Spider-Man: Homecoming marks the seventh film in which everyone's favorite neighborhood Spider-Man has officially appeared in since Sam Raimi's 2002 film. Not only that, but it's also the beginning of the third Spider-Man film franchise. That's a lot of Spideys! Various villains from the comics have been adapted for the Raimi trilogy, Mark Webb's two Amazing Spider-Man films, and now Jon Watts' much anticipated foray into the web-head's world. Some bad guys have been faithfully done as well as memorably and powerfully portrayed, others have downright sucked, and at least one can be confirmed as having been played by Topher Grace.
Spider-Man's rogues gallery rolls pretty deep and features some of the most iconic villains in Marvel's comic roster. Many of the hero's most important foes have already appeared in a film (others in more than one) which begs the question: who's even left to throw down? Spider-Man: Homecoming looks to be sporting not only the classic criminal Adrian Toomes, AKA the Vulture, but some other Marvel baddies as well. So, take a dive into the extended history of previous Spider-Man movie villains to determine which ones were truly great antagonists and which ones just plain stunk up the silver screen.
15 THE RHINO
The Rhino AKA Aleksei Sytsevich (and played by Paul Giamatti) in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is pretty much just present to yell and destroy things and to get humiliated by Andrew Garfield's Spidey. That's it. Paul Giamatti has even admitted in interviews that he took on the role so he could have an opportunity to chew the scenery and ham it up as much as physically possible. He also completely takes both hands off the wheel of his truck to shoot his machine gun into Spidey's face. Movie magic!
Spider-Man's battles with the Rhino bookend the film and serve as little more than fun, mindless action scenes that do little to advance plot or character. For a film already over-wrought with villainous figures, Rhino's cinematic debut is less than disappointing.
Ah, Spider-Man 3. No discussion about disappointing summer blockbusters can be had without mentioning the many mistakes of the conclusion of Sam Raimi's otherwise stellar Spider-Man franchise. Chiefly, Topher Grace was incorrectly cast as the fan favorite villain Venom in a film already boasting two other antagonists, a second love interest, and an emo Peter Parker dancing through the streets of New York City.
Venom is crammed into the latter third of an already crammed story and given little to do besides mildly despise Peter. Marvel indeed forced Venom on Sam Raimi who stated that he disliked the character. On a surface level, Raimi did his best to at least stay true to Eddie Brock but simply portraying Venom as more of an "anti-Spider-Man" did not fly with audiences.
13 GREEN GOBLIN (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN)
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 reintroduced best friend Harry Osborn back into Peter Parker's life. Harry returns to Manhattan just in time to watch his father, Norman, die of a genetic disease -- one which quickly begins to manifest itself in young Harry. The newly-appointed CEO of Oscorp discovers that for some reason only Spider-Man's blood can save him. Spidey saying "um, no" to that is apparently enough for Harry to begin hating the wall-crawler in the film. Then he quickly finds Norman's armor, becomes the Green Goblin, kidnaps Gwen, and Peter's life is tragically changed forever (until the next reboot).
ASM 2 is another villain-crammed film that like its predecessor treads over all too familiar ground and none of the conflict between Harry and Peter is earned or even logical in the slightest. World building comes before drama and story here.
12 THE SHOCKER
Spider-Man: Homecoming actually has two Shockers, played by Logan Marshall-Green and Bokeem Woodbine. The Vulture kicks Marshall-Green's iteration of the character, Jackson Brice, out of the crew after he starts getting too sloppy by firing off alien weaponry out in the open during "sales transactions." Brice then threatens to blackmail Toomes and gets vaporized for it. "Now, you're the Shocker" Toomes says after flipping Woodbine's Herman Schultz the Shocker gauntlets.
Schultz and Spidey clash a few times over the course of the film as Peter tries to thwart his crew's weapon smuggling operation. Shocker comes within seconds of ending the young wall-crawler's crimefighting career early but a lucky web shooter assist from Peter's friend Ned takes Schultz out. Adapting Spidey's MCU rogues like Adrian Toomes, Herman Schultz, and Mac Gargan, AKA Scorpion, as street-level criminals perfectly fits them into the bigger world of the franchise.
