Spider-Man’s live-action films have featured a variety of villains, with some being disappointing and others becoming iconic.
Characters, like Rhino, Electro, and New Goblin, fell flat in their respective films, lacking impact and adequate development.
Some villains, like Doc Ock and Dafoe’s Green Goblin, are now the definitive version of those characters for many.

Over the course of ten Spider-Man feature films, four different versions of Marvel Comics’ Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man, have battled a huge number of iconic villains, though some have been more formidable than others. After a live-action project centered on the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man had lived in development hell since the 1970s, Sony Pictures finally acquired the film rights in 1999 and immediately set plans in motion to bring the wall-crawler to the big screen. Long before Spider-Man joined Marvel Studios’ MCU, Sony produced two separate franchises featuring Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in the lead role, though Tom Holland would portray the superhero in the MCU.

Sam Raimi led production on 2002’s Spider-Man, 2004’s Spider-Man 2, and 2007’s Spider-Man 3, with Marc Webb taking over for 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man and its 2014 sequel. After a deal between Sony and Marvel Studios went into effect, Spider-Man was introduced to the MCU in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. While Sony has developed the Sony Spider-Man Universe focusing on Spider-Man villains, Tom Holland is still the only current live-action Peter Parker, though Miles Morales has adopted the moniker in two animated Spider-Verse projects so far. Every Spider-Man feature film has pitted the web-slinger against a slew of powerful villains, though some are considered much better than others.

22 Aleksei Sytsevich, A.K.A. Rhino – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Played by Paul Giamatti

No superpowers
A goofy performance that’s best consigned to history

By far the most disappointing Spider-Man villain seen in live-action is Paul Giamatti’s Aleksei Sytsevich, a.k.a. Rhino, who appeared as a minor antagonist in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 opposite Garfield’s Peter Parker. Sytsevich is a killer for the Russian Mafia in New York who receives a bulky mechanized suit of armor after allying with Harry Osborn following his apprehension by Spider-Man. Sytsevich has no superhuman abilities aside from his armor, and his very brief appearance as Rhino in the final moments of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 fell completely flat. Luckily, the villain will be reinvented in the SSU’s upcoming Kraven the Hunter, portrayed by Alessandro Nivola.

21 Harry Osborn, A.K.A. Green Goblin – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)

Played by Dane DeHaan

Twisted by personal trauma and poisoned by experimental serum
Failed to live up to other Green Goblins

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also featured the debut of Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn, Peter Parker’s childhood best friend who returns home to be with his dying father. Osborn reconnects with Parker in the hopes that Spider-Man’s blood could cure the genetic condition, but after injecting a serum of spider venom into his system, Osborn transforms into The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s Green Goblin. While DeHaan probably could have delivered a strong performance as the Green Goblin had he been the film’s only villain, the oversaturation of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 meant he lost any impact and had big shoes to fill following Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin performance in 2002’s Spider-Man.

20 Eddie Brock, A.K.A. Venom – Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Played by Topher Grace

An incredibly cool villain design
Threat spoiled by too many villains in one movie

Similarly to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, 2007’s Spider-Man 3 simply had too many subplots for any of the film’s villains to truly land any punches. Long before Tom Hardy became Eddie Brock in the SSU, Topher Grace portrayed the journalist in Spider-Man 3 and bonded with the Venom symbiote after Maguire’s Peter Parker removes it from himself. Elements of Spider-Man 3’s Eddie Brock were interesting, including how he became a perfect dark mirror of Peter Parker, but overall the villain was simply shoehorned into the film and wasn’t done justice as a consequence.

19 Jackson Brice, A.K.A. Shocker – Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Played by Logan Marshall-Green

Short-lived but a logical addition to Spider-Man’s street level rogues gallery
Little more than a henchman

Tom Holland’s first solo adventure as the MCU’s Peter Parker in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming saw him go up a few minor villains, including Logan Marshall-Green’s Jackson Brice, a.k.a. Shocker. Brice was one of two Shockers featured in Spider-Man: Homecoming, as he was quickly killed off by Adrian Toomes following an altercation with Spider-Man. Brice had very little impact on the storyline of Spider-Man: Homecoming, other than to see the second Shocker emerge, but at least his use of repurposed version of Brock Rumlow’s Crossbones’ gauntlets from Captain America: Civil War was impressive.

