Friday, March 18, 2011

Top Ten Bond Villains Translated to Star Wars

Continuing the Bond/Star Wars mash-up theme, this post is dedicated to ten of my favorite Bond Villains and how they might translate into a Star Wars setting. Be advised that this list (like everything else on the blog) is highly subjective. I'll try to point out WHY I like the villain in question as we go.

10. Elektra King

Elektra King (from The World(Galaxy) is Not Enough) made the list because she marks the first (and so far only) Female main villain in a Bond movie. Oh, there have been plenty of female villains in other Bond movies, but in this case she was the driving force behind it all. She's also gorgeous (Actress Sophie Marceau)- which can't be said of many others on this list. And finally, she is that rare instance where Bond kills a woman in cold blood. "You'll miss me" Elektra insists. BLAM. "I never miss." Bond replies.

Elektra's Star Wars alter-ego would change little from the one presented in the source film. She is the daughter of a mining Tycoon and a noblewoman. She was kidnapped in her youth (late teens) and her father (on advice from New Republic Intelligence) refused to pay the Ransom. This left her feeling bitter towards her father- whom she already disliked because she felt he was trying to steal the 'birthright' of her noble family. Elektra was eventually rescued, but unknown to anyone, she had secretly manipulated and won-over her captor- so much so that years later he becomes her willing pawn and partner in a plan to kill her own father and destroy her business rivals.

Elektra is a human female who at first appears to be both strong-willed and vulnerable. She is a master manipulator, well aware of her looks and wiles and how to use them. Though a thoroughly 'modern' businesswoman, she also plays up the exotic airs of her noble heritage. One of her ears had been disfigured during her kidnapping (perhaps sent as part of the ransom request?) she keeps this hidden by both an elaborate earring and her long hairstyle.

While not a particularly skilled combatant, Elektra would be highly intelligent and adept at the persuasive arts- be they charm, con or persuasion.

9. Alec Travelyan

Alec Travelyan is the main villain in GoldenEye. He stands out to me for several reasons. First of all, he represents to me a 'mirror image' of Bond- an 'evil twin' or what Bond could become if he ever turned 'evil'. Secondly, he is portrayed as a one-time friend of Bond, thus bringing up the question of whether or not all that friendship was faked, or if there is some small bit of goodness left in him. And finally, he's played by Sean Bean. I like Sean Bean- and he looks suitably villainous with that fire-scarred face.

Alec Travelyan's Star Wars background would go back to the dark days of the rise of the Empire. Here, his parents- a prominent Imperial family, would have been killed during one of the very early uprisings against the Empire. He was then taken in by the Rebellion, raised by an officer there and growing to adulthood within its ranks. When he came of age, he became a Rebel soldier and then field agent, eventually teaming up with others like him. All the while, however, her harbored a secret hatred for the Rebellion for killing his parents (even if their deaths were unintended). This hatred eventually boils over, resulting in him faking his own death and using his intimate knowledge of Rebel and New Republic intelligence to strike a blow at the whole of the Government, to attempt to single-handedly bring it low.

Alec is a human, male (as befits his Imperial heritage). He is capable, brave and seemingly loyal, but ultimately a slave to his own need for revenge. In faking his own death, he was accidentally scarred by the actions of his fellow agents. In the intervening years, he has build up a criminal organization aimed at striking a mortal blow against the people that he blames for the death of his parents. Though a masterful planner, his hatred has warped his sense of reality, leaving him hollow. Unlike in the film, I see him as also retaining just a bit of the goodness he might have felt while serving as a Rebel agent- but not enough to sway him from his ultimately self-destructive course.

Alec would be a highly skilled combatant and agent, easily the equal of any player character agents sent to find him.

8. Le Chiffre

He has a French name, so of course he's bad. Just kidding! Le Chiffre stood out to me in Casino Royale by being so damn creepy as portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen. That freaky scarred eye that weeped blood. Plus, there is that whole torture scene. Ouch.

I a Star Wars setting, I see Le Chiffre as a Duros- with big, creepy eyes, one of which is scarred and discolored and (when he is under pressure) leaks blue-green blood. He is a mathematical genius and lover of strategy games and games of chance. He is also responsible for managing the finances of many unsavory underworld types, from criminal organizations to terrorists to assassins and spies. Unfortunately, he's been using THEIR money as his own, and has had a recent string of bad luck. Thus, he is using what he has left to enter into a high-stakes Sabbacc tournament and win back the funds he has lost before his clients find and/or kill him. He is utterly ruthless and calculating, willing to win at any cost (poison, torture, murder)- but he is also subtle and indirect in his actions.

Le Chiffre is a relatively unskilled combatant, but a very dangerous gambler and liar- with an almost unbeatable Sabbacc face.

7. Max Zorin

Seriously, he's played by Christopher Walken- the king of oddly creepy. So what if 'A View to a Kill' sucked. I still like Walken, and thus by association, Zorin.

