A good James Bond film is only as good as its villain. It also goes to say that a bad villain makes for a poor Bond movie. The Bond franchise is just as much about each film's villain as it is about who's playing the MI6 secret agent. Over the course of 24 movies (26 if you count Never Say Never Again and the first Casino Royale film), Bond has come up against some pretty formidable foes, and some pretty dire ones too.
From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, each Bond actor has had his fair share of brilliant and terrible adversaries, and this will carry on until someone decides to call it quits on the long-running spy movie franchise. However, after 57 years it doesn't look like they're going to stop any time soon. Craig and director Cary Joji Fukunaga are currently working on Bond 25, which is set to come out in 2020, and it's sure to have a villain in it. Whether that bad guy will be good or not remains to be seen. But until then, here are the five best and five worst Bond villains of all time.
11 Best: Jaws
Jaws, who was played by Richard Kiel in both The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, is easily one of the most memorable Bond villains, and it's not just because of those steel teeth. He appeared in two movies, which is unusual for a Bond villain, yet that's not the only thing which sets this character apart from the other villains in the list. He actually becomes a bit of a sweetheart and gets a girlfriend in Moonraker. He's one of the very few villains that audiences care for towards the end of his time in the Bond franchise. His last scene in Moonraker sees him and his girlfriend, Dolly, get into an escape pod after Drax's space station starts to disintegrate. He then pops open a bottle of champagne and says his very first line: "Well, here's to us."
10 Worst: Gustav Graves
Gustav Graves (played by Toby Stephens) was Bond's adversary in the Peirce Brosnan-led Bond film, Die Another Day, and this villain was terrible. There's no other way to put it. Not only was the supposed British business tycoon's plan nonsensical, but there was also that terrible twist that he was, in fact, a Korean colonel (Rick Yune) who altered his DNA so that he could reinvent himself as a rich British guy. It was truly dreadful and led to Die Another Day easily being one of the worst Bond films ever made. This was a shame since it was also Brosnan's last time as 007. He surely deserved more than this film, but there's no changing it now. There's also the fact that he was posing as a British businessman and decided to call himself Gustav. There aren't too many British people called Gustav. The film and its villain are just awful.
9 Best: Oddjob
If you ask someone with even a shred of Bond knowledge to name one villain from the franchise, Oddjob's name will be one of the ones which will undoubtedly come up. Oddjob was the quintessential henchman. He was a formidable foe for Connery's Bond, and he easily had the coolest weapon ever seen in the franchise. His decapitating hat was something unlike anything viewers had ever seen before, and it remains to this day one of the most inventive weapons in Hollywood. He was played by the Japanese-American actor and professional wrestler Harold Sakata, and you could just tell by looking at him that Bond would struggle to defeat this guy. He certainly wasn't the smartest villain in the Bond canon, yet he was undoubtedly one of the most intimidating.
8 Worst: Dominic Greene
There's nothing worse than being forgettable when you're the villain of a Bond film, and that's precisely what Mathieu Amalric's Dominic Greene was. It's virtually impossible for any Bond fan to recollect precisely what his plan in Quantum Of Solace was or why he was worth Bond's time. He had some sort of connection to the previous Bond film, Casino Royale - which featured an excellent villain in Mads Mikklesohn's Le Chiffre in Casino Royale who just missed out on this list - however, that's about it really.
There's nothing else of note to say about Greene. He was a poor villain and a rather tedious one. Incidentally, Quantum of Solace ended up being one of the most disappointing Bond films, especially after Casino Royale, which was superb and helped to bring 007 back into the 21st Century.
7 Best: Red Grant
Robert Shaw's Red Grant is basically Bond if he had been working for the Soviets. He's suave, sophisticated, handsome, intelligent and a top-notch assassin. This is what made him so appealing and so interesting. From Russia With Love was basically Connery's Bond going up against a clone of himself, and it led to some of the best scenes ever featured in a Bond movie. The scenes in question take place on the train towards the end of the film, and it's the moment when Bond has to use every ounce of skill, strength, and intelligence he has. He's never faced a foe quite like Red Grant since. The only one that comes to mind is Javier Bardem's Raoul Silva who didn't make it on this list, yet deserves an honorable mention.