18 Max Dillon, A.K.A. Electro – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) & Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Played by Jamie Foxx

Envious and incredibly powerful
Blue-skinned design made Electro too cartoonish

While Harry Osborn’s Green Goblin was a present threat in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Jamie Foxx’s Max Dillon, a.k.a. Electro, was the film’s primary antagonist. Electrical engineer Dillon became Electro after falling into a tank of genetically modified electric eels, transforming him into a living electrical generator. While Foxx tries to deliver a good performance, Electro’s design in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is off-putting and distracting. Luckily, Foxx reprised the role in the MCU’s Spider-Man: No Way Home, where he returned with a more human appearance, helping at least a little to redeem the villain, though he still didn’t pose much of a threat compared to others.

17 Harry Osborn, A.K.A. New Goblin – Spider-Man 3 (2007)

Played by James Franco

Harry Osborn’s vengeful drive was a real threat to Spider-Man
Let down by inferior costume design

Following in the footsteps of his father, Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn, James Franco’s Harry Osborn became the New Goblin in Spider-Man 3 after ingesting his father’s performance-enhancing gas in an effort to exact revenge on Peter Parker for his father’s death. Unfortunately, in a project stuffed full of villains including Venom and Sandman, Franco’s New Goblin is all but forgotten, particularly after being saddled with an amnesia storyline. Nevertheless, it was impactful to see Harry Osborn’s transformation into a villain with two movies’ worth of backstory to build on, it’s just a shame the execution wasn’t as effective as it could have been.

16 Flint Marko, A.K.A. Sandman – Spider-Man 3 (2007) & Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Played by Thomas Haden Church

Spider-Man 3’s best villain
Questionable CGI undermined his return in the MCU

Thomas Haden Church manages to bring sympathy, heart, and humanity to his performance as Flint Marko, a.k.a. Sandman, in Spider-Man 3. While he is certainly far from the most powerful Spider-Man villain seen in film, Marko is arguably the most effective villain in Spider-Man 3, particularly because of his previous connection to Peter Parker as the inadvertent killer of Uncle Ben in 2002’s Spider-Man. Haden Church returned as Sandman in Spider-Man: No Way Home, but was seemingly given even less to do in the MCU project, overshadowed by more iconic Spider-Man villains such as Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus.

15 Tombstone – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

Played by Marvin “Krondon” Jones III

A cool spin on an underused Spider-Man villain
No major threat, and relegated to mostly playing Kingpin’s bodyguard

Tombstone was introduced in 2018’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Sony’s animated project featuring the rise of Miles Morales as Brooklyn’s Spider-Man on Earth-1610. Voiced by Marvin “Krondon” Jones III, Tombstone is Kingpin’s personal escort, chief lieutenant, and head of security at Fisk Industries. He is a relatively minor inconvenience in Into the Spider-Verse, as other villains pose a much greater threat, even if he does make more appearances than others. Tombstone is easily defeated by Spider-Noir and arrested at the end of Into the Spider-Verse, having not actually said or done much during the animated adventure.

14 Maximus Gargan, A.K.A. Scorpion – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

Played by Joaquin Cosio

Memorable, horrifying design
Limited impact and beaten very easily

Similarly to Tombstone, Maximus Gargan, a.k.a. Scorpion, is another of Kingpin’s henchmen in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and also doesn’t actually have much to do in the 2018 film. Scorpion takes part in the battle against Miles Morales and the Spider-Man variants at Aunt May’s house, and joins in the final battle at the Super-Collider. Instead of showing his merciless strength, however, Scorpion is easily defeated by Spider-Ham, Spider-Noir, and Peni Parker and SP//dr. His appearance is terrifying, however, and it’s great to see Scorpion get some action in a Spider-Man film following the unresolved tease of Mac Gargan in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

13 Norman Osborn, A.K.A. Green Goblin – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

Played by Jorma Taccone

Monstrous kaiju-like redesign of Spider-Man’s iconic nemesis
Too little screen-time for major impact, but did massively weaken Spider-Man

Green Goblin has been adapted into most Spider-Man media outside Marvel Comics, but Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’s interpretation of the legendary villain is something to behold. Instead of undergoing a small transformation after ingesting his performance-enhancing serum, Into the Spider-Verse’s Norman Osborn transformed into a giant, goblin-like creature that wreaked havoc throughout New York City and eventually fell under the employ of Kingpin. Green Goblin is involved in Into the Spider-Verse’s battle against Peter Parker’s Spider-Man, leading to the wall-crawler’s death on Earth-1610, so that proves the villain’s power, though Green Goblin also died during this fight.

