When it comes to villains, there might not be a character with as massive a library of rogues at Marvel Comics as Spider-Man. As a matter of fact, Spider-Man might be a solid second behind Batman and just ahead of Flash when it comes to worthy supervillains that he regularly faces. This is also true when it comes to Spider-Man on television and in the movies. With so many great characters to choose from in the comic books, there are a lot of great options to throw up on the big screen or onto his many cartoons.
Spider-Man has fought some very powerful villains over the years, which is impressive for someone who started out his comic book career as a young teenager and doesn’t have the powers of a God like Thor or an armored billionaire like Iron Man. Despite this, thanks to his strength and tenacity, Spider-Man has been able to beat just about any villain thrown his way with a combination of his spider-powers and the absolute refusal to quit. Here is a look at the top 15 of Spider-Man’s villains ranked from weakest to totally overpowered.
15 J. JONAH JAMESON
Sometimes the most powerful people are the ones who don’t even have superhuman abilities. J. Jonah Jameson might not be a prototypical villain, but he has been the primary antagonist for Spider-Man for most of the character’s 50-year existence. Because Jameson considers Spider-Man a “menace,” he has taken it upon himself to make sure to turn the public against the Web Slinger every chance he gets.
What makes Jameson so powerful? He owned his own newspaper and used it to paint Spider-Man in a bad light no matter how heroic he was. He is why the public feared Spider-Man, the police distrusted him, and why Spider-Man struggled to be a true hero in the public eye. What makes him so powerful is that, in the end, J. Jonah Jameson believes he is right.
For fans of the short-lived but quite excellent animated Spectacular Spider-Man television show, Peter Parker had a villain that existed in the comics but was never portrayed as important as he was in the cartoon. This man was Tombstone, known on Spectacular Spider-Man as The Big Man. On the TV series, he is the man who sends anyone and everyone after Spider-Man to make his life a living hell.
It is hard not to compare The Big Man to The Kingpin or even Norman Osborne at first. However, when he failed to recruit Spider-Man to join his criminal organization, he spent the entire first season just throwing villains at Spidey to keep him from noticing his actual evil plans. He even created his own villains in Sandman and Rhino. He would rank higher, but he did fall when betrayed, although Spider-Man was not able to beat him on his own.
13 DOCTOR OCTOPUS
With no offense to the Green Goblin, the greatest enemy of Spider-Man is Doctor Octopus. He went from a simple criminal in early Spider-Man comics to a brilliant mastermind over the years. He has also been portrayed as both a lackey, as in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series, and a brilliant scientist in Spider-Man 2. In the comics, he has both romanced Aunt May many years ago and more recently taken over the body of Peter Parker in Superior Spider-Man.
While his tentacles are the major source of his fighting powers, his true power comes from his genius intellect. When he was Spider-Man in the comics, he created advances that improved on everything Spider-Man had at his disposal. He has survived over the years as a top-tier Spider-Man villain due to his intellect and his refusal to give up in his plans for domination.
12 KRAVEN THE HUNTER
While Kraven the Hunter has yet to be realized on the big screen, that will hopefully change soon now that Marvel has some measure of influence over Spider-Man. This is because there might not be another villain that has such domination over Spider-Man as Kraven. One of the greatest Spider-Man stories ever told was called Kraven’s Last Hunt and involved the hunter actually defeating Spider-Man before taking his own life when he realized there was nothing left to hunt.
On television, there have been plenty of depictions of Kraven the Hunter over the years, but he was used as a pawn or as an enforcer in most of them. Nothing has matched up to his skills as a hunter or as someone who always got the best of Spider-Man. Kraven was supposed to appear in Amazing Spider-Man 3, but it never saw the light of day.
There have been a few people over the years to take the form of Rhino, but the most famous of these men is Aleksei Sytsevich. During the early part of his career, Rhino was just another villain for Spider-Man to fight and he usually beat him with ease or took him out when he joined up with other villains. However, as years went by, Rhino got more respect and became a formidable opponent for Spider-Man thanks to his impenetrable body armor.
