James Bond is storming back into theaters with Skyfall, marking 50 years of bringing bad guys in from the cold. Javier Bardem has the esteemed honor of portraying Daniel Craig’s latest villain and is more than up for the task. More on him later, but for now… we wanted to assemble the Movie Fanatic Round Table, containing some of Hollywood’s most astute minds, and come up with the best Bond villain of all time.
We’re a varied bunch, so you shouldn’t be surprised that every journalist chose a different villain!
Be sure to stay with Movie Fanatic for our 007 Days of Bond, starting exactly seven days before Skyfall hits theaters and our 50th anniversary edition of the world’s best cinematic spy is unleashed into the world -- oddly enough on Halloween, October 31.
Ned Ehrbar, Metro World News
While Blofeld seems like the classic choice, I have to go with Christopher Lee's Scaramanga from The Man with the Golden Gun. There's just something about his combination of high-class manners and clear mental instability that makes him that much more terrifying. Plus, Lee knows how best to play bad. I have to say, though, Javier Bardem in Skyfall is vying for a pretty high spot on my list.
Don Kaye, MSN Parallel Universe
The first James Bond villain I ever encountered was Goldfinger, and for a long time he remained my favorite, until something I read in a book called The Jaws Log led me to eventually make a different choice. The Jaws Log was a book written by screenwriter Carl Gottlieb about the making of Jaws, and there is a section in there where he discusses the movie's casting. In talking about Robert Shaw, who played Quint, Gottlieb mentions Shaw playing a villain in the second James Bond movie, From Russia with Love, noting that Shaw's character was the one nemesis who "looked like he could bust up Sean Connery pretty badly."
When I eventually saw From Russia with Love a little while later, I realized Gottlieb was right: Shaw's Red Grant, a SPECTRE assassin who seems to have almost been created Frankenstein-like in a lab with the sole intent of killing Bond, is terrifying. Without being an outsized menace like Richard Kiel's Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me, Grant is physically intimidating and a definite match for Connery's Bond. He is also shrewd, calculating, immensely intelligent and quite capable of turning on a different persona, at one point fooling Bond into thinking he is a British agent. And yet we know next to nothing about him, except that his singular purpose in life seems to be the extermination of 007 (his partner and mentor, Rosa Klebb, is pretty ghastly as well).
The great Shaw plays the role as an implacable force of nature with an almost total lack of humanity -- in some ways he's a colder version of Rutger Hauer's Roy Batty, who actually was an android -- and his climactic fight with Connery aboard a train is one of the classic sequences in the entire Bond canon. While I love Goldfinger, Stromberg, Blofeld, Scaramanga, Le Chiffre and so many of the others, Red Grant is probably the one villain whose blank, unwavering evil is the most unsettling of all.
Gerrad Hall, TheSevenSees.com
I have to go with Dr. Evil. Wait...that's the wrong international spy movie franchise. In that case, I have to choose Goldmember. What's that, I'm still thinking of Austin Powers. Then, of course, I must mean Goldfinger! (insert applause, the crowd goes wild) Admittedly, I've not seen all 23 James Bond movies, but I have a distinct memory of Sean Connery's Goldfinger, maybe because it involved Fort Know, which I grew up near.
But surely the portly villain had something to do with it, a man who would be no match for the more athletic bad guys we've seen of recent. I also recall that I sometimes could barely understand a word he was saying, but it didn't matter because his actions spoke louder than words. He was menacing in every sense of the word.
Joel D. Amos, moviefanatic.com
Mr. Big. Just say the name and it has to be the Bond series’ best villain. You can’t top it. Maybe Goldfinger, and honestly Javier Bardem’s antagonist deserves to be the choice with this question, but Skyfall has not debuted for wide audiences yet, so I cannot bring myself to anoint the No Country for Old Men Oscar winner our victor of Best Bond villain.
But, just as Live and Let Die is the surprise joy of a Bond run that produced more camp than culture-defining films, so too is the bad guy at the heart of Roger Moore’s Bayou adventure.
The Live and Let Die baddie is also a man of his time. The funky factor is off the charts with Mr. Big’s Soul Train ‘do and getup. Toss in the mind-expanding idea of a card reader holding the key to Bond’s success or failure and Mr. Big as puppet master to her prophetic predictions, and it is pure 1970s encapsulated.