Is the time right for an American villain?


#1

By now I’m sure we’re all familiar with Neal Purvis’s quote "With people like Trump, the Bond villain has become a reality."
I don’t agree that Trump is some kind of Bond villain. He may end up World War III but it won’t be because of some some clever scheme or manipulation, it will be because he managed to piss of the wrong nation, probably North Korea. But I digress.

Purvis’s comments have got me thinking though and I am starting to feel that with the state of the world being what it is a wealthy and arrogant American businessman might be the logical choice for the next Bond villain.

Casting-wise there are a few names I’m circling:
Peter Dinkalge
Not only a great actor but I think having a dwarf villain brings back a touch of the outlandish while still maintaining a serious tone. My only concern is that between Game of Thrones and roles in X-Men and Avengers:Infinity War he may be a little over-familiar.
Ed Harris
His body of work speaks for itself and he’s managed to avoid blockbusters and franchises in recent years so it would be fun to see him in a big villain role again.
Denis O’Hare
The outlier of the list O’Hare has an interesting mix of roles in the drama and horror genres. He came to my attention with his performance as a vampire king in True Blood where he demonstrated the ability to play a powerful and arrogant villain as well as being able flip from dangerous to hilarious when needed.

So, does anyone else want and American villain for the next, or a future Bond film?


#2

Interesting choices. It got me to thinking, when was the last time we had an America villain? I had to go back to The Living Daylights for a main villain (Brad Whittaker), and Licence To Kill for henchmen (Milton Krest, Joe Butcher, Truman Lodge). Maybe it is about time.


#3

The Living Daylights was the last time the primary villain was American. However if you take into account all tiers of villain then it would have been Gregory Beam, the CIA section chief in Quantum of Solace.


#4

I think Ed Harris has been rumoured for some time, good call. Indeed, an American villain would be a welcome change - provided they give him/her the necessary material. We’ve seen how underwhelming a solid actor can be when there is hardly more than cardboard stuff to utter into the camera. A shame James Gandolfini never got a villain part in the series.


#5

Crazed American with a hidden agenda and hundreds of millions of dollars to see it through?

Nobody’d ever buy it.


#6

It;s been a while since we’ve had a ‘bloated capitalist’ for a villain - someone with arrogant, piggy eyes and a dismissive demeanor.

I say William Shatner.


#7

All actor choices mentioned would be terrific as a villain.

I´m just worried that making the next big bad guy an American entrepreneur would be too on the nose and therefore already diluting the impact of it. Everybody will say: oh, Bond is doing his version of 45. (And nobody wants to give 45 ideas about being more villainous either.)


#8

Nor do I. I’m a fan. I hope Bond 25 steers clear of any social commentary. They’d be foolish to assume everyone only thinks one way about these things.


#9

Quite right. Let’s steer clear of any glaring similarities, shall we?


#10

Right, let’s just stick to a generic fat, balding arrogant rich idiot with delusions of grandeur and entitlement, along the lines of Goldfinger, Stromberg or Whittaker. How about ‘Stumpy Whitefinger’?


#11

@AMC_Hornet Sign me up!

In all seriousness, I’m ready for a main villain who is physically able to go toe-to-toe with Bind again… Not necessarily brute force like Hinx, but a knowledge and resourceful fighter would be nice.


#12

Honestly, I think it’ll be almost impossible that it won’t touch on Brexit and Trump in some way. It is what is happening in the world, and Bond always touches on current events, though not in the way you might expect. Whether it’s microchips in AVTAK, environmental issues in QOS, or the fall of the Soviet Union in GE. It might be a minor reference, like the reference to 9/11 in CR, or it might make up a larger part of the plot. But the fact that P&W have made that quote shows it is clearly on their mind.


#13

I think they will likely try to make allusions to the state of the world as we perceive it a matter of interpretation, ambiguous enough so you can choose to take notice or ignore it as you prefer.

Frankly, Bond isn’t the very best vehicle for political commentary beyond a certain degree. When discussing TND few people actually come up with the equation Carver = Murdoch, in spite of how handy that comparison would be. But in the spectacle the more serious undertones tend to get lost and hardly anybody really bothers with such in a Bond film.

Usually such subtext is detected by a small number of critics after the fact; the audience rarely expects more than a passing notion of current affairs. After all they go to the theatre to flee the ghastly realities of their day-to-day lives, not to get it served yet again by proxy of 007.