12 Adriano Tumino, A.K.A. Vulture – Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (2023)

Played by Jorma Taccone

Stunning visual impact and steam-punk design
Fought off multiple Spider Society members

As well as voicing Green Goblin and Earth-67’s Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Jorma Taccone also voiced Adriano Tumino, a.k.a. the Vulture, in its 2023 sequel, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Coming from a Renaissance-inspired universe, the Vulture found himself in Earth-65 following the events of Into the Spider-Verse, where he battled Gwen Stacy and Jessica Drew’s Spider-Women and Miguel O’Hara’s Spider-Man 2099. The Vulture provided a great opening to Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, enabling the official introduction of Spider-Man 2099 and Spider-Woman, and establishing their connection to Gwen Stacy, but didn’t have much impact on the film.

11 Herman Schultz, A.K.A. Shocker – Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Played by Bokeem Woodbine

Cool use of technology without a cartoonish costume
A henchman, but with a nastier streak

After Jackson Brice was killed in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Herman Schultz was made the second Shocker by Adrian Toomes, and he did a much better job as a villain than his short-lived predecessor. Schultz ambushes Peter Parker and almost takes down the wall-crawler, though is thwarted by the intervention of Jacob Batalon’s Ned Leeds, and is presumably incarcerated along with Toomes and the rest of his crew. Schultz didn’t leave a big mark on Spider-Man in the MCU, but saw more action than Brice as the Shocker, though was still nothing more than a minor hiccup in Spider-Man: Homecoming.

10 Dr. Curt Connors, A.K.A. Lizard – The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) & Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)

Played by Rhys Ifans

A memorable boby horror villain
Genuinely threatening to the fledgling Spider-Man

While The Amazing Spider-Man 2 focused on too many villains, its 2012 predecessor, The Amazing Spider-Man, was much more focused. As well as detailing Peter Parker’s origin story as Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man also introduced Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors, a scientist at Oscorp who assumes the role of Parker’s mentor – a role which is normally assumed by Norman Osborn. Attempting to create a revolutionary regeneration serum to regrow limbs and heal wounds, Connors inadvertently transforms himself into a lizard creature. He is eventually defeated after trying to change everyone in New York into lizards, but despite his ridiculous plan, he does pose quite a significant threat.

9 Doctor Olivia “Liv” Octavius – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

Played by Kathryn Hahn

Excellent twist on top level Spider-Man villain
Cold and driven relentlessly by detached and dehumanizing scientific mind

Kathryn Hahn voiced Dr. Olivia “Liv” Octavius in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the head scientist and CEO of Alchemax and scientific advisor to Wilson Fisk’s Kingpin. Inspired by the original Doctor Octopus, Liv uses highly advanced robotic tentacles and her genius mind to pose a huge threat to Miles Morales in Into the Spider-Verse, and her almost-friendly disposition makes her even more terrifying. Despite being depicted as a villain, Liv actually helps Miles Morales and Peter B. Parker understand the “glitching” experienced by the interdimensional Spider-People, and this layered personality makes her an asset to Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

8 Aaron Davis, A.K.A. Prowler – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

Played by Mahershala Ali

Incredible atmospheric villain with his own soundtrack cues
Even more dangerous because of his personal ties to Miles Morales

Adapted from the Uncle Ben storyline in Peter Parker’s origin story, Miles Morales’ Uncle Aaron was instead placed given the job of being the role model who loses his life in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Unfortunately, this isn’t before Uncle Aaron is revealed to be the villainous Prowler, one of Kingpin’s henchmen who battles the Spider-People throughout the film before finding out his nephew is Spider-Man. Mahershala Ali’s voice performance as Uncle Aaron is brilliant, perfectly delivering the emotional punch. Ali returned as an alternate version of Uncle Aaron in Across the Spider-Verse, and is set to reprise the role in the upcoming Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse.

