The appearance of the villain(s)

edited November 2013 in Bond 26 & Beyond Posts: 13,083
I have in the past started a thread about the clothes of the villain. I think it was an incomplete topic, to say the least. This thread is about the general appearance of future villains, how they would have the "benign bizarre" that was so common and so Bondian in many of the early Bond movies: the cat of Blofeld, the metal hands of Dr No, the eyepatch of Largo, the general appearance of Rosa Klebb, etc. What's left, and how to do it convincingly nowadays, without going into self-parody?
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Comments

  • Posts: 2,469
    The last clear-cut instance of this was LeChiffre weeping blood and huffing on an inhaler. I thought that worked out well.

    Then we had Silva's fey personality and ambiguous sexuality. Not deformities, per se, but he certainly cut a rather bizarre figure.

    Yes, it's difficult to do nowadays without descending into self-parody, as you say, but I think it's a trope worth maintaining.

    As for future instantiations of this hallmark, I dunno. Perhaps a villain with bizarrely colored eyes--bright orange, mayhap?
  • Posts: 5,634
    'bizarrely colored eyes' ?

    Maybe David Bowie could step up in the future and get involved ?

    I don't think eye color, or attire, or facial accessories etc are really needed in Bond today to make for a good villain. Ok it may add a bit of intrigue, but look back at past characters such as Franz Sanchez, Hugo Drax, Kamal Khan for example. All normal adversaries with no distinguishing characteristics or fancy attire, just simple plain enough villains that actually worked and did a fine job. I hope the days of 'metal hands, villains cats etc' are a thing of the past and should never see the light of day again as I merely think they're simply not needed in todays Bond day and age
  • Posts: 13,083
    Didn't Sanchez have a scar? And while not deformed, Robert Davi has a rather striking face. Hugo Drax had this old fashioned beard, his face could have been in a portrait from the Renaissance (and I dislike MR). Kamal Khan again, while not deformed, had an interesting face. It doesn't have to be a deformity, an eccentric or somewhat odd appearance, if done well, can work too. This dates back from Fleming, so why not use it, in a believable way of course.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,444
    Ludovico wrote:
    Didn't Sanchez have a scar? And while not deformed, Robert Davi has a rather striking face. Hugo Drax had this old fashioned beard, his face could have been in a portrait from the Renaissance (and I dislike MR). Kamal Khan again, while not deformed, had an interesting face. It doesn't have to be a deformity, an eccentric or somewhat odd appearance, if done well, can work too. This dates back from Fleming, so why not use it, in a believable way of course.

    Though I do think that the "eye bleed" in CR 2006 was an unnecessary throwback to the filmic Blofeld a la YOLT. Maybe I'm alone in this, but Le Chiffre's strengths as a villain were partly his Kristatos-style ordinariness - the banality of evil, so to speak. The character from the novel was of course obese and much more grotesque, so perhaps I should not grumble so.
  • Posts: 13,083
    I think the bleeding eye was a nice addition, and the route to take if you have an actor who is not obese like the novel's character. Mikkelsen has an interesting face, but the bleeding eye added a classic touch to Le Chiffre.

    And it is difficult in real life to find actors looking even remotely like Fleming's villains, so they need these short cuts on the big screen.
  • pachazopachazo Make Your Choice
    Posts: 7,139
    I also think that the eye bleeding was a nice touch and was much more refined than the CGI grotesque of Silva's facial deformities.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    edited November 2013 Posts: 14,444
    I still think they should have followed the 'banality of evil' theme started with Kristatos in FYEO. Having said that, the eye bleed trait was much more subtle than many other villains and physical deformity is a Fleming villain trait too of course.
  • edited July 2013 Posts: 13,083
    Dragonpol wrote:
    I still think they should have followed the 'banality of evil' theme started with Kristatos in FYEO. Having said that,, the eye bleed trait was much more subtle than many other villains and physical deformity is a Fleming villain trait too of course.

