The Greatest Secret Agents Known to Fiction

Secret agents are great aren’t they?

Out of all the spies you know (or don’t), throughout history, they will never compare to a spy you know in the world of fiction. Once James Bond set that bar, there was no raising it, only trying to get to it. With Skyfall having been released last week, it seems appropriate to compare some of the greatest fictional spies of all time. There were so many to list, only a few were chosen to represent the more discreet side of the ka-razy world of fiction. Seriously, there’s so many secret agents and spies it’s like finding pennies on the ground. From the unappreciated to the pretty-freaking-obvious.

No particular order by the way, that’s all up to you folks. You won’t see Austin Powers on the list, just to let you know ahead of time. I’m still sick the impressions.

1. James Bond

Appearances: All twenty-three James Bond films, multiple novels and short stories

Awesome Scale (1-10): 10

Spy Scale (1-10): 10

Can you say : “Of course?” You probably already have. Bond has been around since before 95% of the people reading this and doesn’t show any signs of stopping. We’re all familiar with Bond and if you haven’t watched Skyfall, get out there and do it now, your life is wasting away. Bond is the what all other secret agents are compared to.

He is to spies what Einstein is to smart people and he’s not even real. He gets a ten out of ten in Awesome for the obvious reasons but he gets a ten on the Spy Scale because he mixes business and pleasure without letting them interfere. Not to mention, he finds a use for each gadget no matter how ridiculous. He always gets caught (it’s inevitable, his villains are geniuses), but manages to escape and save everybody.

Look at this guy-

Bond was physically modeled after him, whose name is actually Hoagie Carmichael (jeez), a famous American singer and actor at that time who even composed “Georgia on My Mind.” In the books, Bond is described as looking like him, albeit “cold and ruthless.”

2. Jason Bourne

Appearances: All ten books in the Bourne novel series, The Bourne film trilogy, The Bourne Conspiracy (video game), Brief appearacnes in The Bourne Legacy (2012)

Awesome Scale: 8

Spy Scale: 8

Best known for the Matt Damon films, the character of Jason Bourne has been around since his first novel in 1980. While the films loosely follow the books (It’s a different medium, gotta cut’em some slack), both involve the amnesiac super agent, Jason Bourne, who has to beat everyone senseless on his mission to find out who he is again.

On one hand, you’ve got to give it to Bourne who can use weapons as lame as a pen to dispatch trained assassins sent to kill him. He doesn’t even know who he is, yet he can kill with the simplest of objects on his way to find out.

This gives him an eight on Awesome but it takes points off on the Spy Scale due to the fact that if you can’t remember what you were even doing as an agent in the first place, you must not currently be doing any good at your actual job.

The tenth Bourne book was released earlier this year. Although if you’re a fan, you’d know already.

3. Black Widow

Appearances:Various Comic Appearances, Iron Man 2 (2010), The Avengers (2012)

Awesome Scale: 8

Spy Scale: 6

Natalya Romanova, a former KGB spy and Iron Man villain, she has since defected and gone on to become a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as the Avengers. And to get it on with subsequently every male character meant to have any sort of sex appeal, most notably Daredevil. This has at times something she uses to her advantage much like Bond, while it has also gotten her into more trouble than it’s worth.

Like most comic book characters, the longer she’s around the more ridiculous her abilities get. From Olympic level gymnast to just into super-power level abilities, Romanova’s not one to mess with. All this, and she only gets a 6 on the Spy Scale you say? When you live in a world where Thor exists, there’s only so much your ability to interrogate and CQC training is going to do.

Originally, Emily Blunt was going to portray her but was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflict and the part went to Scarlett Johansson. Widow’s next on-screen appearance is set for 2014’s Captain America sequel. while her solo film has been in discussion for a while. Don’t hold your breath.

4. Solid Snake

Appearances: The Metal Gear Solid series (1987-2008), Metal Gear Solid novelizations, Smash Brothers Brawl

Awesome Scale: 10

Spy Scale: 9

Call me biased but any guy who was literally created for the purposes of being a super spy is a complete failure if he isn’t a ten in at least one of these categories. Secretly cloned from the greatest soldier to have ever existed, Snake has fought the man he was cloned from, his “brother” clones, massive walking tanks, super human terrorists, and an omniscient black hand government. And all with a shrug of the shoulders and a puff on his cigarette.

One of the great things about the character of Snake is that while he openly discourages violence to his contacts that think of him as a hero, his antagonists are much quicker to label him a murderer who enjoys his work, giving way to a dichotomy of character usually found in reality and unusually deep for a medium that usually employs the method of “HERE’S A GUN. SHOOT EVERYTHING.”

5. Ethan Hunt

Appearances: The Mission: Impossible film series, I-IV.

Awesome Scale: 6

Spy Scale: 6

Portrayed by Tom Cruise in every appearance, there’s a similar problem with Hunt as with Bourne. While Bourne can’t get his crap together and remember who he is, Cruise and every single one of his team mates from IMF, the Impossible Missions Force, can’t seem to get halfway though a mission before all their home lives start throwing themselves on the tracks, getting in every body’s way. Their equipment is always breaking down at the worst moments too.

