The Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964)

Ever since his debut in 1962 Spider-man has battled a host of villains ranging from mechanical monsters like Vulture and Doctor Octopus, to superhuman terrors like Venom and Sandman. Now, with the upcoming movie Spider-man: Homecoming hit theatres around the world, it’s time to look at the Top Ten Greatest Spider-man Villains the famed web slinger has ever fought.

Top Ten Spider-man Villains

Green Goblin

Alter ego of the wealthy and powerful business owner Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin is easily one of the craziest villains Spider-man has ever had the displeasure of facing. Debuting in ‘The Amazing Spider-man #14’ in July 1964, the mantle of the Goblin King would go on to battle the Friendly Neighbourhood Spider for several decades and be held by several people including Norman’s son Harry and Dr Bart Hamilton.

Spider-man Villains
The Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964) – Comic Cover Art

After taking the ‘Goblin Formula’, the Green Goblin has been shown to have superhuman strength as well as increased speed, reflexes, endurance, and healing capabilities. The formula also increased his intelligence to that of gifted levels although the trade off is it came at the cost of his sanity.

Spider-man Villains
Secret Invasion: Dark Reign vol. 1 – Comic Cover Art

He also makes use of a number of themed gadgets, including the Goblin Glider which allows him to fly and use a variety of rockets, machine guns, blades, as well as his ‘Bag of Tricks’ which is a satchel containing a variety of bombs that can be used to kill or incapacitate people.

The Green Goblin has made appearances in all sorts of other media including the Spider-man and Amazing Spider-man movies

Rhino

Next on the list is the monstrous titan Aleksei Sytsevich, more commonly known as Rhino. Starting out as a simple thug in ‘The Amazing Spider-man #41’, Aleksei underwent a procedure to graft a super strong polymer to his body which greatly increased his strength. He would go on to fight numerous battles against not only Spider-man, but The Incredible Hulk as well.

Spider-man Villains
Rhino Comic Cover Art – The Amazing Spider-man #41

Chemical and radiation treatments have given Rhino superhuman strength, heightened levels of speed and stamina and very high durability. The Rhino’s superhuman speed allows him to run at high speeds and because of this he frequently “charges” his opponents in this manner, enabling him to cause great harm to most enemies and the surrounding area.

Spider-man Villains
Rhino, as he appeared in the 2014 film The Amazing Spider-man 2

Rhino is notorious, however, for his lack of agility and slow reaction time. This makes it nearly impossible for him to change direction when running at such high speeds and causes him to miss his target and collide with the wrong object. He is also described as particularly dim, meaning he is often bested by Spider-Man’s incredibly superior intellect.

Aside from just being a comic villain, Rhino has made appearances in numerous video game adaptations and also made his big screen debut in The Amazing Spider-man 2, although this version was a mechanised suit as opposed to a polymer one.

The Vulture

On the subject of crazed animal-based villains is The Vulture, Spider-man’s second ever villain. After electronics engineer Adrian Toomes had all his money stolen from him by his business partner in the Amazing Spider-man #2, Toomes became severely enraged. Taking his latest invention, a flight harness that also granted him super strength, he adopted the name ‘The Vulture’ and began his life of professional crime.

Spider-man Villains
Interior artwork from Amazing Spider-Man Annual vol. 1

The Vulture employs a special harness of his own design that allows him to fly and a pair of wings worn on his arms to direct himself. The harness also endows him with enhanced strength and (according to some sources) increases his lifespan. Although Toomes is advanced in age, he is a strong fighter and a remorseless killer. Through the use of chemicals he has managed to reverse his age, although this has only been a temporary measure and usually wears off very quickly and without his harness his age is a very hindering factor for him.

Spider-Man Villains
Adrian Toomes in his red and black design in Marvel Knights Spider-Man -Art by Terry Dodson.

The vulture has made appearances in many different forms of media and was set to appear in Spider-man 3 but was replaced with Venom. He will, however, appear in the upcoming film Spider-man Homecoming

Doctor Octopus

Mad geniuses seem to have a thing for basing their crime personas around animals. Enter Otto Octavius, Spider-man’s third villain and better known as Doctor Octopus. First appearing in The Amazing Spider-man #3, having had a turbulent upbringing fraught with bullying and abuse, Octavius channeled that into his work becoming a highly respected physicist.

