Who hates James Bond?
How James Bond has echoed history
Many people hate the British, but who truly hates James Bond? I'm not talking about a girlfriend who can't stand to watch You Only Live Twice one more time without pulling out her hair. Who I'm talking about are the villains and organizations that have been out to get him over the years. Within the 21 *official* movies, many different people and groups have tried to stop the Secret Agent. What I find interesting is who these people have been, what methods they used, and what kind of a message that was sending to the viewers.
For the sake of this article, I'm going to break up the 21 movies into 5 groups based on when they were released.
Early 1960s Era
The Movies: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball
Dr. No - The first James Bond movie featured a villain who was his own henchman. Dr. Julius No is a member of SPECTRE, who will be overviewed shortly, and features two metal hands with great strength due to an accident involving radiation. He hates the powers of Russia and the West because they both rejected his offer to work for them. In the movie, he runs a mysterious island poisoned with radiation from the nuclear reactor that powers the island where he uses radar to disrupt missiles and rockets from Cape Canaveral. This movie used people's fear and lack of knowledge about radiation as well as the fear created from the Cuban Missile Crisis to put all this fear into a situation where it is defeated by a new hero, James Bond.
From Russia with Love - The villains in this movie are very typical of the time. Rosa Klebb is a former Soviet counter-intelligence officer who hates everything James Bond represents. The other villain, Kronsteen, is a Russian chess grandmaster who devises the plan to steal a piece of equipment from the Soviets, with the unknowing help of the British Secret Service, and sell it back to Russia. These two SPECTRE members are stereotypes of Russian people at the time; the angry woman and the ruthlessly methodical man.
Goldfinger - Ah, my favorite villain name of all time. Auric Goldfinger was one of the nicest villains to James Bond if you ignore the fact that he tried to cut him in half lengthwise with a laser gun. He utilized America's organized crime syndicates and special military tactics involving chemical and nuclear warfare as means to his goal of making the USA's gold reserves worthless by poisoning Fort Knox with nuclear radiation.
Thunderball - Emilio Largo's scheme in the movie seems boring now, but that's because he has been copied so many times since. As an agent of SPECTRE, he steals two nuclear bombs and threatens to detonate them in England and the USA unless they pay a large ransom.
Dr. Julius No, Rosa Klebb, Kronsteen
Auric Goldfinger, and Emilio Largo
What happens in the James Bond movies is the fears of the time are personified by the villains, and 007 defeats our fears. In this era, the fears were from the Cold War: the Cuban Missile Crisis, stolen nuclear weapons, radiation, the "sneaky" Russians, and lingering concerns about organized crime.
Late 1960s Era
The Movies: You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds are Forever
This group of movies has a very close connection. They all have the same main villain, the leader of SPECTRE. SPECTRE stands for SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion. The group's aim is global conquest and the plan to conquer the world by having the East and the West fight enough until they are both weak and can be easily beaten.
You Only Live Twice - Forget the absurdity of Sean Connery passing as a Japanese man. This was the first movie with James Bond's arch-nemesis Ernst Stavros Blofeld as the lead villain. Blofeld is supposed to be a man who is wanted world-wide and changes his appearance continuously. Blofeld and SPECTRE's plan in this film is to hijack spacecraft from Russia and America hoping they will each blame the other one and a full-scale war will break out.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service - Blofeld is at it again, this time with George Lazenby as James Bond. In the movie, SPECTRE is holding the world ransom again using bacteriological warfare this time by threatening to kill the world's agriculture. The movie is not very believable for many reasons including Lazenby, who only portrayed Bond for this one movie, the big chase scene was on bobsled, and the fact that James Bond gets married. At the end of the movie, Blofeld shoots at 007 and his bride. James comes out unharmed, but his brand new bride is killed.
Diamonds are Forever - Lets just say 007 is a little angry about Blofeld killing his wife. Now Blofeld is not only changing his appearance, but is making look-alikes of himself. James kills one of the look-alikes in the opening scene and another one later on when he has the choice between a look-alike and the real Blofeld. In this movie, Blofeld and SPECTRE plan on using diamonds in a satellite to make a laser weapon that will destroy all the nuclear installations that don't belong to the highest bidding country.