    Kristatos was as plain looking villain as one could be, but even then he needed to have a goatee (usually a cliche sign of evil). Locque had that creepy face with weird glasses and there was an East German hemchman who was basically a Grant clone. Even in QOS, where Amalric described Greene as a wallpaper villain, there is Elvis who has a wig and thus a bizarre hairdo. Yes, Elvis was a weak henchman, but they still needed that odd element on the villain's side.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,444
    Ludovico wrote:
    Dragonpol wrote:
    I still think they should have followed the 'banality of evil' theme started with Kristatos in FYEO. Having said that,, the eye bleed trait was much more subtle than many other villains and physical deformity is a Fleming villain trait too of course.

    Kristatos was as plain looking villain as one could be, but even then he needed to have a goatee (usually a cliche sign of evil). Locque had that creepy face with weird glasses and there was an East German hemchman who was basically a Grant clone. Even in QOS, where Amalric described Greene as a wallpaper villain, there is Elvis who has a wig and thus a bizarre hairdo. Yes, Elvis was a weak henchman, but they still needed that odd element on the villain's side.

    True, banality has its limits. They seem to have returned to the old Bond villain mode with Skyfall and Raoul Silva.
  • Posts: 2,469
    Dragonpol wrote:
    Ludovico wrote:
    Didn't Sanchez have a scar? And while not deformed, Robert Davi has a rather striking face. Hugo Drax had this old fashioned beard, his face could have been in a portrait from the Renaissance (and I dislike MR). Kamal Khan again, while not deformed, had an interesting face. It doesn't have to be a deformity, an eccentric or somewhat odd appearance, if done well, can work too. This dates back from Fleming, so why not use it, in a believable way of course.

    Though I do think that the "eye bleed" in CR 2006 was an unnecessary throwback to the filmic Blofeld a la YOLT. Maybe I'm alone in this, but Le Chiffre's strengths as a villain were partly his Kristatos-style ordinariness - the banality of evil, so to speak. The character from the novel was of course obese and much more grotesque, so perhaps I should not grumble so.

    I can't agree, I'm afraid. Mads' LeChiffre was a striking figure, and somewhat larger than life. He radiated villainy, if not evil. I think he was far more distinctive than Kristatos, who is exactly what we don't want in a Bond villain. And Julian Glover is a good actor, BTW. He just wasn't right, or wasn't transformed enough, to be a good Bond villain.

  • Posts: 2,469
    Ludovico wrote:
    Dragonpol wrote:
    I still think they should have followed the 'banality of evil' theme started with Kristatos in FYEO. Having said that,, the eye bleed trait was much more subtle than many other villains and physical deformity is a Fleming villain trait too of course.

    Kristatos was as plain looking villain as one could be, but even then he needed to have a goatee (usually a cliche sign of evil). Locque had that creepy face with weird glasses and there was an East German hemchman who was basically a Grant clone. Even in QOS, where Amalric described Greene as a wallpaper villain, there is Elvis who has a wig and thus a bizarre hairdo. Yes, Elvis was a weak henchman, but they still needed that odd element on the villain's side.

    I actually thought Greene was a distinctive villain. The bulging, slightly crazed eyes were the defining touch.

  • Posts: 13,083
    Ludovico wrote:
    Dragonpol wrote:
    I still think they should have followed the 'banality of evil' theme started with Kristatos in FYEO. Having said that,, the eye bleed trait was much more subtle than many other villains and physical deformity is a Fleming villain trait too of course.

    Kristatos was as plain looking villain as one could be, but even then he needed to have a goatee (usually a cliche sign of evil). Locque had that creepy face with weird glasses and there was an East German hemchman who was basically a Grant clone. Even in QOS, where Amalric described Greene as a wallpaper villain, there is Elvis who has a wig and thus a bizarre hairdo. Yes, Elvis was a weak henchman, but they still needed that odd element on the villain's side.

    I actually thought Greene was a distinctive villain. The bulging, slightly crazed eyes were the defining touch.

    Yes, Amalric has a very distinctive face and sneaky eyes. I do think he looks villainous au naturel, but that is subjective.