Spider-man Villains
Doctor Octopus – Art by John Romita Jr

During an experiment that resulted in a radioactive explosion, a set mechanical arms that were harnessed to him became fused with both his body and mind. He found he was able to control these arms as if they were his own, and used them to carry out a crime spree across new york. By training himself, he has gained the ability to engage in task whilst having his arms engage in a completely different task simultaneously.

Doctor Octopus is a genius in every sense of the word, but is not an imposing figure save for his mechanical arms. Whilst he can certainly hold his own against the likes of Spider-man, he is still just a man and as such is quite susceptible to the beatings the web-head can dish out. He is also forced to wear tinted glasses as he has a severe aversion to light, thanks in full to the accident that gave his arms life.`

Doctor Octopus made his silver screen debut in Spider-man 2.

Spider-man Villains
Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Mysterio

Taking the position of my kindred spirit on this list is none other than devilish special effects expert, Mysterio. Born Quentin Beck, Mysterio made his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-man #13 and would go on to be one of Spider-man’s greatest foes. After realising he would never make it as an actor and that his job as a special effect technician was getting him nowhere, Mysterio decide to put his skills to use as a supervillain.

Spider-man Villains
Silver Age Mysterio – Art by Steve Ditko.

Mysterio has a host of specialised equipment and skills at his disposal, such as chemical abrasives for dissolving Spider-man’s web, hypnosis, sleight of hand magic, hand to hand combat training, robotics, and hallucinogenic gases.

Spider-man Villains
Mysterio from Earth-616

Underneath all this though he is just a man, and has been foiled by the powers of good many times although not without leaving his mark. An act he is arguably most famous for is crafting his grandest illusion and tricking wolverine into believing that all the mutants at Charles Xaviers Mutant Academy were villains, causing him to slaughter them all and allow the evildoers to take over.

Mysterio has yet to be featured in a movie, but has shown up numerous times in off shoot comics and tv series.

Shocker

Shocker has always been a personal favourite of mine, due in full to the fact he’s the most aware of where he lies in the super powered city of New York. In The Amazing Spider-man #46, we were introduced to a brilliant inventor (a pattern shared by many others) named Herman Schultz, who decided to use his skills to become a career criminal, leading him into many encounters with Spider-man.

Spider-man Villain
Cover of The Amazing Spider-Man #46 (March, 1967) – Comic Cover Art

His burglarious tendencies are facilitated by the use of a pair of gauntlets he designed with vibro-shock units known as “vibro-smashers” that, when activated by a pump-action thumb trigger, can project a concentrated blast of compressed air that vibrates at an intense frequency. These gauntlets create massive amounts of feedback, so much so they nearly killed Shocker as he was testing them. To counteract this, he created a quilted suited that absorbed the impact which has been the butt of many of Spider-man’s quips.

Shocker is an incredibly rational person, preferring to just attempt to make money through his thefts as opposed to engaging in a vendetta against Spider-man. He also full well he is just a guy with a cool invention in a city full of mutants and super men, which has lead him to develop chronic anxiety when he realised his criminal behaviour could attract the attention of someone like the Punisher who would not be as lenient as Spider-man.

Spider-man Villains
Shocker portrayed by Bokeem Wooodbine in Spider-man Homecoming

Shocker has feature in many comics and games, and is set to make an appearance in Spider-man Homecoming.   

Electro

One of Spider-man’s most enduring enemies, Electro is a certified badass. After a freak lightning strike in The Amazing Spider-man #9 caused a mutagenic change within him, electrical engineer Maxwell Dillon took to stealing electrical equipment to charge his powers. After a thug attempted to threaten him for money, and Electro subsequently frying a hole in his chest, he decided a life of crime may well be for him.

Spider-Man Villains
The Amazing Spider-Man #9 (Feb. 1964) – Comic Cover Art

Electro’s powers allow him to generate massive amounts of electricity, up to around 1 million volts. He is able to send out this generated electricity as arcs of lightning, and also through various methods has gained the ability to fly and ride on lightning bolts. At full charge, Electro is also shown to be superhumanly strong and fast.

Spider-man Villains
Jamie Foxx as Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

His electricity based powers come at a price though, as anything that could short circuit him poses a severe risk, so swimming is definitely out of the question. Electro has been shown in all sorts of media over the years, including being the main villain of the PSX game ‘Spider-man 2: Enter Electro” and as the main villain of The Amazing Spider-man 2, portrayed by Jamie Foxx.

Venom

Venom is an interesting specimen, being that it isn’t actually a person but rather an alien symbiote resembling a mass of black goo. After attaching itself to Spider-man in The Amazing Spider-man #300, it granted him amazing power but slowly began to corrupt him. Once Spider-man realised this and managed to free himself from it, Venom went on the bond itself to Eddie Brock and would go onto fight Spider-man on many occasions.