Rhino has been shown to be able to fight heroes like Hulk and The Thing, but it is usually Spider-Man who can figure out the best ways to bring him down. In Spectacular Spider-Man, the only way Spidey could beat him was to take advantage of the fact that the suit dehydrated Rhino. In Ultimate Spider-Man, the show took the interesting direction of making Rhino a villain-turned-hero, someone whose power made him a valuable ally.
The original Electro was merely a former electrical engineer who gained powers when struck by lightning and he became a villain. He was usually not tough for Spider-Man to beat and was only a threat when involved in the Sinister Six or working with others. However, as with many Spider-Man enemies over the years, he grew in power and became a much more significant threat. Later iterations of him, mostly on television and in the movies, made him a much more interesting character as well.
In The Spectacular Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 movie, Electro gained his powers in a freak accident and just wanted help when the police attacked him. Both times, he was not a bad guy until fear caused others to turn on him. In the comics as well as The Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, Electro can turn into pure electricity, and that makes him almost impossible to beat.
9 GREEN GOBLIN
Norman Osborn is only as powerful as his twisted genius makes him. In the first Spider-Man movie, as with the comic books, Norman was not a bad guy (aggressively-driven, perhaps) until the serum that gave him powers drove him insane as well. With the genius of Norman Osborne and the weapons and powers that he developed, Green Goblin became one of Spider-Man’s deadliest enemies for many years.
Over the years, Norman became more dangerous as he gained more wealth and power. He killed Gwen Stacy and was retroactively at the center of the Clone Saga. On the animated television shows, he led a massive criminal organization and controlled numerous villains. He proved to be his most powerful in the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon, when he sought to gain Spider-Man’s powers to add them to his own, almost succeeding until Spider-Men from other worlds joined forces to defeat him.
The Clone Saga is one of the most despised and hated Spider-Man storylines and might contain one of the most hated comic book twists in history. This story lasted for two years and ended up with the twist that the Spider-Man that people had followed for years was not Peter Parker but instead his clone. The only thing that came out of this that could be considered anywhere near positive was the arrival of Kaine.
Kaine was the first failed attempt to clone Spider-Man. While he was a failed clone, his powers were the same as Spider-Man but at a much higher level thanks to the mutations. While Spider-Man is strong, there is no limit to the strength of Kaine. He can withstand almost any explosive blast with little damage, as shown in the comics. His only appearance on TV is in Ultimate Spider-Man, where he is known as Ben Reilly.
7 THE LIZARD
While the actual appearance of The Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man was a huge disappointment, that doesn’t discount how important this character is to Spider-Man. Curt Connors is a scientist who was working on a serum that could regrow missing body parts, which he hoped would regrow his own lost arm. However, since he was using reptile DNA, he ended up turning into the monstrous Lizard. Spider-Man always had difficulties defeating Lizard and usually just found ways to cure his friend, though most times they were temporary.
The Amazing Spider-Man took this often-tragic character and turned him into a more simplistic villain, making the sympathetic Curt Connors untrustworthy from the start and killing what made the character so great. However, he remained ultra-powerful and it took all Spider-Man had to bring him down. A much more loyal version appeared in The Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon.
While he is better known as Daredevil’s main nemesis, Wilson Fisk first appeared in the pages of Spider-Man comic books. He was always able to beat Spider-Man, and it never seemed Spider-Man was ever on his level, at least not until much later. Thanks to his money and power, The Kingpin was also above the law, and nothing Spider-Man (and later Daredevil) were able to do could put Fisk behind bars for long – if at all.
On top of his immense wealth and power, Kingpin is also a giant of a man and can withstand punishment and win most hand-to-hand fights without much struggle. While Wilson Fisk has moved on to become the primary rival of Daredevil, and someone who almost destroyed the blind superhero’s entire life, he started off doing everything he could to destroy Spider-Man, and did a bang-up job of it!
