Dashing cars, death-defying escapes, and dastardly villains are all in a day’s work for the famed British secret agent James Bond. Everything from his suits to his gadgets and even his beautiful love interests are all aspects of what makes Bond such an entertaining pop culture icon. However, no great 007 film is complete without a memorable and sinister antagonist for Bond to go toe to toe with.
These iconic villains have become an important part of the series, and their actions and evil schemes have made some of them downright terrifying. Recently, Redditors on r/movies came together to discuss who the scariest villain is across this decades-spanning spy series. Whether it was their monstrous personalities or horrible crimes, these villains stood out for being the darkest adversaries James Bond has ever faced.
10 Elliot Carver – ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’ (1997)
One user describes the cunning media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) as being “inspired by Rupert Murdock. Someone with that much influence in spreading fake news could very well start WW3 today.” Another user explained that, “Because even if he is megalomaniacal and overly grandiose, the idea of an individual with a digital monopoly on media and information is terrifying.”
What makes Elliot so terrifying is his powers of manipulation and influence over the vast media world. He planned to ignite a war between two countries to gain exclusive broadcasting rights regardless of the many lives that would have been lost in the process.
9 Francisco Scaramanga – ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ (1974)
The first thing that comes to mind about the ruthless assassin and hitman Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) is his fearless attitude and desire to commit murder. “Charismatically villainess,” user SoberNoDrink45 said when describing Scaramanga’s presence throughout the film as his unique and eerie personality made him such an iconic foe.
Christopher Lee was born to play a Bond villain, and his performance is a testament to his ability to play creepy but memorable antagonists. Scaramanga may not have an evil plan of taking over the world, but his casual tolerance for killing and improving his skills as an assassin has made him one of the more ruthless and formidable opponents Bond has ever faced.
8 Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big – ‘Live and Let Die’ (1973)
Yaphet Koto shined as the devious drug kingpin and Caribbean dictator Dr. Kananga, who proved to be a worthy adversary against his rival Bond (Roger Moore). “He was smart, suave, cunning, and ruthless. He also had a plan that would have had him rolling in money. It sure helped that Koto was an excellent actor,” said one user.
With vast amounts of wealth and a cunning mind to stay one step ahead of his opponents, Kananga and his alter ego, Mr. Big, is everything a Bond villain should be. Had his inflated ego not gotten the better of him when facing 007 in their climactic fight, then he could have easily gotten away with his crimes.
7 Alec Trevelyan – ‘GoldenEye’ (1995)
1995 saw an exciting action-packed revival of the 007 series with Pierce Brosnan taking the reins of Bond as he faced a foe who was in every way his equal, the rogue former 006 agent Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean). “Because unlike many others he’s pragmatic & competent,” said user ramriot.
Bean almost became 007 when auditioning for 1987’s The Living Daylights before being passed on the role. Thankfully, he played the perfect anti-Bond in this installment, who remained intelligent, confident, and capable of predicting Bond’s every move. He’s also one of the more determined villains who is single-minded in his plans to destroy England’s economy for revenge against his parents’ deaths.
6 Max Zorin – ‘A View to a Kill’ (1985)
When talking about the remorseless industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), Redditor Emergency-Charity-57 said, “He was so gleeful in killing people, he seemed almost more like the Joker, then a calculating villain like a Blofeld or Goldfinger. He just had no soul or anything redeeming at all, he was just pure psychotic evil.”
Zorin was a sadistic tycoon and murderer willing to destroy millions of innocent lives to capitalize on the tech industry. He wasn’t above sacrificing his employees to protect his interests, making him one of the more unforgivable and cold-blooded antagonists the 007 has ever faced.
5 Jaws – ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (1977) & ‘Moonraker’ (1979)
The menacing hitman Jaws (Richard Kiel) may have only been a henchman, but he still became one of the most recognizable foes James Bond has ever come up against. Appearing in two campy Roger Moore Bond films, he’s graced the screen with his hulking strength and intimidating metal teeth.
“He’s so iconic. Jaws gets my vote,” said Redditor Ozymandas2. With his massive size, superhuman strength, and ruthless nature, Jaws comes across as less like a Bond villain and more like a horror movie monster. How he kills and can withstand constant damage shows that this deadly assassin would never go down without a fight.
4 Le Chiffre – ‘Casino Royale’ (2006)
2006’s Casino Royale was a more grounded and realistic entry in the 007 series that focused more on actual spy work and suspense rather than over-the-top action scenes. It follows a newly instated Bond (Daniel Craig) on a dangerous assignment to stop a prolific terrorist financier, Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), from using the winnings of a high stakes poker game to fund a sinister organization.
“Le Chiffre. Why do you ask?” said one user. Though more of a banker than a criminal mastermind, Le Chiffre still managed to be a brilliant and reserved challenger to Bond, even managing to get the best of him and even come close to killing Bond at one point.
3 Rosa Klebb and Red Grant – ‘From Russia With Love’ (1963)
From Russia With Love is considered one of the best installments in the series thanks to Sean Connery‘s iconic performance as 007 and the film’s exciting spy plot and suspense. It follows Bond on a dangerous mission to retrieve a stolen Soviet encryption device while trying to survive an elaborate assassination plot by the elusive S.P.E.C.T.R.E agents Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) and Red Grant (Robert Shaw).
These two assassins worked effectively together and took their time while chasing Bond on his mission. Like a predator stalking its prey, they knew when to strike and waited until Bond was right where they wanted him. “She is a little buffoonish, but she’s also single-minded, manipulative, driven, and deadly. He’s not goonish or over-the-top like some Bond villains, but his competence, ‘quiet’ bloodlust, and perseverance are truly frightening, said user Baron_von_Stoopid.
2 Franz Sanchez – ‘Licence to Kill’ (1989)
Licence to Kill became one of the more violent entries in the series because of its shocking deaths and its memorable and brutal antagonist. After his friend is maimed and left for dead by the cartel, Bond (Timothy Dalton) goes on a vicious revenge mission to assassinate the drug baron, Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi).
With no hesitation to use sadistic torture methods, Sanchez quickly became a menacing and bloodthirsty foe that almost proved to be too much for Bond. “He seemed the most dangerous,” said user HardSteelRain. “He definitely killed people in the most brutal ways. That decompression chamber scene was nutty,” said AnyNamesLeftAnymore.
1 Raoul Silva – ‘Skyfall’ (2012)
Skyfall saw Bond on a challenging mission to protect M (Judi Dench) and MI6 after the resourceful former MI6 operative Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem) sought revenge against M for leaving him for dead. “He’s like if Bond went off the deep end,” said user tifftab_098. “He shares similar character attributes that are commonly associated with the James Bond character, but in a more sinister way.”
Silva was a monster able to hide his rage underneath a calm, confident facade and was willing to murder innocent lives just to ruin and murder M for causing his misery. He was self-destructing and wanted nothing more than to satisfy his need for revenge. Eventually, using his superior intellect and skills, he proves too much for Bond and succeeds in his mission, becoming one of the few Bond villains to win in the end.
NEXT: Every James Bond Actor, Ranked From Worst to Best
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