As famous as Agent 007 remains after four decades at the movies, many of his nemeses remain equally well-known. Typically, Bond films don’t work very well if the villains don’t measure up; if they don’t present the audience some electric jolt suggesting that Bond — and the world itself — might truly be in danger. We have long since come to expect that Bond will drive fast cars, romance beautiful women, and defeat monstrous enemies, but we also must believe at least a little during the course of the movie that the outcome is in doubt. The best villains help us suspend that disbelief.
There’s no magic formula for a Bond villain, either. Some are young, physically-agile Bond “opposites” (as in From Russia with Love or Goldeneye) while others are brilliant schemers (like Goldfinger of Blofeld.) Over the years, we’ve also met genetically-engineered freaks like Zorin (Christopher Walken), drug-dealers like Sanchez (Robert Davi), and even rabid devotees to a political cause, like Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya).
I’m going to write-up a separate list for Villain Henchman soon, so this list focuses on the mastermind or general villains, not the soldiers-types.