Sean Connery convinced us all that to be a totally kickass spy all you needed was a nice suit, a martini and a wang that did your thinking for you. But where Bond stopped to make sure his Aston Martin was looking its best before taking out his one nemesis and his gimmick-laden crony, there are real-life spies who etched their names in history with the sheer size of their balls.
5Richard Sorge Turned World War II
Richard Sorge was an expert marksman, fluent in several languages and sported a Ph.D. in political science (because every spy should be able to distract you with a speech on the sociopolitical impact of poverty while he shoots you with a poison wrist-dart).
He was recruited by the Soviet Union and has even been referred to as "Stalin's James Bond," though it was in a French newspaper who said it and God only knows what their standard for that title is.And then, shit got real...
When Hitler came to power in 1933, Sorge was sent to Japan to assess any threat towards to the Soviet Union. Through his network, Sorge learned of the attack on Pearl Harbor months before it happened and even the exact date of Operation Barbarossa (the Nazi invasion of the USSR). And he did it all without a single snowmobile chase (that we know of).
File photo of Sorge from the Covert Super Spy Newsletter.
So his info gave the Soviets a huge advantage, right? Well, Stalin, being a prick, dismissed Sorge as "a little shit who has set himself up with some small factories and brothels in Japan." Sorge turned out to be right, of course, and millions of Russians died. You should always pay attention to little shits in Japanese brothels.
Go on, suck my dick, Stalin.
Then, when Stalin was afraid the Japanese would follow the Nazis into the USSR, Sorge managed to photocopy reports that proved Japan was not going to invade. This meant the USSR army could throw all its might at the German Nazi invasion, and may have turned the tide of the entire war.
But, you can only steal so many massive secrets before someone finally catches on. Sorge was captured and then offered to the Soviets three times in exchange for Japanese prisoners, but no one took them up on the offer. Sorge never admitted who he worked for, even under torture. After three years he was hanged.
If not for Sorge, it's entirely possible the Nazis would have won, and to this day Russia would likely be a festering heap of sausage and oom-pah bands. In 1964, the Soviets finally acknowledged him as one of their own and commemorated his service by putting his face on a stamp. He probably would have preferred not being hanged.
Favorable Comparison to Bond: Disapproving Superiors
The most badass thing you'll ever lick.
Whenever Bond fails (always temporarily of course), it's always because some higher-up disapproves of his sexily unorthodox methods. Sorge was a victim of the same "he's just too goddamn manly to be trusted" discrimination, only in his case, instead of a matronly M clucking her tongue at his wandering penis, it was Joseph fucking Stalin.