Wednesday, November 14, 2012

We Rank 'Em: Best/Worst James Bond Villain Schemes

I think most fans of the franchise will agree that for the scheme of a James Bond villain to be truly excellent, it must also be totally insane. Pinky, the Brain, Dr. Evil, and Doofenshmirtz all owe their raison d'etre to this particular loop and swirl in the James Bond signature. Some of the less-memorable Bond villains are just your run-of-the-mill megalomaniacal low-lives -- your drug dealers, your assassins, your circus...troupe...somethings? -- but the best of the bunch are dangerous, bizarre men with unreasonable resources and legions of people who inexplicably do their bidding.

Here at Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together, we like things that come in sixes, and if they don't come in sixes, we jam that haxagonal peg into whatever round hole we see fit and call it a day. With that in mind, I give you the six Best/Worst/Most Insane/Totally Awesome schemes for world domination from the James Bond movies.

And yes, you may be pondering what I'm pondering, but nylons chafe me so...

6. From Russia With Love
There's nothing particularly outlandish about the scheming going on in this the second of the James Bond films, because they hadn't really hit their stride and figured out the formula yet. But after James Bond killed Dr. No in the first movie, Dr. No's cronies in evil cabal SPECTRE decide that Bond must be killed and embarrassed. They want to do this by secretly filming Bond shagging a Russian spy, and making plans to release the fabled Bond Sex Tape. The irony, of course, is that Bond has throughout the series shagged more Russian spies than are are -istans in the former Soviet bloc. It would be like someone trying to discredit me by leaking a video of me typing this blog post.

5. Tomorrow Never Dies
In this movie, a thinly veiled Rupert Murdoch (called Eliot Carver) wants to start a war so that his media empire can drum up better ratings. This is actually not so crazy, since The Spanish-American War was brought to us by William Randolph Hearst, who was then himself thinly veiled in a movie.

4. You Only Live Twice
Ernest Stavro Blofeld, you nut. Bond's arch-nemesis throughout the late 1960s, this bald, facially scarred criminal mastermind ran SPECTRE and dreamed up great ideas like capturing U.S. and Soviet satellites and stashing them away in the volcano where he lives and works. Yep, volcano. As it turns out, Dr. Evil only had to be exaggerated ever so slightly to turn Blofeld into a comedy character. After capturing the satellites, Blofeld was going to make sure each side blamed the other for his shenanigans, therefore creating a power vacuum into which SPECTRE could step.

3. Moonraker/On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Both of these movies involve elaborate and nonsensical plans to create super-diseases that the Bond villains (Hugo Drax and Blofeld again, respectively) develop, before leveraging their potentially genocidal capabilities to extort what they want from the British government. What's great about Bond is that in his world, the British government is still a world power. That may be one of the nuttier fixations of the Bond villains as a therapy group.

2. A View to a Kill
Max Zorin sure has a sufficiently dumb plan for world domination, unfortunately he's not so creative. His plan is pretty much the same as Lex Luthor's from Richard Donner's Superman. He wants to set off some bombs in California in order to cause a bunch of earthquakes, thus dominating the burgeoning tech industry in Silicon Valley. In many Bond films, the villains plan on detonating nukes, but in this movie, the nukes are only a means to a larger end, the boot-kick in a giant Pacific Rim game of Mousetrap.

1. Goldfinger
The accepted wisdom is still that Goldfinger remains the most iconic of the James Bond movies, and the villain's plot for world domination is no less iconic. Auric Goldfinger wants to gas all of the guards at Fort Knox and detonate an atomic bomb inside the vaults in order to irradiate the United States' gold supply, making it worthless and rendering his own cache of the sparkly stuff more valuable. What Goldfinger didn't take into account though, apart from James Bond's infallibility, is that if you dangle enough gold in front of people, they don't care if it's poisoned, cursed, wrenched from a dead man's grasp, whatever, they'll take it.