    So, what's for the next villain? They cannot go with the fake teeth, this has been done just one movie ago. Scars have been done to death too, although they could tweak it a little bit. My idea: say the villain had minor plastic surgery, either to repair his face after some accident, or merely to change his appearance, he could have one part of his face with the skin different than the rest, have one of his eyelids close badly and one eyebrow different in shape and color to the other one. Something of the sort.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,444
    Dragonpol wrote:
    Ludovico wrote:
    Didn't Sanchez have a scar? And while not deformed, Robert Davi has a rather striking face. Hugo Drax had this old fashioned beard, his face could have been in a portrait from the Renaissance (and I dislike MR). Kamal Khan again, while not deformed, had an interesting face. It doesn't have to be a deformity, an eccentric or somewhat odd appearance, if done well, can work too. This dates back from Fleming, so why not use it, in a believable way of course.

    Though I do think that the "eye bleed" in CR 2006 was an unnecessary throwback to the filmic Blofeld a la YOLT. Maybe I'm alone in this, but Le Chiffre's strengths as a villain were partly his Kristatos-style ordinariness - the banality of evil, so to speak. The character from the novel was of course obese and much more grotesque, so perhaps I should not grumble so.

    I can't agree, I'm afraid. Mads' LeChiffre was a striking figure, and somewhat larger than life. He radiated villainy, if not evil. I think he was far more distinctive than Kristatos, who is exactly what we don't want in a Bond villain. And Julian Glover is a good actor, BTW. He just wasn't right, or wasn't transformed enough, to be a good Bond villain.

    I think they wanted someone to bring the series back down to Earth after the excesses of TSWLM and MR and Julian Glover as Aris Kristatos certainly fitted the bill in that regard. As I said, the banality of evil was often explored in the short stories. I suppose that the Le Chiffre "eye bleed" was at least subtle and put one in mind of a bleeding holy statue, suggesting something rather sinister. It is all rather subjective though and comes down to personal preference for how one likes ones Bond villains to appear. Le Chiffre's "eye bleed" is just the latest tangent on Emilio Largo's eye-patch or the first seen Blofeld;'s duelling scar over his eye. I thought the Bond films had left these tropes behind, yet with both Le Chiffre and Silva it seems not. Dominic Greene was therefore a breath of fresh air, as was Quantum of Solace in general.
  • saunderssaunders Living in a world of avarice and deceit
    Posts: 987
    Personally when I think of Joseph Wiseman's Dr No, I don't really focus on his metal hands but rather his performance, yes it's a nice nod to Fleming to include a deformity or grotesque appearance, but it's hardly an essential. I would liken it to watching a new Bond actor, you focus on the dialogue and performance before you worry if he's wearing the right suit, the "benign bizarre" aspect is really just exaggerated costume/set dressing that should be used occasionally for adding visual layered depths to thoughtful, well written and performed characterization, not instead of.

  • Posts: 13,083
    saunders wrote:
    Personally when I think of Joseph Wiseman's Dr No, I don't really focus on his metal hands but rather his performance, yes it's a nice nod to Fleming to include a deformity or grotesque appearance, but it's hardly an essential. I would liken it to watching a new Bond actor, you focus on the dialogue and performance before you worry if he's wearing the right suit, the "benign bizarre" aspect is really just exaggerated costume/set dressing that should be used occasionally for adding visual layered depths to thoughtful, well written and performed characterization, not instead of.

    Of course one needs first and foremost to be well cast before one starts worrying about what he wears or what's his haircut is like and so on. But appearance does matter. Peter Cushing when he played Van Helsing used to have doctor's instruments in his pocket, because he wanted to be in the mind of the character completely. If your name is Blofeld and you are the leader of a terrorist ring, with a certain past and certain motivations it is going to show in your voice, your mannerism, but also what you wear and your physical appearance.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,444
    Ludovico wrote:
    saunders wrote:
    Personally when I think of Joseph Wiseman's Dr No, I don't really focus on his metal hands but rather his performance, yes it's a nice nod to Fleming to include a deformity or grotesque appearance, but it's hardly an essential. I would liken it to watching a new Bond actor, you focus on the dialogue and performance before you worry if he's wearing the right suit, the "benign bizarre" aspect is really just exaggerated costume/set dressing that should be used occasionally for adding visual layered depths to thoughtful, well written and performed characterization, not instead of.

