Who is the biggest Billy Badass in the naval intelligence world? Is it the smooth-talking, tuxedo-clad James Bond or, Thomas Magnum, an American hero who wields a mustache like a medal of valor? Let’s break it down.
We obviously have to begin with “Which James Bond?” since six different actors have portrayed him in movies alone. Sean Connery is the only real choice here but we will defer to Ian Fleming’s books for most of our categories. We are not even going to entertain the idea of the “new” Magnum, P.I., which ranks with the 2012 Red Dawn remake as one of the worst production decisions in entertainment history. A 5’9” Magnum? Higgins is a chick? Seriously? Field Ethos recognizes only one true Magnum, Tom Selleck.
The literary James Bond was 6 feet tall and weighed 167 pounds. He was described as an “all-around athlete; expert pistol shot, boxer, knife-thrower.”
Thomas Magnum was 6’4” and powerfully built. He played quarterback for the U.S. Naval Academy, was a frequent beach volleyball player, and finished 17th in the 1983 Molokai to Oahu Surfski race.
In the film Goldfinger, Bond slaps his lady friend on the ass and tells her to run along, since it’s “man talk” time. Very strong move, Commander.
In Did you See the Sunrise? Part II, Magnum shoots a Soviet KGB Colonel in the face. He had it coming.
Weapon of Choice
When it comes to guns, there is no comparison.
Bond carried a tiny Beretta 418 chambered in .25 ACP before finally stepping up to a .32-caliber Walther PPK in Dr. No. I’m not confident that either of these cartridges would pierce Magnum’s thick mane of chest hair, much less take him out of the fight.
Magnum’s Colt 1911, on the other hand, has been putting bad guys in the dirt since the Pancho Villa expedition. (See KGB Colonel above)
Bond serves in the Secret Intelligence Service, better known as MI6. He joined the Royal Navy in 1941 and served in World War Two.
Magnum was an officer in the SEAL teams and later served in Naval Intelligence. He served three tours in ‘Nam and was awarded the Navy Cross, the second-highest award for valor, as well as a Purple Heart. If we can get a Trump back in the White House, we can probably get that Navy Cross upgraded to a Medal of Honor.
Bond drove a variety of vehicles over the years, most of them tricked-out by Q. The most iconic was a silver Aston Martin DB5. Cool points for the ejection seat, deployable bumpers, and hidden machine guns. 325 horsepower was quite a bit of juice in 1964.
The always-grifting Magnum didn’t actually own a car, preferring to drive Robin Masters’ red Ferrari 308 GTS known as “ROBIN 1.” As cool as this car looked, especially with Magnum at the wheel, its measly 240 horsepower makes it more show than go.
Other than when he was slapping asses poolside, Bond usually wore tailored suits or tuxedos. Classy, sure, but not great fighting attire.
Comfort was Magnum’s priority with Hawaiian shirts, Zimbabwean PH-length shorts (see Schoby’s Safari Gear List here for a full description of them), deck shoes, and his Detroit Tigers hat.
Bond is half Scottish, half Swiss, according to Fleming’s You Only Live Twice. The Scottish are pretty tough (see Braveheart) but the Swiss have been pacifists since Julius Caesar routed the Helvetii at the Battle of Bibracte in 58 BC.
Magnum is a red-blooded American, born in Detroit and raised in Virginia thanks to his father’s military service. For the record, Americans have been kicking British butts since 1775.
This wouldn’t be much of a fight, candidly. The snappy-dressing Bond is witty and great with the ladies but he’s not much of a warrior. Magnum, on the other hand, is easygoing and soft-spoken … right up until he kills you.