Zorin is a human male that is actually part of a defunct Imperial genetic engineering program. He was raised by the scientist who 'grew' him and groomed to be the perfect Imperial agent. He nearly fit the bill, too. He was a genius and physically powerful. Unfortunately, he was also unstable- a true sociopath with no loyalty for anything but himself (or perhaps his 'father'). In any case, when the Empire fell, Zorin disappeared, emerging after the chaos as the apparently 'clean' CEO of a computer technology corporation. But while maintaining an outwardly legitimate front, Zorin indulged in numerous criminal operations, not the least of which is his current plan to ruin a rival corporation by staging a 'natural disaster' to destroy their primary manufacturing plant. True to form, he doesn't care if millions or even billions are killed in the process.

Zorin is a highly skilled combatant and agent as well as a skilled businessman. He is not afraid to 'get his feet wet' with the dirtywork, either. In fact, he enjoys indulging in killing people personally, finding the work...amusing. In short, he is truly insane.

6. Emilio Largo

Portrayed by Adolfo Celi, Largo established the cliché of the eyepatch-wearing supervillain. How can you NOT love the guy who inspired Austin Powers "Number Two".

I see Largo as a Corellian (human) masquerading publicly as a shipping tycoon while secretly serving a second in command to the shadowy 'SPECTRE' terrorist organization. While putting on airs as a 'respectable businessman', Largo's darker nature isn't far beneath. He is ruthless, power-hungry, a casual-killer and abusive (particularly to his lady friends). He also hates to lose, and can be goaded in this manner. Largo is currently working on a plan to extort money from the New Republic by stealing Imperial superweapons (star-destroying 'resonance torpedos') from the Republic before they can be decommissioned. He operates this pan out of his palatial, asteroid-base estate (which comes complete with a pen of rare, killer Mynocks) and his private Yacht (which actually houses a break-away high-speed escape craft).

While Largo does not like to face combat situations himself, he is a skilled enough combatant (if somewhat out of practice). He is a master planner and schemer who prefers others to do his dirty work. He is also a highly skilled pilot and EVA specialist. Though he fancies himself a gambler, he is not as good as he thinks he is.

5. Kananga

Kananga, portrayed by Yaphet Koto in the 'blacksploitation' Bond movie "Live and Let Die", is notable for a couple reasons. The first is that his alter ego (the drug Kingpin Mr. Big) is so goofy superfly that it is hilarious. Secondly he dies one of the more gruesome deaths in the series (inflated by a compressed air capsule and 'popped'). Third he has this creepy voodoo/fortune-telling vibe that isn't ENTIRELY dismissed as 'fake' in the movie- which leaves room for an interesting and entirely Star War 'twist'.

In a Star Wars setting, I see Kananga as a dark-skinned human who happens to have some ability with the Force- specifically the Dark side. He is no Sith Lord, but he knows enough to help set himself up as dictator of a small, independent planet and to manipulate the people of that planet by perpetuating a cult dedicated to dark spirits. Sure, most of it is just for show, but there is more than a little truth to the real power behind this man. He is aided in his task by the acquisition of a Force sensitive young woman (Solitaire) who he acquired as a child (perhaps by killing her parents?) and raised to be his 'apprentice' and private soothsayer (and eventually, lover). Outwardly, Kananga portrays a refined and sympathetic ruler attempting to lead his world through the chaos of the disintegration of the Empire and the Rise of the new republic. Behind the scenes, however, he runs a ruthless spice production and smuggling operation under the alias of "Mr. Big". In both endeavors, he makes use of bloody pseudo-religious dark-side practices to spread fear in his enemies and to keep his own people in line. His immediate goals are to build his criminal organization, though his ambitions may spread beyond this as his personal power grows.

Kananga is a relatively skilled combatant, but prefers to work from behind the scenes. His Force skills are self-taught- and limited for the moment, and center mainly around generating an aura of fear and in the ability to 'read' his opponents and manipulate his underlings. He relies on Solitaire for her innate talent of precognition- and keeps her 'pure' by having taught her that her power will go away if she ever has sex- a falsehood she believes in, since Kananga raised her.

4. Dr. No

Dr. No was the first bond Villain and set the bar for those who followed- even if he did wear that incredibly silly plastic trash-can 'radiation helmet'. I don't think any list of Bond villains would be complete without him in its upper echelons.

In a Star Wars setting, I envision Dr. No as a half-breed Chiss/Human- tall and lean with pale, bluish tinged skin and reddish tinged eyes. He had a brutal childhood in the streets of his remote homeworld. Due to his intelligence and ruthlessness, he managed (despite his half-breed status) to achieve rank in the a major criminal organization there- but quickly sold them out and fled to the galaxy at large, taking work from various criminal and terrorist organizations along the way- even serving for a time with Imperial Intelligence. During this time, he suffered extensive injury to both arms, resulting in them being replace by cybernetics. He specifically chose metallic replacements due to their intimidating appearance. Eventually, he was recruited in the ranks of SPECTRE and set out to spark more conflict between the New Republic and Empire in order to bolster SPECTRE sales of weapons and the like to both sides.

