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Bond baddies

Black currents


NEW NOIR: Silva, the new Bond baddie, played by Spanish actor Javier Bardem in 'Skyfall'

Bond baddies have always tapped into real world fears to spook audiences.

Beware of your laptops, Bond fans. Because according to your hero - in the trailer for Skyfall, Bond's latest out ing - the biggest threats to global security are leering albinos and Wikileaks. Or at least a sinister fictional equivalent led by an evil mastermind not called Julian. Indeed, Silva (the new blond baddie, played by Spanish actor Javier Bardem) is but the latest in a long line of Bond adversaries who've smartly stood in for a whole host of real world perils over the years, imagined or otherwise.

In fact, do consider Bond's beginnings, as a Cold War-era creation, and the fact that our favourite superspy was brought the big screen in the shadow of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 Besides setting the template for much to come in the Bond universe, that film, Dr No, also invented the prototypical Bond villain. Dr Julius No is a megalomaniacal genius with vaguely socialist leanings, who's also a half-breed (German-Chinese ) with a secret lair who wields, quite literally, iron fists, and seeks to unleash terror on the US. Why, even No's threads give it away too: he wears something that resembles a Mao suit, a sartorial that Bond's greatest foe, the pussycat-stroking Ernst Blofeld, head of SPECTRE, would also later pick up on.

For Bond, though, saving the world from bad fashion choices, oversize egos and nuclear holocausts is clearly old hat now. Besides several Cold War-inflected films in which Bond prevents nuclear blackmail (Thunderball, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice, Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough) it's not been only geopolitics. Bond has also battled global threats ranging from drugs to voodoo (Licence to Kill, Live and Let Die), and all kinds of bad guys from hoarders to hackers - some indication of how Bond screenwriters have attempted to maintain both the character's relevance and his unique global appeal by updating him for the times.

For instance, besides stomping around Europe beating up oddly Slavic characters, Bond has also been a longtime visitor to Asia, foreshadowing the continent's later rise, by routinely dropping in to tackle current threats to the Anglo-Saxon-led world order. He's sampled oriental wiles in Hong Kong, Turkey, Japan and China several times, first landed up in South East Asia just as its Tiger economies began getting their act together (in 1974's The Man with the Golden Gun), got the royal treatment in India (1983's Octopussy), fought the Soviets in Afghanistan (in a 'shalwar kameez', no less, in The Living Daylights) and been tortured by dour North Koreans in the early 2000s.

The Bond films have looked ahead to other developments, too. In addition to several global terrorist outfits and evil tycoons found sprinkled across the franchise's 22 films, bioterror threatened the world in 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, while computer-related threats were found aplenty in the films of the late '70s and '80s, with Bond even saving Silicon Valley in A View To A Kill (1985). Moonraker (1979) prefigured Ronald Reagan's 'Star Wars' initiative, while a Rupert Murdoch-like media baron endangered world peace in a '90s film;but only to make way for more sophisticated terror mongers like Le Chiffre in Casino Royale (2005), who is described as having made a fortune by smartly shorting airline stocks a day before 9/11.

Staying close to the grapevine and frequently updating things do have their benefits, clearly.

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