One of the most iconic superheroes in the Marvel Comics. It’s no secret that Spider-Man is almost every comic-book lover/cinephile’s favorite superhero. And when the first live-action Spider-Man film finally hit theaters in 2002, ever since every Spider-Man movie has managed to create a lot of buzz and excitement among all movie-goers. Over the years, we’ve seen some iconic moments in the Spider-Man movies like Uncle Ben giving Peter Parker his most important advice, “With great power, comes great responsibility” which has ever since become an iconic quote in cinematic history.
The story arc of Spider-Man includes him not only just fighting super villains but also how the character Peter Parker progresses throughout the movies like, overcoming the grief having lost his Uncle in a tragic incident, maintaining friendships and relationships, trying to balance his role as a young superhero with also navigating the daily aspects of life going to college, trying to support his Aunt May etc. It’s all these little things that contribute to his characterization so well as a result of which all of us can relate to this character as we see ourselves in Spider-Man as he strives to do for the better good for the public so as to earn the title of “Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man”.
Since the Spider-Man movies are so popular, another factor that determines the quality of a good superhero movie is the villain. A superhero villain has to be someone who not only is powerful but should be a good compelling villain. A superhero film should be able to explain to the audience the intentions of what drove the character into becoming a supervillain.
For judging this, all such factors like appeal, acting and character development will be used to judge a villain in a superhero movie . For more than fifteen years, we have witnessed about six Spider-M-an films: Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007), Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man series (2012-2014) and just recently, MCU’s ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ (2017) and we’re going to gather all the movie villains portrayed in those six movies. Mind you, we’re going to talk about only supervillains here so characters like The Burglar who murdered Uncle Ben in ‘Spider-Man’ (2002) or the Shocker and the Tinkerer from Spider-Man: Homecoming are not going to be considered as either they’re not really super villains or that they just didn’t have enough screen time to make a good impression. Anyway, here is the list of all Spider-Man villains ranked from worst to best. Who’s your favorite among these Spiderman enemies?
10. Aleksei Sytsevich/ The Rhino (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Yup, this probably has to be one of the worst Spider-Man villains we’ve ever seen on the big screen. Considering the fact this character only had a screen-time of barely fifteen minutes (which included also his cameo appearance at the end) and that this film already had two super villains embedded in its plot, just ask yourself: Was this character even needed in the first place? Paul Giamatti is a terrific actor and we were all very intrigued to see what he brings to the character of Rhino but all he’s made to is play one angry Russian who half the time makes annoying and cringe-worthy sounds like “aaarghh and khrrrrrr!!”. This is a clear indicator of really poor screenwriting. What makes it even so depressing is that he’s the last villain who Garfield’s Spider-Man had to face. Sigh.
9. Eddie Brock/ Venom (Spider-Man 3)
Anyone who has read the Spider-Man comics will agree that Venom is easily one of one Spider-Man’s best arch nemesis. A super villain with so many cool abilities like he’s lightning quick, fast, agile, capable of camouflaging, cannot be detected by Spidey-senses etc. Venom is such a memorable villain in the comics but in Spider-Man 3 (2007), he’s made to look so silly and cartoonish. One can clearly see why Topher Grace’s role as Venom was truly a miscast. With the film already crammed with two other villains, his character of Eddie Brock brings almost nothing to the story as he’s fueled by his desire to take revenge against Parker as he played a role in having the photographer Brock fired from the The Daily Bugle, for something which was not even Peter Parker’s fault. Well anyways, let’s see how director Ruben Fleischer and Tom Hardy fare in the upcoming stand-alone Venom movie.
8. Max Dillon/ Electro (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Appointing Jamie Foxx as Electro, another classic Spider-Man villain was an interesting move done by Sony. Here, we get to see Foxx play Max Dillon, a socially awkward Oscorp electrical engineer who absolutely idolizes Spider-Man but unfortunately gets into a freakish accident at Oscorp, which in turn transforms him into a powerful, electrical creature who’s capable of controlling electricity and producing lightening bolts at very high voltage. All because of one simple misunderstanding, he makes Spider-Man his foe after he felt that Spider-Man had betrayed him. Now if there’s one thing Sony did right was to make him look cool so from a visual effects stand-point, he looks amazing and they certainly made him look very powerful. But as the film progresses, Foxx’s acting wears Electro down as the audience isn’t just able to understand his intentions and sympathize with him. Simply putting it, Electro wasn’t just the right villain to challenge Spider-Man, at least in this movie.
7. Green Goblin (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)
Dane DeHaan plays Harry Osborne – Peter Parker’s good friend who’s being reintroduced in this movie, loses his father Norman Osborne to a genetic disease and fears that his genes will kill him too. Desperate for a cure, he turns to Parker for help so as ask Spider-Man for his blood who he believes will cure his disease. We’re made to see Harry goes to desperate lengths to cure himself and ultimately injects himself with a special serum of Spider-Venom which turns him into a psychotic Green Goblin and tries to exact revenge on Spider-Man for not honoring his request by kidnapping Parker’s love interest Gwen Stacy. For the most part, DeHaan does well to get the viewers to sympathize with his life-threatening illness and how he’s betrayed by OsCorp. Despite being a talented actor, DeHaan is given a weak script with way too many villains crammed in this movie. Dehaan’s Green Goblin wasn’t good enough and is nowhere close to Defoe’s Green Goblin in the first Spider-Man film.
