Onatopp, May Day, Irma Bunt and Rosa Klebb). More of a clothes horse than yer average Blofeld, costume designer Lindy Hemming says dressing Marceau in “sexy, exotic fabrics”, to reflect her extensive travels, was her favourite Bond job ever. There are silks, velvets and fur-lined ski-suits, but that luxurious hair conceals, of course, a surprise disfigurement…

***Plan: ***The nuclear destruction of Istanbul and the Russian oil pipelines in the Bosphorus, vastly benefitting King’s own oil business.

Best Line: "Who’s afraid now, Mr Bond?"

Film: Die Another Day (2002)

Style: Another spoiler: Moon and Graves are the same guy, thanks to a plot involving some rather radical gene therapy. Moon sports North Korean military chic for his scenes, reflecting the fact that he’s in the North Korean military (his name is a reference to Kingsley Amis’ Colonel Sun, by the way: the first Bond novel not written by Ian Fleming). Thereafter, in Graves form, his get-up is explicitly designed to reflect and parody Bond: a sarcastic adoption of an arrogant, public-school British gentleman persona. With ice palaces and invisible cars as a bonus.

***Plan: ***Another diamond-powered laser satellite with Earth-shattering capabilities, this time for the benefit of North Korea.

Best Line: "You see, Mr Bond? You can’t kill my dreams, but my dreams can kill you."

Film: Casino Royale (2006)

Style: Interestingly down on his luck in the villain stakes, Le Chiffre is actually a henchman for somebody we haven’t met yet. Deeply sinister and dressing sharply but entirely in black, he has a dead eye that constantly weeps tears of blood. No longer at the top of his game, his actions sometimes reek of desperation. But he’s still dangerous, and all he needs to prove it is a wicker chair and some rope.

***Plan: ***Last-ditch attempt to recoup his mysterious client’s funds – diminished through bad decisions – at a high-stakes poker game in Montenegro. Not really the greatest ideas man…

Best Line: "You must have thought I was bluffing, Mr Bond."

Film: Quantum Of Solace (2008)

Style: Like Le Chiffre, Greene is another Quantum employee, but in better circumstances and with more in the way of cunning schemes. Always immaculately turned out – tailored suits, silk shirts, tweed jackets – he nevertheless has a kind of toad-like demeanour, although he lacks an obvious disfigurement. Amalric says he based the performance on “the smile of Tony Blair and the craziness of Nicolas Sarkozy.” Ah, the banality of evil…

***Plan: ***Engineering a coup to gain control of Bolivia’s water supply, for the benefit of his own corrupt “Greene Planet” front.

Best Line: "How much do you know about Bond? He’s rather a tragic case…"

Film: Skyfall (2012)

Style: Since there is apparently no noodling around with Quantum this time, Silva looks to be old-school in his flamboyant Bond villainy. So far in the trailer we’ve seen him in a smart white jacket and some prison pyjamas, but the fact that he’s wearing those pyjamas in a Hannibal Lecter sort of glass cage gives him a definite air of danger. That floppy blonde hair is also giving us a shiver of mad Klaus Kinski. Yeah, we’re quite scared.

***Plan: ***Unclear at this stage, but it looks to be revenge-oriented, and something to do with a beef against M…

Best Line: (From currently available material) "She sent you after me knowing you’re not ready; knowing you would likely die… Mommy was very bad."

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