11 BONE SAW McGRAW
Late, great "The Macho Man" Randy Savage gives a surprisingly memorably performance as the wrestler who battles Peter Parker for some prize money in Sam Raimi's first film. Unlike the previous antagonists on the list, the audience can understand Bone Saw's motivation for wanting to body slam his foe into submission before a packed stadium of wrestling fans. He also challenges the young, inexperienced Spider-Man and gives the soon-to-be hero an opportunity to test out his powers.
The scene itself is simply and effectively written -- in other words, there's actual rising dramatic tension. Spidey goes in thinking it'll be a piece of cake only to learn that Bone Saw is a beast and that he's going to have to survive a cage match. Bone Saw is a fun and effective first foe for Raimi's Spider-Man although he is quickly outshone in the trilogy in favor of more tragic and dangerous enemies.
10 THE BURGLAR
Also known as Dennis Carradine, The Burglar, Uncle Ben's killer, or Uncle Ben's original killer until Spider-Man 3. The Burglar plays the small but absolutely critical role as the impetus for turning Peter Parker into the hero of Spider-Man in the comics and Sam Raimi's trilogy.
After winning his match against Bone Saw, Peter is stiffed by the wrestling manager. As revenge, he watches the dude get robbed by The Burglar and simply allows him to escape. This of course leads to the shooting and death of Uncle Ben. Peter relentlessly tracks down the killer but stops just short of murdering him, but Carradine falls to his death anyway. Peter learns his most valuable lesson through this traumatic moment in the film. "With great power comes great responsibility." This moment, and Uncle Ben's death, remain powerfully emotional driving forces throughout the films.
9 THE LIZARD
Doctor Curt Connors, AKA the Lizard, was the chosen main villain for Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012. Like in the comics, Connors, who is played by Rhys Ifans, becomes a father figure and mentor to young Peter Parker, has one arm, and experiments in regrowing limbs...this time for Oscorp. Unfortunately, beyond some exciting Spider-Man-on-Lizard fight scenes, there's not much compelling material here to qualify this version of the Lizard for the top of the list.
Connors' arc and character in the film comes off as too similar to Norman Osborn in Sam Raimi's first film. He, like Norman, performs dangerous and rushed scientific and medical experiments under pressure from Oscorp. Like Norman, he talks to himself after injecting himself with a serum and is a role model for Peter. Like much of the film, Connors is a less interesting retread of material from 2002's Spider-Man.
8 BRUCE CAMPBELL CAMEOS
Regular Raimi-collaborator and friend Bruce Campbell played three separate characters in each of the films of the first Spider-Man trilogy, each one poising a new and frustrating challenge to the hero. In Spider-Man, Campbell plays the "Ring Announcer" who upon hearing Peter's original stage name (The Human Spider), promptly declares its suckiness and gives him the title of Spider-Man.
In Spider-Man 2, Campbell returns as a "Snooty Usher" who refuses to seat Peter for Mary Jane Watson's play after he arrives late. In Spider-Man 3, Campbell's "character" even has a bit of an arc as he helps Peter plan his proposal to MJ as a Maitre'd for a fancy French restaurant. Unfortunately, fans will most likely never see Bruce take on his rightful role as Mysterio, as he was rumored to be doing for Raimi's unproduced Spider-Man 4. Yes, "Snooty Usher" is still a better villain than ASM2's Rhino.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 made another of Spider-Man's previously overlooked and classic villains its main antagonist. Electro, AKA Max Dillon, played by Jamie Foxx, is an eccentric Oscorp engineer who becomes a living electric generator after falling into a tank of genetically engineered electric eels. Shocking!
Although the film's modern revamp of Electro looks cool and the character's powers provide some of the franchise reboot's best newer material visually and action-wise, as a personal enemy to Spider-Man the villain fizzles out. Everything that drives Max Dillon here comes down to misunderstandings instead of actual drama. Electro wasn't the right villain to challenge Spider-Man on more than simply a physical level for The Amazing Spider-Man's sequel. He was just a cool, dazzling special effect to throw at viewers.
6 J. JONAH JAMESON
Played to hilarious perfection by the scene-stealing J.K. Simmons, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Bugle comes to life in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy. Throughout those films, Jameson is the main obstacle not only to positive public opinion of Spider-Man but to the success of Peter Parker. The two sides of the character can never quite win Jameson over. The more good Spidey does, the more spin the publisher can put on an attack piece against the wall-crawler.
