We discussed Bond villains the other day, but as we know, in the James Bond movie universe, a villain is nothing without a good henchman (or henchwoman) at his side to do his dirty work. For today’s poll, let’s vote on the best of these nefarious nogoodniks.
As it happens, the very first characters to appear on screen in a James Bond film were villainous henchmen – the so-called “Three Blind Mice” who assassinate a British agent at the start of ‘Dr. No‘. However, the first henchman to play a critical role throughout the entire plot of a Bond film came with the next entry, in the form of Robert Shaw as the steely assassin Red Grant in ‘From Russia with Love‘. Of course, the most famous henchman in the franchise would be Auric Goldfinger’s right-hand man Oddjob, from ‘Goldfinger‘. The popularity of this character started a tradition of colorful henchmen with quirky names who often stole the spotlight from their evil masters.
Later characters in this mold have included the claw-handed Tee Hee in ‘Live and Let Die‘, the diminutive Nick Nack in ‘The Man with the Golden Gun‘ and the fearsome Jaws in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (who returned in ‘Moonraker‘, where he was sadly downgraded to comic relief).
‘The World Is Not Enough‘ brought us a twist on the formula, wherin the presumed villain of the piece (Robert Carlyle’s Renard) turned out to be just a henchman for the real mastermind behind the plot.
Perhaps the most underrated of all the series’ henchman may be the brutally efficient Mr. Stamper in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’.
All of the Bond films feature henchmen in some capacity (often multiple per movie), but unfortunately not all of them are as memorable as these. I’ve tried to restrict the below poll to the ones who, in my mind, stand out above the rest or are critical to the plot of their movies. An underling who appears on screen for just a few seconds to be dispatched by Bond may not have merited inclusion. The series has also featured a few characters whose roles have straddled the line between good and evil, such as Pussy Galore, who starts out as Goldfinger’s henchwoman but later switches sides to assist Bond. I elected not to include her in this poll, because I think that she’s ultimately considered a heroine, not a henchperson.
If I’ve missed someone that you consider a favorite, be sure to mention it in the Comments.
Don’t forget to get your preorder in for the ‘Bond 50’ collection on Amazon, if you haven’t already.