DEADLY FOES OF SPIDER-MAN1 of 12
With new villain Cadaverous making his deadly debut in this week's Spider-Man #1, we're looking back on the worst villains ever to threaten the Friendly Neighborhood Wallcrawler.
These ten villains represent the biggest, boldest threats in Spidey's history - the ten greatest Spider-Man villains of all time. Could Cadaverous someday make this list? We'll see.
JACKAL2 of 12
Miles Warren was responsible for the Clone Saga.
We could probably end the entry for Warren - better known as the Jackal - right there, and most people would be OK with that. Yet Warren took things a step further than cloning Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy a few (dozen) times. A few years ago, his machinations expanded, and he used his scientific acumen to gift millions with Spider-powers in the "Spider-Island" storyline.
Warren is the best kind of Spider-Man villain, and a type you'll see several more times on this list; as much as he can match Spidey punch for punch, the real match-up comes brain to brain. His brilliance, and his willingness to use it for evil means, is his real weapon. And hey, he did give us both Scarlet Spiders, so he's not all bad, right?
Warren - or at least a few dozen clones of him - played a central role in The Clone Conspiracy, which took Warren's cloning research to terrifying new extremes under the control of Ben Reilly - his own former clone creation - temporarily resurrecting almost everyone Spider-Man ever knew who died.
HOBGOBLIN3 of 12
To the uninitiated, Hobgoblin might appear to be simply a Green Goblin ripoff. Those people are very wrong. (In fact, in the continuity of the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon, Hobgoblin actually came first, but that's a whole other thing.)
There have been three major (and several minor) Hobgoblins in Spidey history - Roderick Kingsley, Jason Macendale and Phil Urich - and each one has been a formidable threat. Kingsley was the original, and his mysterious early appearances in the '80s are some of the most celebrated Spidey stories of that era.
Jason Macendale took the whole supernatural "goblin" motif to a new level, and was actually possessed for a time by a demon entity which eventually came to calling itself "Demogoblin."
The most recent new Hobgoblin, Phil Urich, was once the heroic Green Goblin but later essentially became a twisted version of Peter Parker - moonlighting as an assassin while helping out his uncle Ben at The Daily Bugle, and manipulating his way into the heart of the unknowing Norah Winters.
Urich later became the "Goblin Knight," after crossing paths with Roderick Kingsley, the original - and current - Hobgoblin.
All three Hobgoblins have been major threats to Spider-Man, and a relatively rare example of updating an existing concept and having lasting success.
SANDMAN4 of 12
Flint Marko has been one of the many on-again, off-again villains in the Spider-Man rogues gallery. Premiering in just the fourth issue of Amazing Spider-Man, this shape-shifting character literally made of sand has had some variations over the years, with power levels ranging from just-above-street-thug to city-level-threat.
Despite a couple of hero turns (Marko was even a reserve member of the Avengers!), his re-invigoration in the "Gauntlet" storyline a few years back showed a Sandman at his most powerful. Unleashed, he created his own sand castle (as in a liveable, full-size castle made of his unique living sand) and had the ability to control massive amounts of the grains, proving to be one of the strongest foes Spidey has faced.
Sandman also appeared in the film Spider-Man 3, implicated as being involved in the death of Ben Parker. And that's all we'll say about that...
CHAMELEON5 of 12
Dmitri Smerdyakov is actually the first supervillain ever faced by Spider-Man, first appearing in Amazing Spider-Man #1. That alone would give him a permanent place in comic book history, but it's his various misdeeds over the past 50 years that earned him his spot on this list.
In the '90s, Chameleon helped mastermind a plot that nearly broke Spider-Man's psyche - the return of Peter Parker's parents, long presumed dead. In reality, the "parents" were actually robots, the kind of thing that happens in comic books more than you might guess. That revelation led to one of the darkest periods in Spider-Man's history, and the guy hasn't let up he impersonated Peter Parker a few years back.
Chameleon is also a go-to character when writers want to truly explore the psychological aspects of Spider-Man's world, as seen in the work of J.M. DeMatteis and Paul Jenkins - the latter who actually had Chameleon proclaim his love for Spider-Man. (It was awkward for all involved.)
And more than any of that, there's still lots of dramatic mileage in the fake-out opportunities provided by a character who can impersonate nearly anyone, which, when employed correctly, still manages to be surprising after all of these years as seen in his impersonation of former vice president Al Gore during "Ends of the Earth."
KINGPIN6 of 12
Modern fans may be saying "Kingpin? But he's a Daredevil villain!" And you wouldn't be wrong. Wilson Fisk, the crime Kingpin of New York has certainly been a thorn in Daredevil's side more often than not. But before he tangled with the horn head, he was one of the web head's biggest (heh) foes.
He started out in Amazing Spider-Man #50, having taken control of the crime networks in New York when Spider-Man was "no more." Ironically, his stepping into power (and kidnapping J. Jonah Jameson) was the impetus for Peter to web-up once again. While much of his focus has been on other characters like the aforementioned blind lawyer from Hell's Kitchen since then, Kingpin has continued to play a large (ahem) role in Amazing Spider-Man again in recent years, all the way to a recent solo series.