    Of course one needs first and foremost to be well cast before one starts worrying about what he wears or what's his haircut is like and so on. But appearance does matter. Peter Cushing when he played Van Helsing used to have doctor's instruments in his pocket, because he wanted to be in the mind of the character completely. If your name is Blofeld and you are the leader of a terrorist ring, with a certain past and certain motivations it is going to show in your voice, your mannerism, but also what you wear and your physical appearance.

    Well, Jan Werich in YOLT rather proved that to be true, didn't he? He looked more like Father Christmas than Blofeld!
  • AgentCalibosAgentCalibos Banned
    Posts: 46
    The only past villians that could actually fit in with the style of the Craig films (Providing they decide to bring any of them back) :

    Goldfinger - His plan to destroy Fort Knox could work in a modern setting epecially with the economic problems most countries are dealing with today.
    Blofeld - Need i say more?
    Scaramanga - Technically he's a sniper if your think about it, perhaps they could have him be a villian where he is targeting world leaders.
    Dr.Kananga - Drug trafficking is still a big part of crime today.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,444
    The only past villians that could actually fit in with the style of the Craig films (Providing they decide to bring any of them back) :

    Goldfinger - His plan to destroy Fort Knox could work in a modern setting epecially with the economic problems most countries are dealing with today.
    Blofeld - Need i say more?
    Scaramanga - Technically he's a sniper if your think about it, perhaps they could have him be a villian where he is targeting world leaders.
    Dr.Kananga - Drug trafficking is still a big part of crime today.

    Though of course Dr. Kananga was a creation of the films by scriptwriter Tom Mankiewicz, not Ian Fleming.
  • Posts: 13,083
    The only past villians that could actually fit in with the style of the Craig films (Providing they decide to bring any of them back) :

    Goldfinger - His plan to destroy Fort Knox could work in a modern setting epecially with the economic problems most countries are dealing with today.
    Blofeld - Need i say more?
    Scaramanga - Technically he's a sniper if your think about it, perhaps they could have him be a villian where he is targeting world leaders.
    Dr.Kananga - Drug trafficking is still a big part of crime today.

    This is very off topic.
  • Posts: 2,469
    Ludovico wrote:
    saunders wrote:
    Personally when I think of Joseph Wiseman's Dr No, I don't really focus on his metal hands but rather his performance, yes it's a nice nod to Fleming to include a deformity or grotesque appearance, but it's hardly an essential. I would liken it to watching a new Bond actor, you focus on the dialogue and performance before you worry if he's wearing the right suit, the "benign bizarre" aspect is really just exaggerated costume/set dressing that should be used occasionally for adding visual layered depths to thoughtful, well written and performed characterization, not instead of.

    Of course one needs first and foremost to be well cast before one starts worrying about what he wears or what's his haircut is like and so on. But appearance does matter. Peter Cushing when he played Van Helsing used to have doctor's instruments in his pocket, because he wanted to be in the mind of the character completely. If your name is Blofeld and you are the leader of a terrorist ring, with a certain past and certain motivations it is going to show in your voice, your mannerism, but also what you wear and your physical appearance.

    Agreed. I think one of the most foolish pieces of conventional "wisdom" is that "you can't judge a book by its cover." On the contrary, one's appearance says a great deal about an individual.

  • Posts: 13,083
    Ludovico wrote:
    saunders wrote:
    Personally when I think of Joseph Wiseman's Dr No, I don't really focus on his metal hands but rather his performance, yes it's a nice nod to Fleming to include a deformity or grotesque appearance, but it's hardly an essential. I would liken it to watching a new Bond actor, you focus on the dialogue and performance before you worry if he's wearing the right suit, the "benign bizarre" aspect is really just exaggerated costume/set dressing that should be used occasionally for adding visual layered depths to thoughtful, well written and performed characterization, not instead of.