6 Worst: Elliot Carver
Yet another totally forgettable villain. Tomorrow Never Dies' Elliot Carver was truly a product of his time. He was played by a fantastic actor, yet Jonathan Pryce's villain failed to show any real menace in the film. He was a media mogul hellbent on ruling the news world, and it was obvious they loosely based him on Rupert Murdoch. There was also his rather embarrassing Kung-fu display towards the end of the film which is better left forgotten.
5 Best: Alec Trevelyan
If you see Sean Bean in a movie, odds are he's going to die. So, it was no real surprise when his GoldenEye character, Alec Trevelyan, a.k.a. 006, was killed at the very beginning of the film during a mission with Brosnan's Bond. However, what first-time viewers might not have expected was to see Trevelyan return, with a few new scars, and it turned out that he was the villain of the piece. This was Brosnan's first outing as Bond, and pitting him up against as good an actor as Bean was a masterstroke. Not only that, but Trevelyan was the perfect antagonist for this new Bond. He was a lot like Bond in every way, just evil, and that's what made him so compelling.
4 Worst: Hugo Drax
Pompous, annoying and arrogant. Moonraker's Hugo Drax has to go down as one of the most useless villains in Bond movie history. The man is just waffle. Everything that comes out of his mouth is utter drivel, and it makes for an insufferable film. Moonraker is terrible, but its villain makes it a whole lot worse.
He's also overshadowed by Jaws in the movie, who's far more interesting. There's nothing worse than a pompous and arrogant Bond villain who has absolutely no reason to be. It's a shame because French actor, Michael Lonsdale deserved so much better. He's a genuinely terrific actor, and it seems as though he's put Hugo Drax well behind him, where he should be.
3 Best: Ernst Stavro Blofeld
There have been so many iterations of Blofeld throughout Bond history. Christoph Waltz most recently played him in Spectre, yet it's not his version of the character who deserves to be on this list. The minute you hear Blofeld's name, you think of the scared face of Donald Pleasence. It was his version of the character which cemented the villain's place in the annals of cinema history. His stroking of that white cat, his penchant for Mao suits, his bald head. It's Pleasence's version of the character we remember, and the others fall well behind him. He played him in You Only Live Twice, and the character's appeared in seven Bond films in total. They certainly like their Blofeld. He is to Bond what Moriarty is to Sherlock Holmes. A constant thorn in his side who seems to be always pulling the strings behind the scenes.
2 Worst: Brad Whittaker
Joe Don Baker played Brad Whittaker in The Living Daylights, and there's never been a character as miscast as this one. Whittaker, a military enthusiast who moonlights as an arms dealer, was just such a nothing villain and posed absolutely no threat to Timothy Dalton's Bond. The fact that Baker was then recast as Brosnan's Bond's jovial CIA buddy, Jack Wade, was proof of how badly miscast he was as Whittaker. Baker was so much more engaging as Wade, and everyone could see that he was never meant to play a Bond villain.
1 Best: Auric Goldfinger
"You expect me to talk?" Bond asks as he's strapped to a table with a laser coming up menacingly between his open legs in Goldfinger. "No Mr. Bond. I want you to die," replies Auric Goldfinger. That line and that scene will go down in history as one of the best villainous moments in cinema. It firmly cemented Auric Goldfinger's place in the top stop not only as the best Bond villain of all time, but also one of the best movie villains of all time.
Obsessed with gold, Goldfinger killed Pussy Galore by covering her in melted gold, which is yet another display of the man's fiendishness. No other Bond villain has come close to Goldfinger's levels of evil, and it doesn't look like anyone will ever quite match him in that regard. He was also one of the Bond villains who was legitimately smarter than Bond. He was ahead of him almost the whole time, which isn't something the secret agent is used to.
Who are your favourite and least favourite Bond villains? Let us know in the comments below.