The James Bond movies all follow a pretty rigid formula. 007 wraps up a mission in a breathtaking opening action sequence, then enjoys some time off before being presented with another high-stakes mission by M. This will usually revolve around a maniacal criminal overlord who is bent on taking over the world. What’s different each time is exactly how the villain plans to go about taking over the world (or turning the world to chaos or destroying MI6 or whatever other crazy goal they’re striving for).
10 Auric Goldfinger
In the original Goldfinger novel, the titular villain plotted to steal the gold in Fort Knox, but since that plan was wildly impractical (it would take weeks to haul all that gold out there), it was changed for the film adaptation. Instead, in the movie, he plans to infect all the gold in Fort Knox with radiation by setting off a nuclear bomb in there. With all the gold in Fort Knox contaminated, the value of Goldfinger’s supply of gold would go up. It’s a typical “rich guy wants to be richer” scheme. The goal here isn’t particularly evil, but involving the Chinese government and the mafia certainly made this plan a shady one.
9 Dr. Kananga
In its attempts to get in on the blaxploitation craze of the 1970s, Live and Let Die has been criticized for perpetuating a number of African-American stereotypes. For example, the Bond movies’ first black villain, Dr. Kananga, was a drug dealer who plotted to get everybody in America addicted to heroin. The character was played by Yaphet Kotto, who would later call the script a “sea of stereotype crap.” His plan was to distribute two tons of heroin for free through his chain of restaurants in a try-before-you-buy scheme. Restaurant patrons would try the heroin, enjoy the heroin, get hooked on the heroin, and come back to him to buy more heroin.
8 Raoul Silva
Of all the villains’ plans in the Bond franchise, Raoul Silva’s from Skyfall has been most commonly criticized, because it’s overly convoluted and it relies a lot on coincidences. He leaked a list of MI6’s undercover operatives to get James Bond on his tail, then allowed himself to get caught just so he could then escape, Bond would chase him to the courthouse, and he could eventually kill M for an earlier betrayal.
The plan seems to have been hatched by screenwriters who wanted a steady supply of action set pieces than a Bond villain. Still, it began with undercover agents getting exposed and killed and it all ended with the murder of M, which devastated fans, so it’s pretty darn evil.
7 Colonel Tan-Sun Moon
Colonel Tan-Sun Moon’s plan in Die Another Day was to fire a laser called Icarus from space right at the border between the Koreas. This was supposed to push North Korean forces to cross the border into South Korea and escalate the conflict between the two nations. Eventually, the war would go on long enough that they would have to learn to get along. It wasn’t a perfect plan, but it was a diabolical one. When Bond thought he’d killed Moon, he was reincarnated as a British man named Gustav Graves (the Pierce Brosnan movies were pretty absurd) to carry out the rest of his plan.
6 General Medrano
Quantum of Solace is a mostly maligned movie, due to its generic, somewhat rehashed plot and flat action sequences, but its villain does have a pretty evil plan. General Medrano essentially wanted to build a dam around Bolivia’s entire supply of drinking water so that he could hold it for ransom. While it’s not as dramatic as sending nuclear warheads to Russia or wiping out the human race, it is a violation of human rights to monopolize water and take away people’s access to it (even though 780 million people across the world similarly don’t have access to clean drinking water).
5 Elliot Carver
Media mogul Elliot Carver, the villain from Tomorrow Never Dies played by Jonathan Pryce, has a pretty disturbing plan, considering what he stood to gain from it. Bond stumbled onto his plan when he figured out that he was orchestrating worldwide politics in an attempt to start World War III. Why? So that his news outlets could have exclusive coverage of the conflict. Carver was going to let millions – possibly billions – of people die in a global war, just so that he could expand his media empire and become even richer than he already was (it’s not like he needed the money).
4 General Orlov
General Orlov, the villain from Octopussy, intended to win the Cold War for the Soviet Union by exploding a nuclear warhead in a U.S. Army base in West Germany. Orlov believed that this little “accident” would convince Western European forces to completely denuclearize, giving the Soviets a window to invade. He teamed up with an exiled Afghan prince to pull off this plot, but they didn’t get very far with it once Commander James Bond was on the scene. Still, it was a pretty evil plan that would’ve had some disastrous ramifications if it had been successful (which was, admittedly, rather unlikely).
3 Max Zorin
Having been genetically engineered by the Nazis and hired by the KGB, Max Zorin from A View to a Kill was the ideal candidate for Britain’s favorite spy to take on. His plan was to detonate a bomb on the cross-section between California’s biggest fault lines.
This would’ve caused a flood in Silicon Valley, wiping out the biggest tech companies in America, leaving Zorin the only manufacturer of microchips. If people wanted microchips, they’d have to buy them from him. That’s the whole reason he wanted to send a Biblical-level flood to an area with a population of around four million people.
2 Karl Stromberg
From WarGames to Red Dawn, a lot of popular culture in the 1980s revolved around the outbreak of World War III, thanks to tensions with the Soviet Union. The Bond series caught on earlier than that. 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me saw industrialist Karl Stromberg steal a nuclear sub from the UK and a nuclear sub from the Soviet Union to fire nukes at each other. The UK would get mad at the Soviets and the Soviets would get mad at the UK, leading to a nuclear war that would decimate the surface world. Then, Stromberg would provide the survivors with shelter at a price in his newly constructed underwater city.
1 Hugo Drax
The James Bond movies have always adapted to keep up with the film industry’s contemporary landscape (so it probably won’t be long until we have the Bond Cinematic Universe), so when Star Wars became the highest grossing movie of all time, 007 went to space. But he wouldn’t just go to space without a good reason. In Moonraker, Bond discovers that Hugo Drax plans to wipe out all of humankind and replace them with a genetically superior race. It’s fair to say that Drax is the most evil Bond villain of all, since his plan was literally to kill everyone.
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