Simmons' portrayal of the character is a pitch perfect adaptation from the comics (although this version unfortunately never gets around to creating the Scorpion or the Spider Slayers). J. Jonah serves mainly as comic relief but never fails to make Peter's life just a little bit harder.
5 THE SANDMAN
Spider-Man 3 turned heads when it retroactively and controversially changed the identity of Uncle Ben's killer to that of Flint Marko, played by Thomas Hayden Church. This decision gave Tobey Maguire's Spider-Man reason to hate Flint in order to drive the conflict between the characters. Couldn't there have been a less contrived way to get these two to battle? They've been fighting in the comics for decades!
Sandman's unique powers combined with the mind-bending effects (and budget) used to bring them to life offered quite a bit of spectacle in the film and Sandman quickly stands apart from Raimi's other technologically-fueled villains. Having Flint only wish to provide for his estranged daughter also helps make the character relatable. What made the character unrelatable? Turning into a giant mud monster at the movie's climax.
4 THE VULTURE
Spider-Man: Homecoming sort of solves two problems at once. Not only does Jon Watts' film finally give the MCU a compelling and relatable villain, but it also brings a long teased classic Spidey villain to the big screen in the form of the Vulture. Michael Keaton's blue collar family man Adrian Toomes doesn't have sinister grandiose schemes for global domination -- he just wants to provide for his family in a changing world that comes crashing down every time the Avengers assemble. Albeit, he is selling incredibly dangerous retrofitted alien weaponry around New York City to do that.
Toomes is a hardened and deadly criminal that quickly gives Tom Holland's younger Spidey a run for his money. Yet, the Vulture is a villain with a code whose worldview and choices are both believable and compelling. The Vulture's design is also a cool improvement over his classic appearance from the comics.
3 HARRY OSBORN
It probably feels strange to see James Franco co-starring as Harry Osborn in some of the biggest superhero blockbusters of all time, but this version of Osborn's relationship with Peter Parker/Spider-Man was both true to the comics and compelling in its own right. Harry blames Spider-Man for his father's death and grows to resent Peter as well for protecting the wall-crawler, eventually discovering that Norman was actually the Green Goblin -- even taking the Goblin mantle himself in Spider-Man 3! Speaking of which, was dressing Harry like a snowboarder really a better design choice than the Power Rangers-esque mask Norman wore in the first film?
Harry and Peter's relationship is complex and heart-wrenching as the two former best friends come to blows over the course of the trilogy. Spider-Man may have led to Harry's downfall but in Raimi's films, Peter leads to his redemption.
2 DOCTOR OCTOPUS
Movie Peter Parker has terrible luck when it comes to father figures. Otto Octavius, played by Alfred Molina, goes more than a little nuts after his failed attempt at nuclear fusion not only results in the death of his beloved wife, but also fuses four destructive mechanical arms to his spine. Otto's can-do attitude should be applauded because the first thing he does after the debacle that was the first experiment is to try it again.
Ock's dangerous hubris and dark ambitions are taken right from the source material and the Spidey/Ock battles are excellently realized. Ock is perfect for Spider-Man 2 because he contrasts with Peter's character in terms of failure and responsibility. Ock's failures come because he arrogantly wants it all -- fame, love, and success. Peter's failures come as the sacrifice of being Spider-Man. He can't have it all, he can only do what's right.
1 NORMAN OSBORN
Sure, Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin costume is a little silly. Has anyone seen the character's comic inspiration? Green Goblin has always been Spider-Man archnemesis and most dangerous foe. Sam Raimi's Spider-Man does a fantastic job balancing the complexities and motivations behind Norman Osborn's descent into violence and madness, his relationship with his son, as well as serving up an inaugural villain that's a physical, emotional, and psychological challenge for Spider-Man.
Spider-Man effectively adapts Norman Osborn's fall, death, and legacy stories from the comics into a single film while creating a compelling crisis of conscious for Maguire's Peter Parker. The Green Goblin also teaches Peter the valuable lesson that if he continues to be Spider-Man, the people he loves most will always suffer. In order to protect Mary Jane, Aunt May, and the rest -- Peter must always put being Spider-Man and the greater good above all else.
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