With a staggering 355.5 million views, the highly anticipated first trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home beat the previous record set by Avengers: Endgame for the most views within its first 24 hours. It’s safe to say the hype train is full steam ahead, and with teases of some of Spidey’s most iconic villains it’s not hard to see why. Spider-Man’s rogues gallery is without a doubt one of the most stacked in superhero history, rivalled only by Batman’s. Whose is better? Well that’s a debate for another day, but for now it’s time to look back on the villains we’ve seen in the seven live-action Spider-Man films so far and ask, which one is best?

 

  1. Shocker (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

Who? Shocker is maybe the very worst thing a villain can be – forgettable. Wielding modified versions of Crossbones’ vibro-blast emitting gauntlets, Bokeem Woodbine portrays the Spidey foe adequately but he’s never really given a chance to shine (or should we say shock).

Assisting Adrian Toomes (Vulture) with his illegal alien weapons business, he’s reduced to nothing more than a low-level henchman. Not even two incarnations in one film can make Shocker memorable, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) will never be forgiven for completely wasting Logan Marshall-Green (blink and you’ll miss him) as the original version of the web-slinger’s classic enemy. So while not really Woodbine’s fault, Shocker remains the very worst live-action villain with barely enough cinematic spark to power a single lightbulb.

 

  1. Rhino (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

Oh hell rhi-no! Bookending Andrew Garfield’s second outing as Spider-Man, Paul Giamatti stars as Russian thug Aleksei Sytsevich in an all-too-brief stint (although with the benefit of hindsight, maybe his small amount of screen time actually spared us.) It isn’t until the film’s very final moments that we see him actually become the Rhino and unfortunately, the portrayal is not spectacular.

His limited screen time can be put down to the fact that his appearance here was more of a set-up for a then-planned Sinister Six spin-off. His mechanical rhino-like armour feels like a disservice to the original character design and Giamatti’s performance, while spirited, is just a little too animated for the big screen. Maybe this is one character who would have been better left on the pages of the comic books.

 

  1. Sandman (Spider-Man 3)

More like bland-man. Ok, so Sandman isn’t actually a terrible villain, and his motives do make sense. He wants to save his terminally ill daughter and will resort to stealing to fund her treatment – who wouldn’t? It’s a simple and straightforward motivation, and one of the easiest to sympathise with. However, with the impressive repertoire of villains that Spidey has,  there’s just nothing overly exciting about seeing him fight a man who is made of sand.

Thomas Haden Church’s performance as Marko Flint doesn’t really help things either: he fails to bring the necessary gravitas to make the more emotional beats work. Furthermore, the revelation that it was Flint who killed Uncle Ben doesn’t even help enhance his character. He’s portrayed in such a dull and uninteresting way when he’s Flint, and is a visual effects mess as Sandman, so there’s really nothing much to celebrate. A day at the beach with a bucket and spade would be more exciting.

 

  1. Venom (Spider-Man 3)

Long before Tom Hardy portrayed the popular Spidey villain, it was Topher Grace’s Eddie Brock who slipped into the symbiote suit. In Sam Raimi’s final Spider-Man film, Brock’s out for revenge on Peter Parker after he exposes him as a fraud, selling fake pictures of Spider-Man to the Daily Bugle. Admittedly jumping straight to killing his fellow Bugle photographer is quite the leap but after being humiliated and with the symbiote enhancing his already established aggression, it’s not the most unbelievable motive.

Personal vendetta aside, Venom is dealt a poor hand here, only really appearing in the finale of the film. Instead, viewers are subjected to Peter’s symbiote suit shopping and cringe-inducing jazz club routine, which Raimi probably should have endured jail time for. So with only the final fight to make an impact, it’s too little, too late for one of Spider-Man’s most formidable foes. Thankfully, Ruben Fleischer’s 2018 film was a cinematic masterpiece that fully redeemed the character…

 

  1. Green Goblin (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

After James Franco in the Raimi trilogy, Dane DeHaan became the second actor to portray Harry Osborn. His version of Harry is summoned back to New York as his father, Norman Osborn, is on his deathbed. Norman gives him the keys to the Oscorp castle, including all of its technology and research. But along with these riches comes the “Osborn curse”, a genetic family disease taking hold of his body, and Harry needs Spider-Man’s blood to help save his life.

When Spider-Man refuses, he finds the remaining spider venom-infused serum at Oscorp and injects himself with it, subsequently becoming the Green Goblin. However, much like Venom, his version of the Green Goblin only gets into action in the film’s finale. His involvement here does give us one of the most iconic scenes in Spider-Man history – Gwen Stacy’s heartbreaking death sequence (Peter and Gwen forever!) However, aside from setting up the aforementioned Sinister Six spin-off, Dehaan’s Goblin simply feels shoehorned into the film purely for this moment, ultimately making him the runt of the Goblin litter.

 

  1. New Goblin (Spider-Man 3)

Despite Spidey’s range of iconic enemies, it’s been a rare feature for the live-action Spider-Man movies to have a recurring villain, and James Franco’s Harry Osborn has been the closest thing to this we’ve seen. Whether it’s his rivalry with Peter over MJ (can anyone taste strawberries?) or his determination to avenge his father’s death, Franco’s Harry ensures that he and Peter are the very definition of frenemies.

Although he only embraces his full Goblin identity in Spider-Man 3, he can’t emerge from this already overstuffed outing unscathed – does anyone though? Only getting to don the hoverboard once in a villainous capacity feels like a monumental waste of the development seen over the previous films. Much like his father, audiences weren’t mad, they were just disappointed. Thanks for the GIFs though.

