You've seen it happen dozens of times before: A gifted evil genius spends countless years amassing the means necessary to pull off the greatest criminal act the world has ever witnessed -- only to be thwarted, mere seconds before his moment of triumph, by that meddlesome British Secret Intelligence Service Agent James Bond.
Aspiring supervillains, don't let this heartbreaking scenario happen to you. Before you proceed with your own brilliant scheme, ask yourself: Is my plan truly viable? Might there be a simpler way of accomplishing my objective that doesn't necessitate the involvement of London's MI6?
Whatever your fiendish goals may be, it pays to study your predecessors and learn from their mistakes. After all, you may be sadistic, megalomaniacal, and utterly insane, but you're not stupid.
Villain: North Korean Colonel Moon (aka Gustav Graves)
Goal: Reunite North and South Korea Under the North's Control
Overly Complicated Plan: Presumed dead after an ill-fated encounter with Bond, Moon receives a "DNA transplant" at a Cuban gene therapy clinic and assumes the identity of suave British playboy Gustav Graves. With the help of a vast fortune earned in the illicit diamond trade, he designs, builds, and launches an enormous laser-wielding satellite, which he uses to carve a path through Korea's mine-laden Demilitarized Zone, clearing the way for the North's invading army to conquer the South.
Pragmatic Analysis: Instead of going to all the time and expense of building a sophisticated satellite weapon that will likely be shot down soon after its first use, why not simply go around the DMZ, skipping the whole minefield issue entirely?
Villain: Billionaire Industrialist Hugo Drax
Goal: Global Genocide Followed by World Domination
Overly Complicated Plan: From his giant, invisible space station orbiting high above the earth, nutty aspiring eugenicist Drax (Michael Lonsdale) aims to wipe out the entire human race using a deadly toxin engineered from a rare orchid. Once the planet is deemed safe again for humans, he will return to earth with his carefully chosen collection of "perfect physical specimens" and repopulate the world with his new master race.
Pragmatic Analysis: An ambitious plan, indeed, but one rife with unintended consequences. Drax and his friends could return to find a world inhabited by ravenous I Am Legend zombies or overrun with zoo animals. Instead of wiping out the human race, why not take a page from the Planet of the Apes and simply enslave them? If you're going to build a new society, you'll need lots of cheap labor.
Villain: Oil Magnate Elektra King
Goal: Monetary Gain
Overly Complicated Plan: In an effort to gain a monopoly on petroleum shipments from oil-rich Central Asia, Elektra (Sophie Marceau) conspires with her terrorist lover Renard to hijack a nuclear submarine off the coast of Turkey and trigger a meltdown that will devastate the surrounding area. With competing Russian pipelines effectively destroyed, her soon-to-be completed Istanbul pipeline will emerge as the West's only source of oil.
Pragmatic Analysis: Even if you're able to convince the world that the meltdown was an accident, who's going to build and manage your pipeline in a land rendered uninhabitable by nuclear fallout? Troglodytic mutants are unreliable employees, at best.
Villain: Unnamed Asian Country (Presumably China)
Goal: World Domination
Overly Complicated Plan: Hoping to provoke a war between the U.S. and Russia, an ambitious, suspiciously China-esque nation employs the terrorist organization SPECTRE to orchestrate a series of events that lead Cold War adversaries to the brink of World War III.
Pragmatic Analysis: Do you really want to lose both your biggest oil supplier (Russia) and your most lucrative trade partner (America) all in one fell swoop? Instead, try steadily increasing your clout through a potent combination of shrewd economic planning, brutal suppression of human rights, and occasional diplomatic saber-rattling.
Villain: Terrorist Leader Alex Trevelyan
Goal: Monetary Gain, Revenge
Overly Complicated Plan: Disgruntled former MI6 Agent Trevelyan (Sean Bean) intends to first hack into the Bank of England and steal all of its money, then use the recently pilfered GoldenEye satellite weapon to destroy the bank along with the rest of Great Britain -- thus, erasing evidence of his theft and gaining revenge for the betrayal of his Lienz Cossack parents.
