Who is the best Spider-Man villain? The Marvel Cinematic Universe multiverse exploded during WandaVision and Loki, and was broken nearly beyond repair in Spider-Man: No Way Home, a film five years in the making and one that changed comic book movies and the MCU forever.
As you know by now, No Way Home brought some familiar faces into the world of the MCU (and we don’t mean the old Spider-Men). Bad Guys from across the vast infinite multiverse found themselves trapped on Earth-616 and poor Peter had to deal with them before reality collapsed in on itself.
So we thought it would be good fun to rank the best Spider-Man villains from all of the Spider-Man movies. It’s a big task – Spidey’s fought everything from black alien goo to a silly rhino-themed tank, and even a sentient pile of sand – so we’re sorry if your favourite Marvel villain didn’t make the cut (maybe you’ll have more luck without ranking of the Spider-Man actors?). A few were just too naff to include, though; we’re looking at you, Morbius.
Who are the best Spider-Man villains?
- Green Goblin
- Doctor Octopus
Electro (Max Dillon) – The Amazing Spider-Man 2
We have to be honest. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is not good. Trying to run before it can walk, its best-laid plans toppled very quickly despite the stirring turns of Garfield and Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey. Too many cooks definitely spoiled superhero broth with Jamie Foxx’s blue-infused Electro, one of its victims.
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It starts out pretty well, with Max saved by Spider-Man and declaring them friends in his head, but everything that follows is so horrifically predictable that even the talent and charisma of Foxx struggles.
There’s some cool imagery, sure, but on the whole, it’s all a bit of a mess. That’s why seeing the character return – still mad at the world – with his “classic” look for No Way Home has fans salivating. Perhaps more so for Foxx than anyone else, as he definitely deserved a second bite at the cherry.
The Lizard (Dr Curt Connors) – The Amazing Spider-Man
Teased through Sam Raimi’s trilogy through frequent encounters/science lessons with Tobey Maguire’s inquisitive Peter Parker, we didn’t get to see Curt Connors – played by Dylan Baker then – until the lightning-quick reboot that followed just five years after Spider-Man 3.
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Here, Connors is brought to life by the charming Rhys Ifans who has been working with Peter’s (Andrew Garfield) father Richard on a serum to help regenerate human tissue and limbs, which is finally realised thanks to Peter’s smarts but with some reptilian side effects.
Ever the noble scientist, Connors is very much a gentleman when he and Peter first meet but consumed by guilt and shame due to losing his arm, his obsessions get the better of him until he finds redemption and peace after his plan to “cure the world” is foiled.
Sandman (Flint Marko) – Spider-Man 3
“I’m not a bad person. I’ve just had bad luck” states Flint Marko at the end of Spider-Man 3 after his past has caught up with him – not least the accidental shooting of Tobey Maguire’s Uncle Ben years earlier. Parker, consumed by hate and anger after his run-in with a certain symbiote, forgives Marko as he floats away into the night, knowing all too well how fine the line is between good and bad in its simplest form.
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Marko is perhaps the most underrated on this list in terms of both his persona, visual scope, and Thomas Haden Church’s heartbreaking portrayal of a father trying desperately to provide for his daughter. He, like much of film, falls foul to studio mandates and the shoehorning of Venom into the film. If anyone has unfinished business going into No Way Home – good or bad – it’s Marko.
Mysterio (Quentin Beck) – Spider-Man: Far From Home
The newest of the entries on our list is one that shocked and surprised fans in more ways than one back in 2018, not least thanks to Jake Gyllenhaal’s brilliant portrayal. You couldn’t move for gasps when the reactions to the finale of Spider-Man: Far From Home played out, with fans knowing that Peter Parker’s life had changed forever with seemingly only one way out.
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With his backstory changed to reflect his place in the MCU, Beck joins many others in the “disgruntled employee revenge” playbook after Tony Stark took credit for the technology that Mysterio would later use to trick the world.
While Beck is less sympathetic than some of the others on this list, anyone that’s ever worked their fingers to the bone only for ‘the man’ to take credit for it knows the fury that evokes. Will the mystery continue in No Way Home? He is a founding member of The Sinister Six, after all…
Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) – Spider-Man
The reaction to seeing the return of the Green Goblin showed the level of love for the character who, for all intents and purposes, is a bad guy. However, such is the brilliance of David Koepp’s 2002 screenplay, Sam Raimi’s direction, and his own affection for the characters that Willem Dafoe’s barmy yet committed portrayal, became a villain who audiences had some sympathy for.
It’s even stranger given in the comics, he is much crueller than depicted on-screen. I mean, he flat-out murders Gwen Stacey in one storyline.
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But in Raimi’s movie, the audience is made to feel compassion for Norman, a man who sacrificed so much for his business only to have it snatched away from him. It’s then – when he allows his rage and anger consume him – that he’s elevated him into super-villain territory who still, despite his demise by his own glider, still has some unfinished business with Spidey.
Vulture (Adrian Toomes) – Spider-Man: Homecoming
Has there been a better rug-pulling-from-under-us moment in comic book film history than the one during the second act of Homecoming, Tom Holland’s first full outing as Spidey? He and his date’s dad (Michael Keaton) share banter until the discussion heats up and the metaphorical penny drops for both of them.
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No spoilers here, but suffice it to say, even more so than the similarly-plotted finale of Spider-Man, audiences were left speechless. Like Osborn and Beck, Toomes is run out of his company by Tony Stark, turning from hard-working to disgruntled and vengeful. He’s consumed by his new persona as the Vulture, but in Keaton’s reliable hands, he never loses the audience’s sympathy despite crossing over to the dark side.
Doc Ock (Dr Otto Octavius) – Spider-Man 2
Yep, it’s dawned on us, too, that his name is kind of hilarious, but that’s beside the point: Doctor Octopus, in the Spider-Man cinematic realm, is easily the best, most complex, and thrilling villain in the franchise thus far and Tom Holland has his hands full with him alone.
A cautionary tale of the pursuit of perfection, Octavius is the noblest of men when Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker meets him as he makes the final preparations for his Trinium-powered sustainable energy experiment that will change the world.
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Sadly, science and tragedy work against him, and he and his mechanical “helpers” become fused together, grief overtakes his emotions, and he descends into madness. Beautifully portrayed by Alfred Molina in perhaps the best villain turn of its ilk, it’s a truly heartbreaking performance in a truly wonderful film.