Venom might be the villain most connected to Peter Parker on a personal level. In the comics, Peter picked up the Symbiote when he was on an alien planet in Secret Wars. While it was once seen as a cool new costume, the Symbiote turned into an alien controlling Peter Parker. In the animated series, as well as Spider-Man 3, Venom arrived in different ways with the same final result.
However, once Venom was off Peter and onto Eddie Brock, it became one of the most powerful villains Spider-Man ever faced. Its sole focus was killing Peter Parker, and its superhuman strength and shapeshifting skills make Venom extremely difficult to defeat. Lowering him on the list is his weakness to sonic waves and fire, making him somewhat beatable to anyone who understands him.
Carnage is the same sort of creature as Venom, another Symbiote – this one born from Venom. What makes Carnage more powerful than Venom is the fact that Venom is only a villain because he hates Spider-Man. Carnage took over the body of a sociopathic murderer named Cletus Kasady and has no problem killing anyone and everyone, his immoral tendencies allowing him to unlock powers that Venom kept under control.
On the screen, Carnage was not really shown as powerful as he was in the comics until Ultimate Spider-Man, where he was scarier than Venom ever was and more of an alien than the sociopathic killer infected by the Symbiote. When it comes to powers, Carnage is actually stronger than Venom and Spider-Man combined. It will be interesting to see how Carnage turns out when and if he appears in the upcoming Venom movie from Sony.
Sandman is an interesting character. Initially, in the Spider-Man comics, he is just another villain that Spider-Man beats, and who occasionally teams up with other criminals over time. It wasn’t until Marvel started to flesh out the character that he became interesting, and his conflicts with The Thing were really when Sandman came into his own. However, he remains a Spider-Man nemesis first-and-foremost and has survived the test of time, even once becoming an Avenger of all things!
While Spider-Man 3 got a lot wrong, it got Sandman just right. Flint Marko was stealing money in the movie to pay for his critically ill daughter’s medical treatments and falls into a pit where an accident turns him into Sandman. Sandman can use his powers to become anything and is almost unbeatable in that state. The interesting thing about the movie is that Spider-Man can’t beat him and he escapes at the end – a tragic villain and one of the few who survives to get away in a superhero movie.
2 ULTIMATE GOBLIN
In the Marvel Ultimate Universe, Peter Parker died, and Miles Morales took over the role of Spider-Man. The death of Parker happened after Punisher accidentally shot him and then he fought the Ultimate Goblin in the streets to save his loved ones, dying in the fight – but ultimately winning by protecting everyone around him. Interestingly, even though Peter died, the Goblin survived.
To see how scary and powerful the Ultimate Goblin is, look at the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. In one of the greatest storylines of the series, the Green Goblin was using Electro to send him to alternate Earths where he was trying to collect Spider-Man DNA to mix with his own. One of these Earths was that of Miles Morales, and the Ultimate Goblin was more powerful than both Spider-Man’s and the Green Goblin combined. This is an all-powerful monster that seemingly won’t stay dead.
If there is one villain that Spider-Man has faced that is truly overpowered and completely unbeatable, it would be the Grandmaster. Marvel movie fans will get to see Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok but fans of the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series have also seen him up close in a very entertaining multi-episode story arc.
Grandmaster is the brother of The Collector and is one of the Elders of the Universe. He is a being that has mastered all games of skills and chance and loved to force others to play alongside him. In Ultimate Spider-Man, he kidnaps a large number of Earth’s citizens and challenges his brother to pit heroes and villains against each other. Collector chooses to play with Spider-Man as his main hero, and it is up to the Web Slinger not to beat Grandmaster but to somehow win the Contest of Champions.
Can you think of any other super powerful on-screen Spidey villains? Let us know in the comments!