Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t know about the log jam of baddies that Spider-Man will have to contend with in his upcoming new flick Spider-Man: No Way Home? Featuring as least five villains from across Spidey’s various franchises, it’s easy to see why the filmmakers have gone so hard when giving the Web Head an immense roadblock to overcome in his newest adventure. Boasting a rogues gallery second only to Batman, Spider-Man’s array of life takers and law breakers is one of the strongest in comics, however, how many have actually of these superpowered scoundrels have managed to transfer successfully over to the realm of film? Join me now as we sort the Shockers from the Electros and find out which Goblin is greenest as we deside who makes the short list for the sinister… err… five (should be six, I know but it’s a top five, what do you want from me?).
5) The Vulture aka. Adrian Toomes (Spider-Man: Homecoming – 2017)
On initial inspection, Homecoming’s winged black market arms dealer seemed to be a bit of a waste of the craggy livewire known as Michael Keaton. Impressive, metal wingspan and tricked out Chitauri weaponry aside, Adrian Toomes intially seemed like a textbook slice of vanilla villainy that Marvel naysayers have complained about in the past. However, while featuring in some stirring ariel battles with Tom Holland’s try hard vigilante, The Vulture’s finest moment is one where he’s out of costume. Finally going on a date with high school crush Liv, Peter Parker knocks on her door only to find out that her father is the exact same nemesis he’s been fighting – it’s a nifty riff on the scary dad trope seen in countless teen movies made infinitely more intimidating by the fact he has a suit with razor sharp wings stashed in a warehouse. The MCU Spider-Films have always tried to equip their villains with a twist and Vulture’s one is high on the pecking order.
4) Kingpin aka. Wilson Fisk (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse – 2018)
If for no other reason, Liev Schreiber’s mountainous Kingpin of crime deserves a place on this list over also-rans like Sandman and The Lizard thanks to the fact that he’s the only one who’s actually succeeded in killing the wall crawler. Admittedly, he snuffs a Spider-Man and not the Spider-Man due to the machinations of a movie that features multiple arachnid based spider people, but that’s one more than the Rhino, that’s for sure.
But while animation manages to gift us a Wilson Fisk that’s somehow even huskier than both Michael Clarke Duncan and Vincent D’Onofrio combined, it’s the reason behind his multiverse fracture that make him so memorable as he’s trying to find a reality where his wife and child are still alive.
3) Mysterio aka. Quentin Beck (Spider-Man: Far From Home – 2019)
If you had told me ten years ago that we would get a comic accurate costume for a cinematic Mysterio, not only would I have laughed in your face, I probably would have spat in it too. After all, the bowl-headed master of illusion has possibly one of the most famously bizarre costumes this side of Kraven The Hunter’s lion-faced gillet and the fact that he was being brought to life by Jake Gyllenhaal made the purple cape/glass dome ensemble seem even less likely.
Not only is he virtually perfect, he’s also responsible for one of the greatest scenes in Spidey’s movie career when he uses holographic drones to turn Peter’s reality upside down in stiring fashion. While Beck’s twist might not have been as shocking as The Vulture’s (no way Marvel convinces a comics fan that Mysterio’s a decent bloke), Gyllenhaal’s triumphant speech after the rug pull makes all of his subterfuge worth it.
2) Green Goblin aka. Norman Osborn (Spider-Man – 2002)
Surely there was no other actor that could have been chosen to portray Peter Parker’s greatest enemy than William Dafoe. Christ, he even looks like the guy – paint his face an eerie shade of jade and you wouldn’t even need a mask! However, director Sam Raimi decided to forgo the floppy cowled Halloween costume in favour of a more armour based battle suit that ultimately felt more Power Rangers than cackling arch enemy. However, luckily for us, Dafoe’s utterly unhinged performance managed to win through thanks to peals of insane laughter, a gravely voice and a good chunk of Gollum style schizophrenia. In fact, he did such a good job that the appearance of that once-maligned suit in the No Way Home trailers brought surprising waves of nostalgia instead of the fanboy disappointment expressed back in 2002. If you need any more proof that Dafoe is the one and true Goblin king, compare him with James Franco’s bland New Goblin or Dane Dehaan’s misjudged attempt and see why they’re green with envy after pumpkin bombing so hard.
Sick fucking glider too.
1) Doctor Octopus aka. Otto Octavius (Spider-Man 2 – 2004)
Spider-Man 2 is a comic book movie that gets virtually everything right, but perhaps it’s most crowning achievement is that of Alfred Molina’s swirling armed maniac, Doctor Octopus – true, his origin is arguably a bit too similar to Osborn’s, but when he gets going, Otto knocks us well and truly blotto. Going from a benevolent scientist to a poor wretch with four mechanical arms grafted right onto his body, we’re introduced to exactly what Doc Ock can do in an Evil Dead inspired sequence where he checks out a room full of surgeons with maximum prejudice while later he counteracts the majority of Spider-Man’s tricks by being just as versatile as his webbed adversary. Super strength? No problem. Building scaling? Piece of piss. Able to fend off an umbrella attack by Aunt May? Hey, he’s a supervillain, not god.
There’s a good reason that No Way Home’s ad campaign have leaned so heavily on Molina’s return to the role (compare it to the fact we don’t even know who’s playing Lizard or Sandman at this time) and that’s because the cephalopod scientist is currently the gold standard of cinematic Spidey antagonists.
Honorable Mention: J. Jonah Jameson
While technically not a villain, there’s no other Marvel character alive who’s been a bigger pain in Peter Parker’s Spider-tush than gruff newspaper editor James Jonah Jameson Jr.. Arguably the single greatest piece of casting in the history of comic book cinema, J.K. Simmons’ version emerged on screen fully formed and almost 100% comic accurate, with perfect dialogue (“Who is Spider-Man? He’s a CRIMINAL, that’s who he is!”) and a flat top hairsyle you could lay a spirit level on.
His unexpected, but welcome, appearance during the mid-credits sting in Far From Home may have been a shock almost as seismic as the Vulture reveal in Homecoming, but the news that Simmons will be continuing to hang around the MCU in order to unleash his flawless, trademark bluster is news most definitely worth printing.
Spider-Man: No Way Home is released in the UK on the 15th of December and the 17th in the US