Pragmatic Analysis: What, pray tell, do you intend to do with all those hard-earned British pounds once the world's financial capital has been decimated? Destroying the Bank of England will almost instantly devalue the UK's currency. In the unlikely event you're able to convert the money to another denomination before it's rendered worthless, the enormity of the transaction would certainly raise eyebrows -- and probably get you caught.
Villain: French Industrialist Max Zorin
Goal: Monetary Gain
Overly Complicated Plan: Along with his evil industrialist pals, Zorin (Christopher Walken) seeks to form an international cartel that will control the entire production and distribution of the world's microchips. He plans to eliminate the lone obstacle to his goal, California's technology-rich Silicon Valley, by engineering a massive earthquake that will level the region.
Pragmatic Analysis: Instead of going to the trouble and expense of murdering your competitors, follow the lead of Microsoft founder Bill Gates: If another company's idea is better than yours, just steal it from them. Or buy it. Or litigate it out of them. It would be a travesty to destroy a region as intellectually fertile as Silicon Valley -- who knows, one of those engineers you intend to kill could be the inventor of your next, great doomsday device.
Villain: Media Mogul Elliot Carver
Goal: Monetary Gain, World Domination
Overly Complicated Plan: Angered by the Chinese government's refusal to grant broadcast rights to his new satellite news network, Carver (Jonathan Pryce) attempts to incite a military confrontation between China and Great Britain. Working behind the scenes, Carver aims to eliminate China's existing leadership and install a puppet dictator more amenable to his terms.
Pragmatic Analysis: Gaining access to the crucial Chinese market is a worthy goal for any aspiring supervillain, but as America has painfully learned in recent years, regime changes can easily go awry. And if the UK-China conflict goes nuclear, a third of the world's population could perish. That can't be good for ratings.
Villain: Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Head of SPECTRE
Goal: Monetary Gain
Overly Complicated Plan: With the help of his creepy gay henchmen, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, perpetual Bond nemesis Blofeld (Charles Gray) accumulates a huge stockpile of diamonds, which he then uses to construct a satellite armed with a powerful laser that, when finished, will allow him to extort millions from various nations.
Pragmatic Analysis: Lasers are undeniably cool, but holding an entire nation for ransom is an exceedingly risky endeavor. A better idea would be to use your monopoly of the worldwide diamond market to artificially prop up the value of your supply. Then, resell the gems on the retail market to unsuspecting customers at an exorbitant markup. It worked wonders for that other sinister international syndicate, DeBeers
Villain: Shipping Magnate Karl Stromberg
Goal: Global Genocide, World Domination
Overly Complicated Plan: Like Moonraker's Drax, embittered billionaire Stromberg is no fan of the human race. Obsessed with all things aquatic, he constructs a massive, state-of-the-art underwater city (appropriately dubbed Atlantis) that will serve as the basis for building a new society. Once safely ensconced in Atlantis, he turns his attention to ridding the earth of its loathsome land dwellers by -- you guessed it -- orchestrating the start of World War III.
Pragmatic Analysis: You had to get greedy, didn't you? The fallout from a global nuclear conflict will turn the world's oceans toxic -- something you might want to consider should you ever be forced to venture out of your little bubble. Leave the humans alone, living out the rest of your evil days in your underwater paradise.
Villain: New York City Drug Kingpin Dr. Kanaga (aka Mr. Big)
Goal: Monetary Gain
Overly Complicated Plan: Jive turkey Kananga (Yaphet Kotto) plans to flood New York with tons of free heroin, which he theorizes will drive his competitors out of business and leave him the sole supplier for a city of addicts.
Pragmatic Analysis: Such methods of undercutting the competition may have worked for the railroad barons, but drug dealing is a more complex business with much lower barriers to entry. Unless you're also able to monopolize supply, expect new competitors to flock to the city as soon as the price of smack returns to previous levels. You're better off cornering the needle market instead.