(I know this movie was made in 1971, but it fits better in this group and I didn't want to use other names for the groups)
The many faces of Blofeld
All of these movies are centered in the conflicts and the fears in the cold war. New weapons were being invented that could be used for devastating effects. The fact that a war was possibly seconds away was frightening, but the prospect of having the all the power to decide who will win in one person's hand, like Blofeld, was even more scary. Luckily, James Bond was there again to defeat our fears.
The Movies: Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker
Live and Let Die - Finally, more variety in villains. Unfortunately for me, it also meant no more Sean Connery. In this film, Dr. Kananga runs a heroin ring and a chain of Cajun restaurants. He plans on making a lot of heroin and giving it all away in order to create more addicts and to push all his competitors out of the market. He used voodoo practices to scare people away from his poppy fields.
The Man with the Golden Gun - Francisco Scaramanga is a formidable foe to James Bond. He is an assassin who is paid $1 million for each hit. He also has his own island with a solar power plant that could solve the world energy crisis. The island also has a large mirrored lens that uses the sun to make a death ray. He was hired to assassinate James Bond, who makes the hit easy by chasing Scaramanga to his island. It turns out that the solar power plant has a flaw; it is susceptible to being blown up by secret agents.
The Spy Who Loved Me - Karl Stromberg is the first villain of his kind in the James Bond series. His plan involves stealing nuclear bombs to fire on the USA and Russia triggering world war. You've heard that one before? The difference in this movie is that Stromberg does not want to conquer the world, but wants to destroy it and start a new civilization underwater.
Moonraker - This movie was rushed into production because of the popularity of Star Wars. Much like The Spy Who Loved Me, the villain tries to create a utopian society while wiping out the rest of the population on Earth. This time the villain is Sir Hugo Drax, he tries to kill everybody with a biological poison that is only effective on humans, and he uses space as his sanctuary until the poison has worn off and Earth is safe to be repopulated.
Dr. Kananga, Francisco Scaramanga
Karl Stromberg, Sir Hugo Drax
The 1970s brought new fears to people's minds and new villains to portray them. The world was facing drug cartels, an energy crisis, and even more new ways for all people to face doom. James Bond was there again to protect us from what strikes fear in us.
The Movies: For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill
For Your Eyes Only - In the opening scene of this movie, 007 kills Blofeld by picking his wheelchair up with a helicopter and dropping him down an industrial chimney. The villain of the movie, however, is Aristotle Kristatos. This is the first villain who actually worked for the Soviets or the KGB. His plan is to steal a device that can control the British Submarines and give it to the KGB, leaving the West at the mercy of Russia.
Octopussy - This film marks a turning point in the James Bond series. Before Octopussy, the Russians were almost as evil as the terrorists who try to influence them into war with the Western powers. Kamal Khan is the villain who steals a nuclear bomb and plans to detonate it to stop disarmament talk and keep the Cold War going.
A View to a Kill - Is there a better villain actor than Christopher Walken? The villain's name is Max Zorin, and let me say, if your name has an X or Z in it, you are probably a bad guy, which makes this guy double bad. Max Zorin is a ruthless business man who stands to profit from creating an enormous earthquake in Silicon Valley, California. I would like this movie a whole lot more if Roger Moore wasn't 57 when he made the movie (James Bond is supposed to be in his middle 30s), but Walken makes it worthwhile.
The Living Daylights - This is the first of the two Timothy Dalton movies. Brad Whittaker is the main villain. He is a gun runner who is using money paid in advance for guns to buy and resell opium before delivering the guns and keeping the profit from the drug trading. In the beginning of the movie, he starts a plan to frame a Russian officer for killing a couple British agents, trying to get James Bond to kill him as revenge.