MYSTERIO7 of 12
There are three men that have worn the fishbowl helmet and used special effects to terrorize Spider-Man and his friends and allies, but the others are nothing without Quentin Beck, the original. Mysterio is a mainstay on most incarnations of the Sinister Six, the frequent assemblage of Spidey's villains.
Armed only with advanced special effects knowledge, limited creativity, loads of insanity and a flair for the dramatic, it may not sound like Mysterio is much for Spidey to handle. Regardless, he's given the webslinger plenty of problems, and has even seemingly come back from the dead. Mysterio is still waiting for his defining moment, his big win, but despite some shortcomings, this SFX maven should never be counted out or underestimated.
He finally got his shot at the big screen in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
KRAVEN THE HUNTER8 of 12
Kraven the Hunter might not be on this list - and definitely wouldn't be this high - without one story: 1987's "Kraven's Last Hunt."
The six-part storyline, written by J.M. DeMatteis and illustrated by Mike Zeck, is one of the all-time Spider-Man classics, a psychological thriller that showed something that virtually never happens in superhero comics - the bad guy winning. Kraven, a long-time enemy and member of the original Sinister Six, shoots Spider-Man with a dart that leaves him comatose for two weeks, buries him, and then puts on a copy of Spidey's costume and goes around New York City fighting crime - in his mind, proving not only that can he defeat Spider-Man, but that he can beat him at his own game.
The real surprise came with what happened next. Feeling like he accomplished his goal, Kraven committed suicide. Several people subsequently tried to fill his role - mainly Kraven's children Vladimir and Alyosha - but it's a death that lasted up until very recently, when Kraven was resurrected in 2010 storyline "Grim Hunt." Now that Kraven is back in the Spider-Man rotation, a new generation of fans are able to see what makes him cool, and "Kraven's Last Hunt" still stands as one of the greatest Spider-Man stories of all time.
In fact, it's one of the inspirations for a planned Kraven solo movie.
VENOM9 of 12
Venom is the newest character on this list, debuting in 1988. He's also ranked among the highest. This isn't a coincidence - few characters had as great and as quick of an impact on Spider-Man and comic books in general as Venom.
Pairing Eddie Brock, a disgruntled ex-journalist, and Spider-Man's jilted alien costume that he acquired in Secret Wars, Venom is perhaps the most successful iteration of "evil version of the hero" in all of comic books. Thanks in no small part to unique renderings by co-creator Todd McFarlane, Venom became so popular that he starred in his own book within a few years, a stretch of limited series that ran from 1993 to 1998. Venom's also appeared in several animated series, multiple action figures and the film Spider-Man 3, where he was portrayed by Topher Grace.
In those books, Brock took the role of a "lethal protector" antihero, but returned to his villainous ways in the 2000s when desperate and dying of cancer caused by the symbiote.
Venom got his own solo movie starring Tom Hardy in the title role in 2018. He's also one of the lead characters in the current Marvel blockbuster crossover Absolute Carnage.
GREEN GOBLIN10 of 12
Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin, is without a doubt one of Spider-Man's greatest villains – maybe his greatest, but for the unspeakable acts of one other villain.
There's no denying that Norman is a genius, like Doc Ock or Jackal. Norman is violent and vicious, like Venom, and Hobgoblin, and insane (and delusional) like Mysterio. Norman is a leader capable of inspiring and gathering forces of powerful people, like Kingpin. His obsession matches Kraven's, his cunning surpasses Chameleon, and as for power, Norman has more than Sandman could ever hope to grasp.
There's also that one little detail: Norman Osborn killed Gwen Stacy, the love of Peter Parker's life. In a defining moment, the man who took up the responsibility of the power he held due to loss of a loved one lost another, and it almost broke him.
The Green Goblin has been immortalized in animation, games, and film. In the Ultimate universe, he's directly responsible for Peter Parker (and now even Miles Morales) getting the proportional strength of a spider.
And over in the regular Marvel Universe, Norman Osborn has shown himself to be the real villain, far and above anything Green Goblin could ever achieve. Osborn manipulated the media, heroes, and the government itself to allow him control over virtually every superpowered American for a time, and with his new team of Dark Avengers (and alliances with Hydra, A.I.M., and more), threatens to be the greatest villain in the world. While he may now be an Avengers and world-level threat, whenever it comes time to take down Norman Osborn, you can bet Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, will be the one to throw the knockout punch.
Osborn later bonded with the Carnage symbiote to become the Red Goblin before being defeated once again.
DOCTOR OCTOPUS11 of 12
Doctor Octopus – a.k.a. Otto Octavius – might have remained in second place on this list but for one simple fact – he actually succeeded where every other Spider-Man villain failed, and killed Peter Parker.
What’s more, he actually stole Parker’s body, swapping minds with him and taking his place as the “Superior” Spider-Man. Octavius ran wild in Parker’s body as much more egomaniacal and violent Spider-Man until Parker’s brainwaves – dormant in some of Otto’s technology – came back and took his body back from Doc Ock.
Ock recently returned as part of The Clone Conspiracy - in his original form. He later joined Hydra as the Superior Octopus - but none of that tops actually taking over Peter Parker's body.
Otto's actually back in action as the heroic Superior Spider-Man in a new solo series.
1 of 12
2 of 12
3 of 12
4 of 12
5 of 12
6 of 12
7 of 12
8 of 12
9 of 12
10 of 12
11 of 12
12 of 12