6. Flint Marko/Sandman (Spider-Man 3)
Here, Thomas Haden Church plays Flint Marko, a small-time thug who’s forced to indulge in robbery so as to pay for his sick’s daughter’s treatment. Unfortunately, he gets into a freakish accident that alters him into a master sand manipulator. In all honesty, Thomas Haden Church did all right to portray the Sandman but the writers made a mess of his character when they decided to incorporate a sub-plot in which Spider-Man is made to believe that it was not the burglar but the Sandman who killed his Uncle Ben, which later was revealed to be not true. From a technical standpoint, they did a good job with the Sandman as far as visual effects are concerned. In all honesty, Sandman was still a better villain compared to the Venom in that same film.
5. Harry Osborn/New Goblin (Spider-Man 3)
In all honesty, Spider-Man 3 was an absolute mess and that was mainly due to Raimi’s idea to put two new villains in this third film, which honestly wasn’t even needed. After watching the first two movies, we all knew that there was going to be a Spider-Man vs Harry Osborn show down in the third film and maybe Raimi should’ve just stuck to that. We all knew that Harry finds out that Peter Parker killed his father Norman Osborn, and was going to hunt Spider-Man down. Seeing two best friends battling each other, with one torn by grief over believing that his father’s killer was his best friend, this would have definitely made a classic thrilling finale. James Franco did all right, projecting his hatred towards Parker for his betrayal but again was under utilized due to Raimi’s decision to give more screen time to the other new villains.
4. Dr Curt Connors/The Lizard (The Amazing Spider-Man)
In this rebooted Spider-Man movie, Rhys Ifans plays Dr Curt Connors who is a top scientist at OsCorp industries and becomes almost a mentor/father figure to Peter Parker as his colleague used to be Dr Richard Parker, Peter’s father. We see how Connors is trying to explore the field of cross-species genetics and also at the same time, tries to search a cure for his for his limb. Soon, his experiments go wrong when he evolves into a giant green Lizard and plans to release his formula as a chemical gas, so as to other human beings into giant green lizards. The problem with his character is that we’ve already seen a similar character like him before- Defoe’s Green Goblin who also suffers a similar fate. Now while the Spider-Man vs the Lizard sequences are fun to watch, his design is all too similar and quite laughable and his motivations post-transformation makes no sense at all. Still, Ifans makes it up for his good acting, that is before his character turns into the Lizard. Too bad the filmmakers decided to cut a few really good deleted scenes which features Ifans and which would have certainly contributed a lot to his character development.
3. Green Goblin/Norman Osborn (Spider-Man)
Ah yes, the very first Spidey movie villain. Here, we find Normon Osborn is driven to the edge of insanity after he’s kicked out of his own company and suspects everyone around him is plotting against him. We see how he gets manipulated by the Green Goblin suit to pursue evil deeds which also includes deliberately harming Parker’s Aunt May. Sure, the Green Goblin Costume looks a little silly, but William Defoe makes it up for his impeccable acting skills and thereby playing a true antagonist. Just watch for his facial expressions and mannerisms and his classic evil grin – some traits that truly make a memorable villain.
2. Otto Octavius/ Dr Octopus
How do you make a great sequel following a its prequel that featured a great villain – Defoe’s Green Goblin? The answer to that is: Dr Octopus. Alfred Molina does a terrific job playing Otto Octavius who plans to create a new, clean and sustainable source of energy and also invents four robotic metal arms to assist him in his experiment. But after his experiment goes horribly wrong killing his wife, and then his robotic arms succeed in controlling him and turn him into a villain who’ll stop at nothing to re-do his experiment, thereby risking blowing up half of New York in the process. Unlike other Spidey villains, Dr Octopus possess a distinct vulnerability which makes his character so uniquely distinct. Also, he promises to be a very intimidating figure for Spider-Man to deal with – especially in that train sequence which has since been voted by comic book fans as the best comic-book action sequence in a superhero film. Ultimately, Peter Parker makes him realize his wrong doings and Dr Octopus having realized his mistake, decides to stop his plant from blowing half of the city and thereby sacrifices himself for the greater good. Truly, Dr Octopus is certainly considered as among the top superhero villains in a comic book movie.
1. Adrian Toomes/ Vulture (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
A wise man once said in a famous movie, “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become a villain.” The same can be applied to Michael Keaton. Two decades after Keaton captured the hearts of all DC fans as the first Batman on the big screen, he finally returns to the superhero genre but this time as a villain in the MCU. Keaton plays Adrien Toomes, a man who after feels cheated by the system, convinces his company to keep the salvaged alien technology and uses it to create and sell weapons in the black market. He also creates a Vulture Suit which he uses it to fly and steal weapons illegally. What makes his character arc so great is that he solely believes he’s doing nothing wrong and that he doesn’t care of the repercussions of his activities so long as his family is protected and well taken care of.
The viewers sympathize with him being deprived of keeping the alien technology at the beginning of the film so his character motivations are well explained. But what the viewers didn’t anticipate that Peter’s prom date happens to be Adrien Toomes, the man he’s trying to pursue and stop him from wreaking havoc. That plot twist was completely unexpected and his best scene happens to be in that car sequence when he slowly explains to Peter that he will do anything to keep his family safe and won’t hesitate to killing Parker for meddling in his affairs. In the comics, the Vulture isn’t such a great villain but Keaton makes up for that by playing such a menacing character thereby solving the Spider-Man movies’ biggest issues: making a good compelling villain. Which is why, The Vulture tops this list.
Read More: All Spider-Man Movies, Ranked