    Of course one needs first and foremost to be well cast before one starts worrying about what he wears or what's his haircut is like and so on. But appearance does matter. Peter Cushing when he played Van Helsing used to have doctor's instruments in his pocket, because he wanted to be in the mind of the character completely. If your name is Blofeld and you are the leader of a terrorist ring, with a certain past and certain motivations it is going to show in your voice, your mannerism, but also what you wear and your physical appearance.

    Agreed. I think one of the most foolish pieces of conventional "wisdom" is that "you can't judge a book by its cover." On the contrary, one's appearance says a great deal about an individual.

    Indeed. Falstaff wouldn't be himself if he was not obese, Richard III if he was a handsome man and Othello would not be jealous of Cassio if he was an Italian born white man and Cassio average looking. If it was good enough for Shakespeare, it should be good enough for Bond.

    So I come with some suggestions, as I started this thread. Something simple could work too: a brutish looking man wearing something overtly elegant, for instance, with rich, luscious but aggressive colours, like say a black and bloody red suit (and there would be something vaguely Soviet about those colours). Or go the opposite way and have the villain wearing something very sober.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,444
    Ludovico wrote:
    Ludovico wrote:
    saunders wrote:
    Personally when I think of Joseph Wiseman's Dr No, I don't really focus on his metal hands but rather his performance, yes it's a nice nod to Fleming to include a deformity or grotesque appearance, but it's hardly an essential. I would liken it to watching a new Bond actor, you focus on the dialogue and performance before you worry if he's wearing the right suit, the "benign bizarre" aspect is really just exaggerated costume/set dressing that should be used occasionally for adding visual layered depths to thoughtful, well written and performed characterization, not instead of.

    Of course one needs first and foremost to be well cast before one starts worrying about what he wears or what's his haircut is like and so on. But appearance does matter. Peter Cushing when he played Van Helsing used to have doctor's instruments in his pocket, because he wanted to be in the mind of the character completely. If your name is Blofeld and you are the leader of a terrorist ring, with a certain past and certain motivations it is going to show in your voice, your mannerism, but also what you wear and your physical appearance.

    Agreed. I think one of the most foolish pieces of conventional "wisdom" is that "you can't judge a book by its cover." On the contrary, one's appearance says a great deal about an individual.

    Indeed. Falstaff wouldn't be himself if he was not obese, Richard III if he was a handsome man and Othello would not be jealous of Cassio if he was an Italian born white man and Cassio average looking. If it was good enough for Shakespeare, it should be good enough for Bond.

    So I come with some suggestions, as I started this thread. Something simple could work too: a brutish looking man wearing something overtly elegant, for instance, with rich, luscious but aggressive colours, like say a black and bloody red suit (and there would be something vaguely Soviet about those colours). Or go the opposite way and have the villain wearing something very sober.

    Interestingly, my namesake David Dragonpol in John Gardner's Never Send Flowers (1993) first appears to James Bond and Flicka von Grusse in his Schloss Srache home dressed and made-up as Richard III. A very impressive introduiction to a Jamnes Bond villain that's rarely idf ever been bettered in the novels.
  • Posts: 13,083
    Well, I wouldn't go as far as being dressed as Richard III (although Blofeld did dress up as a Samurai in YOLT, it was at the peak of his madness), I was thinking more like somebody whose clothes don't seem to mix with his overall appearance. In Carlito's Way, Carlito recognises a mobster disguised as a cop because his overall appearance doesn't fit the uniform, the guy looks like a thug, not a cop. I am thinking of something like this. A large bulky man wearing a very expensive suit, moving in it like a bull about to unleash.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,444
    Ludovico wrote:
    Well, I wouldn't go as far as being dressed as Richard III (although Blofeld did dress up as a Samurai in YOLT, it was at the peak of his madness), I was thinking more like somebody whose clothes don't seem to mix with his overall appearance. In Carlito's Way, Carlito recognises a mobster disguised as a cop because his overall appearance doesn't fit the uniform, the guy looks like a thug, not a cop. I am thinking of something like this. A large bulky man wearing a very expensive suit, moving in it like a bull about to unleash.