7 Quentin Beck, A.K.A. Mysterio – Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)

Played by Jake Gyllenhaal

A wolf in sheep’s clothing, driven by revenge
Almost takes everything from Spider-Man, even after his death

Former Stark Industries employee and fraudulent multiversal traveler Quentin Beck, a.k.a. Mysterio, debuted in 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal. Mysterio had some electric moments as a villain opposite Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, particularly when using his illusion technology to seemingly trap Parker in wild and otherworldly situations. The multiversal storyline that Mysterio introduced to the MCU was a fun tease of what would come in the MCU’s Multiverse Saga, and it being revealed as a falsehood was some great subversion. Mysterio even thrust Spider-Man into a completely new storyline by revealing his true identity to the world, so was a pretty strong MCU villain.

6 Wilson Fisk, A.K.A. Kingpin – Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse (2018)

Played by Liev Schreiber

Larger than life villain who lives up to the Marvel comics original
Terrifying power, which killed the original Spider-Man

While Vincent D’Onofrio portrays a sinister version of Wilson Fisk’s Kingpin in the MCU, Liev Schreiber voiced the looming supervillain in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and proved himself to be a worthy adversary to Miles Morales’ Spider-Man. Into the Spider-Verse’s Kingpin has control over a number of smaller villains, cementing his role as an influential crime lord, and his position as the leader of Alchemax makes him even more terrifying, as he wants to break down the walls of the multiverse to resurrect his dead wife and son. Kingpin is an emotional, tortured, relatable, and horrifying villain, and one of the most iconic Spider-Man villains in Marvel’s history.

5 Miguel O’Hara, A.K.A. Spider-Man 2099 – Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (2023)

Played by Oscar Isaac

A good man driven to desperate measures
Terrifyingly single-minded anti-hero

There may be nothing more terrifying than a villain who guises themselves as a hero, and that’s exactly what Spider-Man 2099 does in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Oscar Isaac voices the leader of the Spider Society, a group of interdimensional Spider-People protecting the fabric of the multiverse and ensuring Across the Spider-Verse’s “canon events” occur. Miguel O’Hara decides that Miles Morales’ existence as Spider-Man could disrupt this balance, as his ascension to Spider-Man robbed another reality of their Spider-Man, so Spider-Man 2099 certainly sets himself up as a sinister and menacing villain in Across the Spider-Verse​​​​​​​ – with a great deal of power and influence.

4 Johnathan Ohn, A.K.A. The Spot – Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse (2023)

Played by Jason Schwartzman

Multiversal powers make him the single biggest threat to any Spider-Man
The perfect way to use a goofier Spider-Man villain

While Spider-Man 2099 might pose a threat to Miles Morales specifically, Johnathan Ohn, a.k.a. the Spot, poses a threat to the entire multiverse. Voiced by Jason Schwartzman, the former Alchemax scientist-turned-supervillain has a vendetta against Miles for inadvertently causing his transformation into the Spot, but uses his passion to fuel his growth into an incredibly powerful and practically unstoppable multiversal villain. Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’s ending saw the Spot achieve his full potential, setting him up to cause huge potential destruction in Beyond the Spider-Verse, as he has begun his attack on the entire multiverse.

3 Adrian Toomes, A.K.A. Vulture – Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

Played by Michael Keaton

Cool tech-focused suit and real physical threat
A family man desperately driven to villainy

Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes debuted as Tom Holland’s Spider-Man’s first villain in the MCU and solidified himself as one of the most significant and charismatic villains in Spider-Man’s cinematic history. Toomes’ Vulture may have posed a smaller-scale threat to Spider-Man than some other villains in various Spider-Man films, but Keaton’s very human performance as the family man and career criminal is fantastic to watch. Keaton delivers high-intensity moments such as the Vulture and Spider-Man’s final battle just as well as tension-filled moments like his fatherly speech to Parker before the homecoming dance. Unfortunately, Keaton’s future as the Vulture is confusing, following Morbius’ post-credits snafu.

 Spider-Man has battled many villains in film.  Read More