Dr. No would be a powerful hand-to-hand combatant, making deadly use of his cybernetic hands. Even so, he typically shuns such physical activity, preferring to act indirectly through underlings-and perhaps getting some perverse sense of pleasure in threatening and 'punishing' them when they fail.

3. Scaramanga

I am aware that "The Man with the Golden Gun" is NOT the best movie. Not by a long shot. But the character Scaramanga was a great concept- and he was played by Christopher Lee. That man is a genius at playing creepy bad guys. Plus? He had three nipples and a custom gun that fired only one shot- all he ever needed to get the job done.

Scaramanga in Star Wars would be very much like the one seen in the movies. A human assassin for hire, but one with extensive personal power beyond his 'station' (such as his own personal asteroid base and semi-official protection from the Hutts, who often employ him. His origins are quite odd- having been raised in a circus, performing feats of marksmanship. His only real friend there was a Bantha that was part of the show. One day, the Bantha went berserk and the local policemen had to kill it. Scaramanga retaliated by killing the policemen- and thus found his calling. Unlike many other Bond villains, Scaramanga has no grandiose plans for world domination. Rather, he is content to simply live in opulent style and continually 'test' himself against the best marksmen and killers the Galaxy has to offer. This is his true passion, proving that he is the best. He does this by first gaining the notice of a potential rival then luring them to his private asteroid. Once there, he engages them in combat in his deadly, purpose-built funhouse maze.

Scaramanga is one of the deadliest marksmen in the Galaxy, and is quite talented in all manner of combat and espionage techniques.

2. Auric Goldfinger

Starring in the film that bears his (last) name, Goldfinger is easily one of the most memorable Bond villains in what is arguably one of the best Bond movies ever. But yes. His name is just silly (which is while I will refer to him as 'Auric' through the rest of this profile). He has what is one of the best villain lines ever in response to Bond's question: "Do you expect me to talk?". Goldfinger: "No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to DIE!". It is delivered with such cheerful menace. Love it.

In a Star Wars setting I see Auric as a (relatively) young Hutt- just a bit more mobile than Jabba, but no less ruthless and cunning. He is completely obsessed with Aurodium, a scintillating gold metal valued throughout the Galaxy. While masquerading as a legitimate businessman, he secretly smugglles the metal. Not content with his already vast wealth, Auric seeks to increase the value of what he already has by irradiating (and thus making useless) a major amount of the New Republic's own stockpile of Aurodium. Thus he is planning something he calls 'Operation Grand Slam', a raid on a highly defended New Republic banking vault. But Auric is not just greedy, he is completely amoral, crushing any who get in his way. He is also elaborate in the deaths he inflicts on his enemies, sometimes killing them via asphyxiation with Aurodium paint; Other times having them cast into molten pits of the metal; and still other times utilizing cutting lasers to vivisect them. Another defining trait of Auric is his dislike of losing. He wants to win, no matter what the endeavor- and is willing to cheat to achieve his goals.

Auric is not a combatant- he operates through his army of skilled henchmen and past them through other, minor crime families. He is highly intelligent, but also arrogant and prone to dramatics even when more direct methods might be more efficient.

1. Ernst Stavro Blofeld

The ultimate Bond villain- appearing (in one form or another) in many different movies in the franchise- even if we don't ever get to see what he looks like until "You Only Live Twice". I mean, come on, the deep, faceless voice, the hands stroking his cat as he sits in audience over SPECTRE. It is GREAT melodramatic stuff.

I see Blofeld very much as he is shown in the movies- a bald human of medium build with a scar running through one eye. He is the ultimate mastermind behind SPECTRE and its Galaxy spanning terrorist and criminal activities. Like the other villains mentioned before, he is utterly ruthless- with no patience for failure within his own ranks. He is involved with schemes ranging from simple extortion of money to the destruction of planets to the toppling of Galactic governments. His one weakness, however, is his tendency to 'show off' to his enemies, keeping them alive when he should kill them- just to prove his own superiority. He is, of course, never without his pet- in this case a pleasant looking, but actually quite vicious white-furred beast his henchmen found on some remote world. In this case, it is not just for show, but also his final line of defense against would be assassins.

Though Blofeld is a genius in the realm of planning, organization, manipulation and ruling through fear, he is at best a passable combatant- preferring to allow others to do the fighting and dieing for him. Being a 'planner', Blofeld has the nasty habit of ALWAYS having a plan-B, C, D, etc.. in case things go bad- he's always got an escape route.

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