Spider-Man villains ranked from worst to best

The best Spider-Man villains - Peter Parker has battled many dangerous foes from Doc Ock to The Vulture but we think these baddies are the greatest.

Spider-Man villains: Green goblin

Who are the best Spider-Man villains? 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 Marvel Cinematic Universe (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 with our ranking of the Spider-Man actors?).

Spider-Man villains ranked:

  • The Elementals
  • The Rhino
  • The Green Goblin (Amazing Spider-Man 2)
  • Venom
  • The New Goblin
  • Electro
  • Sandman
  • Lizard
  • Shocker
  • Mysterio
  • Green Goblin
  • Vulture
  • Doctor Octopus

Spider-Man villains: The Elementals

The Elementals – No Way Home

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 me, to be honest.

YouTube Thumbnail

The Rhino – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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.

Best Spider-Man villains: Green Goblin

The Green Goblin (Harry Osborn) – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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.

Spider-Man villains: Venom

Venom (Eddie Brock) – Spider-Man 3

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 Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movies who turns up at the end, roars a bit 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.

The best Spider-Man villains: New Goblin

The New Goblin (Harry Osborn) – Spider-Man 3

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.

Best Spider-Man villains: Electro

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.

Worlds finest: MCU movies ranked

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.

Best Spider-Man villains: Sandman

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.

Where to start? Marvel movies in order

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 the film, falls foul of 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.

Best Spider-Man villains: Lizard

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.

Why be a human at all? Best monster movies

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.

Best Spider-Man villains: The Shocker

Shocker (Herman Schultz) – Spider-Man: Homecoming

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.

Best Spider-Man villains: Mysterio

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.

Master of illusions: Best fantasy movies

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…

Best Spider-Man villains: Green Goblin

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.

Raimi’s team! Where is the Spider-Man cast now? 

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 into super-villain territory who still, despite his demise by his own glider, still has some unfinished business with Spidey.

Best Spider-Man villains: Vulture

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.

World’s changing boys! Best science fiction movies

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.

Best Spider-Man villains: Doctor Octopus

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 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.

Genre defining: Best superhero movies

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 Marvel’s Phase 5, then check out our guide to Spider-Man 4, or if you want to know more about his origins, we have a guide on Spider-Man: Freshman Year. We also have guides on the upcoming Kraven movie and Madame Web movie.

If that’s not enough, we also got a guide about all the new movies coming in 2023, including Dune 2, Mission Impossible 7, and The Marvels. Finally, we have a list of the best movies ever made written by the whole team.