SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counterintelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) is one of the most iconic criminal organizations in cinema. Across several James Bond movies, the organization managed to test Bond to his limits. In addition to providing some of the most iconic plots in Bond history, SPECTRE is also fronted by, perhaps, the most iconic Bond villain of all time - Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Nevertheless, despite being one of the most well organized and powerful criminal organizations in cinema, SPECTRE has a shocking failure record.
This article will list 5 reasons why SPECTRE is the greatest villainous group ever and 5 reasons why it isn't.
10 Greatest - A Wide Criminal Network With Access To Heads Of State
This feeds into the real life conspiracy theories that have grown in recent years. The idea that there is an underground organization with access to leading politicians is a frightening thought. This allows SPECTRE to subtly and quietly pull the strings behind the scenes, subverting democracy and facilitating dastardly schemes.
While this isn't exactly a new idea in cinema today, the concept of SPECTRE was fairly new for the time and helped inspire countless other stories.
9 Worst - Incompetent Staff
While this may just be a conceit of the genre, it is still unforgivable that SPECTRE's staff are incapable of actually defeating James Bond. Their nameless goons are obviously highly trained and equipped with advanced technology, but they are still unable to actually kill Bond.
Whether it be because they can't shoot straight or because Bond defeats them in hand to hand combat, it is a real flaw in the organization. Perhaps SPECTRE will have to invest in even more training.
8 Greatest - Advanced and Innovative Technology
It is no secret that SPECTRE has access to some technology that can rival even Q-Branch's iconic and high tech arsenal. Aside from the shoe with a blade in it, SPECTRE has had access to a secret volcano base, a nuclear facility, and even spacecraft swallowing rockets.
Despite the fact that this technology hasn't led to much success for SPECTRE, it certainly makes them a great and formidable institution for any protagonist to face.
7 Worst - Almost Triggering Nuclear War
While it is certainly evil to attempt to trigger a nuclear war, it is not exactly a plan one can benefit from. However, this is exactly what SPECTRE plans to do in You Only Live Twice. SPECTRE launches this spacecraft that can swallow both American and Soviet spacecrafts in order to trigger conflict between the USA and USSR. As the two nuclear powers both blame each other for their missing spacecraft, a nuclear war grows closer.
That being said, while the plan is well thought out and dastardly, its ends are ridiculous. A nuclear war will not end well for anyone.
6 Greatest - Volcano Base
Is there a more iconic criminal lair in cinema? In You Only Live Twice, we see that SPECTRE have been hiding out in a Japanese volcano. The volcano is the center of all of SPECTRE's plans for this movie and hides an entire workforce, complete with a monorail system to connect remote parts of the base.
While some may point to Austin Power's parody of this volcano base, one ought to remember that parody is a sign of flattery and this shows just how iconic SPECTRE is.
5 Worst - Ridiculous, Convoluted Plans
While some of SPECTRE's plans are iconic and stand the test of time, others are overblown and border on the cartoonish. One of the more notable examples of their convoluted plans was in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. In the first Bond movie without Sean Connery, Blofeld concocts a plan around a virus that will infect both crops and livestock in order to extort a pardon for his crimes.
This plan, while already complicated, is rendered ridiculous when we learn that Blofeld has already undergone plastic surgery. This begs the question, why didn't he just assume a new identity?
4 Greatest - Their Iconic Status
The fact that SPECTRE has managed to capture the interest of so many Bond fans over changing decades is a testament to its greatness. Despite the fact that a few stories haven't aged well, causing modern audiences to laugh at their ridiculous plots, they are certainly memorable.
Parody is certainly a form of flattery and the fact that SPECTRE has been parodied so much over the years really shows how great and iconic the organization is.
3 Worst - Convoluted Ways to Kill Bond
This entry should go without saying. A criminal organization with the wealth, technology, and power such as SPECTRE should not be getting repeatedly beaten by one alcoholic British agent. Yet, they consistently have their plans ruined by Bond.
It is a bit of a cliché, but whenever the villains capture Bond they recount their plans and then choose a strange method to kill Bond, such as throwing him into a shark tank or some other form of slow death.
2 Greatest - Fantastic Rogues Gallery
It goes without saying that SPECTRE has employed some of the most iconic Bond villains. Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Auric Goldfinger, and Rosa Klebb. Much like how Batman would be nothing without villains like the Joker, the Riddler, and the Penguin, James Bond would not be the iconic secret agent that he is today without Blofeld and Goldfinger.
Consequently, like the Justice League or Legion of Doom depends upon its villains to reach iconic status, so does SPECTRE and it has more than achieved this.
1 Worst - Wasted Millions On Failed Plans
While James Bond consistently managed to defeat SPECTRE across the decades, it is surprising that the force of money had not put an end to them after their first couple of failed plans. They are constantly investing in evildoers, such as Dr. No, to build some kind of evil nuclear device, but these plans always fail.
The fact that they constantly spend so much just to fail raises questions about where SPECTRE's money comes from. It is a surprise that investors even trust them to carry out evil plans.