Licence to Kill - I call this movie Timothy Dalton Fights Drugs Part II. The movie's villain is Franz Sanchez, who is a drug-lord from Central America. He attacks Felix Leiter, James Bond's friend at the CIA, as revenge for his arrest. His "big plan" doesn't put many people at harm. He found a way to transport cocaine in gasoline and it can't be detected by any drug agency. He also bribes everybody he can to keep in business and buys Stinger missiles.
Aristotle Kristatos, Kamal Khan, Max Zorin
Brad Whittaker, Franz Sanchez
The 1980s brought very big changes to the world, which also brought new threats and fears. With the end of the Cold War drawing close, everybody was holding their breath hoping that somebody wouldn't be desperate to stop the truce. The greed that took over the business world, in the forms of ruthless business men and the widespread use of dangerous drugs also brought new concerns. James Bond adapted and again conquered the threats of the world.
The Movies: GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, Die Another Day, Casino Royale
GoldenEye - Out of the 80s into the era of information and technology. This film's villain, Alec Trevelyan, is the first true terrorist. His plan is solely of revenge on Britain for betraying and killing his parents when he was a small child and then raising him to be a British agent (006). His plan involves using a Russian satellite that can shoot an electromagnetic pulse at any city and shooting it at the Bank of England right after he electronically steals all the money so there will be no trace of the robbery and the British economy will be in ruins.
Tomorrow Never Dies - Elliot Carver is the villain of this film. He buys a stolen GPS encoder and uses a stealth ship to provoke a war between Britain and China by tricking British ships into thinking they are still in international water when they are actually in Chinese territory. The reason he has for doing this is so his news organization can make money selling newspapers and his television network can have the inside scoop on the story.
The World is Not Enough - This villain in this movie is Renard. He was previously shot by 009, but the bullet got stuck in his head and slowly erodes his senses of smell, taste, and feeling (of pain). Also before the plot of the movie, he kidnapped Electra King, the heir to an oil company and holds her for ransom. Her father didn't pay the ransom, and they fell in love. During the movie, he assassinates her father in MI6 headquarters. He then starts a plot to steal weapons-grade plutonium to detonate in Istanbul, which would stop all the oil trade routes through water channels from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, leaving only the pipeline owned by Electra.
Die Another Day - In this movie, Colonel Tan-Sun Moon is a North Korean who was selling weapons for conflict diamonds. When he was found out by Bond, he has to change his identity to Gustav Graves, a British millionaire. As Graves, he plots to build a satellite which can reflect sunlight to provide sunshine for crops to grow year-round, but it really is going to be used to clear the DeMilitarized Zone between North and South Korea so North Korea can take over.
Casino Royale - The James Bond series restarts with this movie. All that has come before no longer applies to this James Bond. Le Chiffre is the villain of the film. He is a banker who aids terrorists and other bad people and gets profits on their money by using the stock market to sell stocks short (betting they will lose value) and then using terrorist attacks on the companies to make money. Bond, with his new Double-0 status, thwarts one of the attacks, causing Le Chiffre to lose most of the money of an African guerrilla leader. Le Chiffre creates a high-stakes game of Texas hold 'em in order to win the money back. Bond is entered with money from the British treasury, hoping to make sure Le Chiffre can't pay back the money.
Alec Trevelyan, Elliot Carver, Renard
Gustav Graves, Le Chiffre
What a group of beauty contest winners, especially considering Gustav Graves needed plastic surgery and gene therapy during the movie to get rid of scars from having an explosion imbed diamonds in his face. These baddies utilized the prospect of war with China, satellite warfare, terrorism, war for oil, and ruthless business including insider trading all as means to benefit and do harm. James Bond came through in a new era with new threats to continue to persevere and defend the common good.
So who hates James Bond? You can see how he has battled against the fears of the time. Those fears have changed, but 007 has defeated them every time with wit, charm, and style. Your girlfriend might still pull her hair out if she sees another Bond movie (I'm glad my wife isn't like that. She even has a bikini much like Honey Rider's in Dr. No - amazing), but we know that the only people who hate James Bond are those who wish to do harm to the world.