Who are the best Spider-Man villains? There’s an old adage that a hero is only ever as good as the villains he fights, and if that’s true, then Spider-Man may be the greatest hero ever to walk the Earth. (Although Batman gives him a run for his money.)
Yes, the amazing Spider-Man has gone up against some of the biggest and best movie villains over the years, but we were wondering, ‘Who’s the greatest of Spidey’s bad guys?’ Well, to answer this, we’ve watched all the Spider-Man movies in order, then followed that up with all the Marvel movies in order (It’s a hard job watching some of the best superhero movies ever, although Spider-Man 3 wasn’t great) to bring you a definitive list of Spider-Man villains.
For the record, we’ve only included the Marvel villains who suited up, so if you’re wondering why Felicity Jones’s Felicia Hardy or B.J. Novak’s Alistair Smythe isn’t on the list, it’s because we only saw them in their civilian identity, not as Back Cat or the Spider-Slayer.
Spider-Man villains ranked:
- The Elementals
- The Rhino
- The Green Goblin (Amazing Spider-Man 2)
- The New Goblin
- Green Goblin
- Doctor Octopus
14. The Elementals — Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
The only Spider-Man villains worse than The Rhino are the Elementals, and that’s because they weren’t real; they were just Mysterio’s projections, and they never really made that much sense, to be honest.
We think Mysterio could have made them a little bit more convincing or at least fun to look at. Instead, they appear as sludgy CGI and not much is done with them to make them cool while we wait for the real drama.
13. The Rhino — The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
The Rhino is such a pathetic and forgettable Spider-Man villain that we’re not even going to do him the courtesy of finishing this entry. Do better, Paul Giamatti.
12. The Green Goblin (Harry Osborn) — The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
It’s an ignominious opening to this list for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 villains, but let’s be honest, they’re just not as well developed as the other baddies the Wallcrawler faces off against. A lot of this isn’t really their fault. It’s because Sony was so desperate to set up a cinematic universe that director Marc Webb didn’t have the time to set up his villains.
Poor Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan) probably suffers the worst of this, with the exception of The Rhino, and it’s a shame because DeHaan’s a good actor — if you’ve seen him in Chronicle, you’ll already know that — who definitely could have brought a little damaged magic to Pete’s best friend. Instead, he’s mostly forgotten about and then ends up looking a little like he’s not had a bath in 2 months. A real stinker.
11. Venom (Eddie Brock) — Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Jesus wept. An entire book could be written about what’s wrong with Topher Grace’s Venom. He’s basically an afterthought in the worst of the Maguire Spider-Man movies who turns up at the end, roars a bit, and then dies.
It was such a waste of such a great and menacing Marvel villain. Here’s hoping we finally get a decent version of the character when he inevitably appears in Phase 5 or 6, and for now, we’ll make do with whatever Sony is cooking up with Venom 3.
10. The New Goblin (Harry Osborn) — Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Do you know what’s never a good sign? When the writer of your movie can’t keep you relevant as a villain, so gives you amnesia for the majority of the film. Such is the fate of the New Goblin, aka Harry Osborn, in Spider-Man 3. The New Goblin is a dull and forgettable villain who looks more like a mall cop with a snowboard glued to his feet than a comic book bad guy.
We could probably move past his dopey costume if the character had been given the story he deserved, but that didn’t happen. Spider-Man 3 is overstuffed with villains, and as a result, Harry’s story gets squeezed out, leaving him an afterthought in the film that should have resolved his story.
9. Electro (Max Dillon) — The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
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 this superhero broth. Jamie Foxx‘s blue-infused Electro was one of its victims.
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 struggle.
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 had fans salivating. He definitely deserved a second bite at the cherry.
8. Sandman (Flint Marko) — Spider-Man 3 (2007)
“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.
Marko is perhaps the most underrated on this list in terms of 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 the film, falls foul of studio mandates and the shoehorning of Venom into the film.
7. The Lizard (Dr Curt Connors) — The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
Teased through Sam Raimi‘s trilogy through frequent encounters/science lessons with 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.
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 realized 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.
6. Shocker (Herman Schultz) — Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Now, you may be reading this and thinking, ‘Wait, Shocker’s not in Spider-Man Homecoming, is he?’ Well, the answer, dear reader, is yes, yes, he is. Shocker only has a small role in the film, but as someone who’s always had a fondness for Spidey’s more street-level villains, I’ve always liked the quilt-covered bad guy, and I was delighted to see him in Homecoming.
5. Kingpin (Liev Schreiber) — Into the Spider-Verse (2018)
The Kingpin’s been a thorn in Spidey’s side since the late ’60s, so seeing him turn up to menace Miles Morales in Into the Spider-Verse was a real treat. A hulking brute with a surprisingly sharp intellect, this version of The Kingpin was capable of easily going toe-to-toe with the inexperienced Miles and who pushed our hero to his limits.
Like most interpretations of Wilson Fisk, though, you kind of felt for the guy. Sure, he’s a ruthless crimelord working with a mad scientist on an experiment that’s put the entire multiverse at risk, but he was doing it because he loved his family, so he’s not all bad. He’s just selfish.
4. Mysterio (Quentin Beck) — Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
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.
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…
3. Green Goblin (Norman Osborn) — Spider-Man (2002)
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 crueler than depicted on-screen. I mean, he flat-out murders Gwen Stacey in one storyline.
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 to consume him — that he’s elevated into super-villain territory. He was also one of the better elements of No Way Home.
2. 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.
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. His new persona consumes him as the Vulture, but in Keaton’s reliable hands, he never loses the audience’s sympathy despite crossing over to the dark side.
1. 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 (and possibly one of the best movie villains ever), 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 Maguire’s Peter Parker meets him as he makes the final preparations for his Trinium-powered sustainable energy experiment that will change the world.
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.
If you love the Wallcrawler and want to know more about his place in any upcoming Marvel movies and Marvel’s Phase 5, then check out our guide, which reveals everything you need to know about the Spider-Man 4 release date. Or, if you want to know more about his origins, we have a guide on Spider-Man: Freshman Year, and we’ve also broken down the Beyond the Spider-Verse release date for you as well.
If that’s not enough, we also got a guide about all the new movies coming soon, including the Venom 3 release date and the Kraven the Hunter release date. Finally, we have a list of the best movies ever made written by the whole team.