Spider-man Villains
The Amazing Spider-Man #300 (May 1988) – Comic Cover Art

When bonded to Eddie, the Venom symbiote grants him incredible strength, speed, and endurance. It also allows him to mimic some of Spider-man’s abilities, namely his wall climbing and web shooting. The symbiote is also capable of being undetected by Spider-man’s spider-sense, owing to the fact that the symbiote and Spider-man o were once bonded together and so the symbiote has knowledge of how to present itself in a way as to not trigger it.

Spider-man Villains
Venom (Eddie Brock) in Spider-Man: The Animated Series standing before Dr. Ashley Kafka.

The venom symbiote isn’t without it’s weaknesses though. Without a host, the symbiote is much less capable of defending itself although it can fight off weaker opponents. It is also incredibly weak to fire and sonic waves, having been shown to experience great pain and exhaustion after being exposed to either for a period of time.   

Venom has appeared as both a playable character and boss enemy in the Ultimate Spider-man video game, as well as one of the villains in Spider-man 3.   

Scorpion

The evil arachnid of the Spider-man universe, Macdonald “Mac” Gargan first appeared in The Amazing Spider-man #20 as the natural predator of Spider-man, Scorpion.

After being hired by J. Jonah Jamerson to find out how Peter Parker gets such good pictures of Spider-man and failing miserably, Jonah instead hires Mac to be a test subject for a barely tested experiment to endow him with animal based traits. After being given the traits of a scorpion and outfitted with a suit complete with a scorpion tail, Mac went on to soundly defeat Spider-man on two separate occasions. This came at a cost though, as the experiment that gave him his powers also began to drive him mad.

Spider-man Villains
Mac Gargan as Scorpion – Art by Bret Blevins.

Scorpion has arachnid-like powers similar to Spider-Man’s such as superhuman strength, speed, agility, reflexes, stamina, and durability, and also can scale walls (he also punches holes in walls as a way to climb). He also has an exceptionally strong grip, reminiscent of a real scorpion’s pincers. He wears a full-body battlesuit armed with a cybernetically-controlled mechanical tail which can whip at 90 miles per hour. The tail has in the past been equipped with projectile weapons, usually an electric generator, although it has also been equipped with a spike at its tip, which can squirt an acidic spray, and a low-density plasma energy projector.

Scorpion is without doubt a formidable foe, although thanks to his faster reflexes and nimble fighting style Spider-man just manages to stay on top. He is also completely reliant on his suit, as the impact of his mutagenic change has meant without it he will die.

Spider-man Villains
Scorpion from Earth-616

Scorpion has been announced to appear in the upcoming movie Spider-man Homecoming.

Sandman

Finishing out this list is career criminal Flint Marko, who prefers to go by the moniker of Sandman. Sandman made his first appearance in The Amazing Spider-man #4, Flint made his escape from Rhykkers Island  prison and while on the run accidentally stumbled into a nuclear testing site. Upon coming into contact with irradiated sand, his body and the sand merge causing his molecular structure to change to that of the sand. Impressed by this he takes the name Sandman and renews his criminal activities.

Spider-man Villains
Sandman – Art by Mark Bagley

Sandman has the ability to transform his body. His body can be hardened, compacted, dispersed or shaped, or a combination of those qualities to his benefit. He is able to use this to absorb most blows with little to no ill effect other than reforming himself, a relatively fast action. Because of this, he often opts to form his arms into rudimentary weapons such as maces or hammers. His powers also allow to absorb more and and dirt in order to strengthen his powers.

The downfall of Sandman’s abilities are intrinsically tied to his strengths, as he is bound by the chemical composition of the sand he is controlling. This means if cement were to be mixed in with the sand, he could be render immobile. He has also stated that while he controls all the sand in his body, there is one grain of sand that contains his consciousness and if this grain were isolated he would be rendered powerless.

Sandman was the main villain of Spider-man 3, wherein he was revealed to be the true killer of Peter Parker’s uncle, Ben Parker.

That wraps up our list of the top ten Spider-man Villains! Leave a comment below with who your favourite villain is, who you wished could be on the list, your favourite fun villain fact, or even which version of a villain is your favourite!

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Huge comic and anime buff. I love all things superhero related and analyzing the nitty-gritty of all things comic. Also an avid video game fan and currently studying video game development.

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