#14

The time is absolutely ripe for an American Bond villain. Personally, I’d be very much in favor of them updating the Spang brothers and the Spangled Mob for the big screen. It could definitely be done in a way to give Craig a solid sendoff, provided they didn’t botch that organization in the same way that they did SPECTRE.


#15

Not one but two villains, twins! That would be interesting for CraigBond to tackle.


#16

A modernized version of the Spang brothers would be great.

I’d argue that there’s never been a proper American Bond villain. Whitaker may be technically the main villain of TLD, but he’s basically a nonthreatening putz and is overshadowed by Koskov. Krest, Killifer, and Truman-Lodge are merely henchmen. Gregg Beam isn’t a villain at all, he’s just an unsympathetic character. And that’s basically it.

Except for the bizarre “Thatcher on the phone” scene, Bond films have almost never included what Tvtropes calls “historical-domain characters”. There are plenty of references to “the PM” or “the president”, but not by name.

On the other hand, government policies and current events have often been referenced. Consider how the concept of detente was central to the plot of TSWLM.

So I don’t expect Eon to include any overt mention of Donald Trump or Brexit or whatever, but there might be some under-the-radar references.


#17

Right, time to jump back in. I’m not going to respond to post individually but I’ll try to address the topics raised from my initial question.

Re: Bond films being topical
I’m of the opinion that Bond films should take a cue from current events. Indeed, this has been the MO of the series for some time having dealt with events such as the Cold War, drug trade (LALD, LTK), energy crisis (TMWTGG) and Korea (DAD). In fact, I recall an interview with Michael G. Wilson where he said that looking at current events and figuring out Bond’s place in it is the starting point for each Bond script.
Right now this is a little tricky though. With Brexit in the UK and Trump in the US itfeels like what people afraid of right now is their own leaders leading the country to ruin, something that’s difficult for Bond to fight. Rather than providing commentary it could be cathartic to think there’s Machiavellian supervillain behind these things. I’m sure people would prefer to believe there’s villain, who can be fought and stopped by Bond, running the show instead of the string of bad decisions that brought us all here.

Another topical issue I’d like to see explored in a Bond film is drone warfare. I’m thinking a variation on the Moonraker story where the villain would be involved in the design and manufacture of weaponized drones.

Re: actors
I had no idea Ed Harris’s name had been floated around as a Bond villain before. Still, he’s a class act and who wouldn’t want him in their film?

Re: Spang Brothers
As one of the few Fleming villains yet to be brought to the screen it could be interesting to use the Spang brothers. They’re usually considered to be among the less interesting villains from the books so they could take little creative license with them.
If we are going to satirise Trump then perhaps Serrafimo Spang is the Nevada State Senator with one hand in CIA operations and one eye on the presidency. Meanwhile his brother Jack represents the family’s legitimate business interests as well as running a criminal empire under the pseudonym Rufus B Saye. Bond is sent after Saye and begins to uncover the connection to the powerful family.

And as a more general point about villains I’d really like to see Bond game against a cheating villain again. I’m currently reason Zero Minus Ten and Bond’s game of Mahjong has reminded me what a time honoured tradition this is. We’ve had gold with Goldfinger, cads against Drax and dice with Kamal Khan but it seems to have been absent for recent years. CR established Bond as the best card players in the service, let’s see him use those skills again. Plus, it’s always fun to see someone out-cheat a cheater.


#18

Yes and no. The thing is, if your perception of Trump voters tends toward working-class, red-blooded American men, then guess what – that type of person is often a James Bond fan, so going after Trump specifically would alienate a sizable portion of the audience.

Plus I would think they’d have Blofeld return (hopefully to retcon some of that retcon from SP).

Dave


#19

I wasn’t proposing the villain be a full on Trump caricature(odd hair, racist tirades, accusations of ‘fake news’ etc.), as I said before I think calling Trump a Bond villain is giving him too much credit. However to the rest of the world Trump, and by extension the wealthy American businessman, has become the picture for villainy. As such I feel the American businessman seems like the logical choice for a Bond villain.
So far each of Craig’s has had a European male as a villain, we need something to mix things up a little.

And so far nothing I’ve read suggests Blofeld’s return, possibly because they were unsure whether Craig and Waltz would return or maybe because they’re aware that the portrayal in SPECTRE wasn’t particularly well received.


#20

I don’t think EON likes doing anything too controversial politically. Notice how we’ve not had Bond fight anybody Middle Eastern lately even though it has been the center of most geopolitical discussion (and spycraft) for the last 2 decades.

Also, Bond stories tend to look a year or two in the future, and when Bond 25 comes out we’ll be in the middle of the American election for the next administration…