Declassified: Who or What is SPECTRE? Details For the Latest Mission
by Alex Billington
December 4, 2014
Your mission, Agent 007, is to find and eliminate the leader of SPECTRE. Who is the leader? None other than Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the mastermind behind many of the world domination evil plans that James Bond has foiled over the years. Earlier today it was officially announced that the title of the upcoming 24th Bond movie will be Spectre, hinting at the return of Blofeld (likely being played by Christoph Waltz even though they're not announcing anything about his character other than the name "Oberhauser") and the evil organization. Bond fans have been patiently awaiting the return of SPECTRE and Blofeld in this newest iteration, and it sounds like they're going all out if the name of the entire movie is the same as organization.
SPECTRE stands for SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, and is the fictional global terrorist organization first created by Ian Fleming featured in the novels before ending up on the big screen. Ernst Blofeld is the German evil genius with aspirations of world domination who runs SPECTRE, which was created to replace the Soviet organization SMERSH. SPECTRE was first mentioned in Dr. No (1962), however Blofeld didn't actually show up as a character until From Russia with Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965). In those two we only get to see his cat and hand until his face is revealed in You Only Live Twice (1967) as played by Donald Pleasence. He's later disposed of in For Your Eyes Only (1981).
As with any good villain, he's not really dead, and can always come back - hence why fans have been waiting for him to return. In the Daniel Craig series of Bond movies, which restarted with his first days of becoming a Double-0 agent, there have been a few ambiguous mentions of evil organizations behind the story. At the very end of Casino Royale, right before it continues into Quantum of Solace, there's a discussion about how much bigger the organization is behind all of this, and getting one guy won't change anything (the typical villain plight). Eventually the one guy that Bond needs to get, Blofeld, will end up as his ultimate adversary.
The SPECTRE command room from Thunderball. Below: Blofeld scene in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
"SPECTRE is a dedicated fraternity whose strength lies in the absolute integrity of its members." –Ernst Stavro Blofeld
What do we know about the new Blofeld? Not much yet. The announcement only says that Christoph Waltz is playing a character named "Oberhauser". The official plot synopsis released explains that: a cryptic message from Bond's past sends him on a trail to uncover a sinister organisation, Spectre. While M battles political forces to keep the secret service alive, Bond peels back the layers of deceit to reveal the terrible truth behind Spectre. So it's obvious that SPECTRE is a key part of the plot and focus moving forward, and I highly doubt they'll kill off Blofeld in this movie. My guess is that this is meant to be our re-introduction to the evil organization, the same way we've been re-introduced to Q, Moneypenny and every other character.
Everyone's calling Christoph Waltz as Blofeld in #SPECTRE but mark these 140 characters: Gonna be Andrew Scott stroking a cat when it's over
— Brian Truitt (@briantruitt) December 4, 2014
The command structure of SPECTRE is organized by numbered ranking: Blofeld is known as "#1" and is the creator/chairman; and in both the films and the novels, Emilio Largo is the "#2" leader in command. If anything happens to Blofeld, then Largo takes over and SPECTRE continues to run. The cabinet originally had a total of 21 members, which is part of the organization's tactic to divert attention away from the leader. It's likely that everything we've seen in Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall so far will have some eventual connection to SPECTRE and Blofeld. The organization is dedicated to gaining wealth and power though criminal schemes that involve extortion, instigation of major wars to gain power and acts of revenge.
A leak in The Daily Mail a few weeks ago pegged Christoph Waltz as Blofeld, with a source saying that he's playing a character who is "extremely cunning" and one of Bond's "nemesis of sorts", which would link everything together. Blofeld is to Bond what Moriarty is to Sherlock Holmes. They're finally going down that route of pitting Bond against his greatest nemesis by re-introducing Blofeld and SPECTRE, and they're not shying away from the fact that it's coming (hence the title). The first official teaser poster is even a direct connection to the Octopus logo for SPECTRE, as seen in this comparison photo (Blofeld's ring on the left):
In addition to being the inspiration for Mike Myers' Dr. Evil, Blofeld is the evil genius behind many of the world domination plans from the early era of Bond movies spanning Sean Connery and Roger Moore. It's very likely that the other cast members are part of SPECTRE as well, including David Bautista as Mr. Hinx and perhaps (though not likely) Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra, or Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann. (We can't forget that one of SPECTRE's other top members was ex-KGB agent Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love.) If you're looking for the best SPECTRE moments to brief yourself on their potential, we recommend: From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (this one rules!), Diamonds Are Forever and For Your Eyes Only (where he finally meets his maker).
These are the latest details from MI6 about SPECTRE as you embark upon your mission. Good luck. We'll be following closely and keeping you briefed before Spectre arrives in theaters starting November 6th, 2015.