    Yes, there is a very interest and unacknowledged relation between YOLT Blofeld and NSF Dragonpol - in that they are both as mad as hatters and both enjoy their grim work. I'm writing a lengthy monograph on the similarities between the two novels and a bit more called 'John Gardner's Euro Disneyland of Death' which will appear on The Bondologist Blog as and when. Fascinating subject area, for me at least.
  • Posts: 2,469
    Ludovico wrote:
    Well, I wouldn't go as far as being dressed as Richard III (although Blofeld did dress up as a Samurai in YOLT, it was at the peak of his madness), I was thinking more like somebody whose clothes don't seem to mix with his overall appearance. In Carlito's Way, Carlito recognises a mobster disguised as a cop because his overall appearance doesn't fit the uniform, the guy looks like a thug, not a cop. I am thinking of something like this. A large bulky man wearing a very expensive suit, moving in it like a bull about to unleash.

    There is something similar in the Thunderball novel. Largo's hoodlums arrive in the Bahamas and attempt to act the part of civilized gentlemen at the grand casino in Nassau. Leiter is on the case and bowls them out for exactly what they are because their very nature as criminal lowlifes is so inharmonious with the posh surroundings. The incongruity makes the SPECTRE operatives so uncomfortable that an observant guy like Leiter has no problem blowing the gaff.

  • Posts: 13,083
    Ludovico wrote:
    Well, I wouldn't go as far as being dressed as Richard III (although Blofeld did dress up as a Samurai in YOLT, it was at the peak of his madness), I was thinking more like somebody whose clothes don't seem to mix with his overall appearance. In Carlito's Way, Carlito recognises a mobster disguised as a cop because his overall appearance doesn't fit the uniform, the guy looks like a thug, not a cop. I am thinking of something like this. A large bulky man wearing a very expensive suit, moving in it like a bull about to unleash.

    There is something similar in the Thunderball novel. Largo's hoodlums arrive in the Bahamas and attempt to act the part of civilized gentlemen at the grand casino in Nassau. Leiter is on the case and bowls them out for exactly what they are because their very nature as criminal lowlifes is so inharmonious with the posh surroundings. The incongruity makes the SPECTRE operatives so uncomfortable that an observant guy like Leiter has no problem blowing the gaff.

    They used it a bit in the movie too. They all look like thugs wearing black. And in the novels, let's not forget Sir Hugo Drax, barely able to conceal his beastly nature. They would need the right looking actor, someone tall and heavy then find the most incongruous expensive clothes to go on him. It is a risky take, but it can be played.
  • Posts: 2,469
    Not only tall and heavy, but also with a villainous, harsh look to his mien.
  • Posts: 13,083
    Not only tall and heavy, but also with a villainous, harsh look to his mien.

    Oh, absolutely! This is the most challenging aspect of every Bond villain, I think. It is not enough to look ugly or at least odd, the villain needs to look malevolent.
  • DragonpolDragonpol Writer @ http://thebondologistblog.blogspot.com
    Posts: 14,444
    Ludovico wrote:
    Well, I wouldn't go as far as being dressed as Richard III (although Blofeld did dress up as a Samurai in YOLT, it was at the peak of his madness), I was thinking more like somebody whose clothes don't seem to mix with his overall appearance. In Carlito's Way, Carlito recognises a mobster disguised as a cop because his overall appearance doesn't fit the uniform, the guy looks like a thug, not a cop. I am thinking of something like this. A large bulky man wearing a very expensive suit, moving in it like a bull about to unleash.

    There is something similar in the Thunderball novel. Largo's hoodlums arrive in the Bahamas and attempt to act the part of civilized gentlemen at the grand casino in Nassau. Leiter is on the case and bowls them out for exactly what they are because their very nature as criminal lowlifes is so inharmonious with the posh surroundings. The incongruity makes the SPECTRE operatives so uncomfortable that an observant guy like Leiter has no problem blowing the gaff.

    Thank you for noting this, @Perilagu_Khan.
  • Posts: 2,469
    My pleasure.
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