Hunt is capable of doing some pretty awesome things though; in the latest Mission: Impossible, Ghost Protocol, he scales the sides of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest building. Cruise actually performed all the stunts you see. See? You knew that guy was crazy, just not for the same reasons.

But for all the good and bad, he can’t be any higher on the scale due to the fact that no matter how many times he’s betrayed by “someone on the inside,” Hunt cant’ get the point that he should probably bail on his superiors who couldn’t spot a traitor if their jobs depended on it.

6. Douglas Quaid/Hauser

Appearances: We Can Remember it for You Wholesale (short story), Total Recall films(1990/2012)

Awesome Scale: 10

Spy Scale: 1

In what is one of the most popular article I’ve written on this site thus far, I go over many of the reasons that will be summed up here on why Quaid/Hauser is an awesome dude, but a terrible agent. First off, he’s Arnold, immediately making cool regardless of your argument.

He kills everyone in his way to regain his memory (similar to Bourne still), be it Earth or Mars, he’s going to get his memory, get the girl and kill the bad guys. Not only this, he liberates Mars from that greedy bad man who wants to keep all that precious oxygen to himself.

The problem? HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE WORKING FOR THAT GUY. It’s like that kid who catches the football, dodges every player that’s more athletic than him, ignores all those parents who thought he was a loser, and dives for the goal line…only to realize he ran the wrong way. Quaid had been fighting the guys that not employed him, but were his friends.

On the upside, not doing his job freed Mars from its oppressive rule so on the “Humanity Scale,” Quaid gets a ten.

7. Jinx

Appearances: Various comic appearances, A “cameo” in the awful GI JOE: The Rise of Cobra, the upcoming sequel GI JOE: Retaliation

Awesome Scale: 7

Spy Scale: 7

No, not lame-o Halle Berry in Die Another Day. This is the female ninja recruited by Snake Eyes himself. And if Snake Eyes thinks you’re worth recruiting, you’re automatically a seven even if you go onto destroy the world. Actually that might make your points go up.

While she can only fare so well in a world where Storm Shadow can come in at any time and cut you to pieces, her unique ability is that she actually sword-fights better when she’s blindfolded. Explain that, reality! You can’t! It’s what makes her awesome.

Elodie Yung will be playing her in GI JOE: Retaliation, due out March 29, 2013.

8. Agent Zero

Appearances: Various Marvel comic appearances, X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009)

Awesome Scale: 7

Spy Scale: 9

While his film counterpart is Agent X in name, it’s in name alone do they share any traits. The agent known as David North (former alias Maverick in the 90s), Agent Zero is able to absorb all kinds of blows, be them physical or otherwise with little to no harm to himself.

He’s also got all the other great spy stuff going on for him: mysterious past, expert marksmanship skills, fighting skills all that. One more ability he had before losing all of his powers on M-Day, North had the “anti-power” of which he was able to destroy a mutant’s healing ability. Effective when fighting someone like Sabretooth.

Even without his powers, Zero is extremely effective as an agent as his natural abilities and tools are used to their full extent, including a knife made of the same material as Wolverine’s bones.

9. Maxwell Smart

Appearances: Get Smart, The Nude Bomb (1980), Get Smart, Again! (1989), Get Smart (2008)

Awesome Scale: 6

Spy Scale: 4

Maxwell Smart couldn’t help but pop up here because he’s likable. He’s Austin Powers without the annoying catchphrases. He’s got catchphrases sure, but they’re not annoying.

Smart could easily be likened to Inspector Clouseau of The Pink Panther series by his way of solving crimes based on three things: sheer chance, dumb luck, and a partner that actually knows what they’re doing. In Smart’s case, Agent 99 is always there for him.

Much like Bond, Smart has got his gadgets as well although they don’t quite have the same efficiency. His most famous gadget is his shoe phone, in which he has to take off one his nasty shoes to put the heel up to his ear so he can get his orders from Chief. Below is the infamous intro. Still funny, even today.

10. Jack Bauer

Appearances: All eight seasons of the TV series, 24

Awesome Scale: 6

Spy Scale: 10

Starring in one of the most universally, critically loved shows of our time, “Intense” is probably the word that best describes the show and it’s star. But hey, if you hire Keifer Sutherland to be your leading man but you have a problem with intensity, you not only picked the wrong man, you should be fired.

The awesome of 24′s Jack Bauer awesomeness is scaled back by the fact that he doesn’t have time for it. There are no gadgets, or women. There are no jokes here or there, or blindfolds to make him better at shooting people’s faces. He just shoots regularly and tortures a lot of people. But hey, all in a day’s work. Get it?

That being said, he has no time for awesome because he’s so dang busy saving the world for the fiftieth time which gets him a ten in the spy world. Though he should be a nine for his allowing his stupid kid to be kidnapped so much.

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