 

  1. Electro (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

Don’t you know, he’s Electro. Jamie Foxx’s Electro is a villain that becomes better the longer he’s on screen. He gets off to a shaky start with an unconvincing performance, and an even worse combover, as Max Dillion, a Spider-Man fanatic Oscorp employee who gets little respect from his fellow co-workers. However, after falling into and being eaten alive by a tank of electric eels (don’t you just hate it when that happens) Dillion’s supervillain Electro is born.

Once he abandons his Spidey super-fan persona and embraces his newfound powers, Electro becomes a pretty solid adversary. Director Marc Webb creates some electric action with the character, utilising slow-motion and excellent CGI to dazzling effect. However, the truly disconcerting The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Limited Collector’s Edition Electro Gift Set would almost warrant him coming in last place on this list – seriously look it up, it’s terrifying.

 

  1. Lizard (The Amazing Spider-Man)

The first villain Andrew Garfield had to face during his time as Spidey was Dr. Curt Connors, but his friends call him Lizard. Whilst Connors was portrayed in the Raimi trilogy by Dylan Baker it wasn’t until The Amazing Spider-Man that audiences saw him transform into his reptilian alter ego. Played by Rhys Ifans, his motives are clear: using cross-species genetics, he endeavours to find a way to cure those like himself living with disabilities, ultimately striving to create a world without weakness.

However, after being fired for refusing to start human trials early he decides to make himself Patient Zero, precipitating his transformation into the monstrous Lizard. The majority of the design for Lizard was good, however, it was definitely let down by the facial features and voice – although it is great to see him wearing the classic shredded white lab coat seen in the comics. There are some brilliant action sequences with the Lizard too, especially the final fight atop Oscorp Tower, but his eventual plan to turn all of New York into giant lizards is maybe just a step too far. Calm down, Connors.

 

  1. Vulture (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

From Batman to Birdman, Michael Keaton crossed over from his DC past into the MCU to play Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture. Homecoming begins with his city contract to clear up the Avengers aftermath stripped away from him by Damage Control, a partnership between Tony Stark and the U.S. Government. In response to this, he sets up an illegal alien arms dealership to ensure he keeps up with the ever-changing world around him. His origin is established quickly and it makes sense, the film then fast forwards eight years, allowing for development over a sensible time period without rushing or overloading audiences with information.

Whilst he looks good as the Vulture in his fur collared coat and high-tech aviation attire Toomes’ best moments come from when he’s just himself, no wings. The scene in which he works out that Peter is Spider-Man is one of the best villain moments in any Spidey film. However, his action scenes as the Vulture simply never live up to this villainy when he’s just Toomes. So although Keaton’s intimidating performance could well be the best ever from a Spider-Man villain, the action moments of Homecoming let him down.

 

  1. Mysterio (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

If this was a ranking of the Spider-Man press tours, Far From Home and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio would be top. It’s undeniable that he and Tom Holland have great chemistry and the way Mysterio is brought to screen is very clever. Using projection technology, the master of illusion fools Spidey and the watching world into believing he’s a superhero from another dimension here to save them from the Elementals. In the brilliant “See that wasn’t so hard” scene he, along with a collection of disgruntled ex-employees of Stark Industries, reveals his true plans to fraudulently establish himself as an Avenger-level hero.

The illusion technology he uses allows for some of the most creative fight sequences the series has ever seen and it really adds an element of mystery to the whole film. Furthermore, after very nearly killing Spider-Man in the finale he posthumously reveals, by way of pre-recorded video footage, Spider-Man’s identity and in doing so has set up the main premise for No Way Home. So really, we’ve Mysterio to thank for all the upcoming action.

 

  1. Green Goblin (Spider-Man)

You know, he’s somewhat of a scientist himself. Yes, Norman Osborn, or the Green Goblin, was the original Spider-Man villain we saw in live-action and he remains one of the very best to this day. Driven by a desire to make Oscorp the sole technology provider to the U.S. army he’ll stop at nothing to meet his goals. However, whilst securing the contract after a string of murder and sabotage as the Goblin, he can’t gain the trust of the board and he’s ousted from his own company.

After taking revenge on them, his attention quickly turns to Spider-Man, the only person who can stand in the way of the Goblin’s power. Willem Dafoe’s iconic performance as the Goblin goes a long way in making him such a success: who can forget that manic laugh? He’s only slightly let down by his clunky character design, which is serving halloween costume shop realness. Nonetheless, his villainous actions have ramifications for the entire future of Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, and he has that chaotic blow-the-roof-off-Aunt-May’s-house kind of energy that every great villain should.

 

  1. Doc Ock (Spider-Man 2)

“Before we start, did anyone lose a bunch of twenties rolled up in a rubber band? Because we found the rubber band.” Yeah, his jokes might not be the best, but Dr. Otto Octavius’ alter-ego Doc Ock definitely is. When it comes down to it, there’s just no villain who’s more exciting to watch than Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus. Whilst definitely benefitting from featuring in arguably the best live-action Spider-Man film there is, Doc Ock’s character design, action, and portrayal consistently make him such a thrilling villain.

The surgeon massacre, the bank robbery and the train sequence are only three of his iconic moments in a film brimming with superb comic book action that has rarely been rivaled in the genre since. Specifically in terms of the live-action Spider-Man films, no superior fight sequences have ever been brought to screen. The fact that he’s received the biggest amount of attention in the No Way Home trailer as well shows just how popular a villain he is. So if many hands make light work, then it’s no wonder that with his four artificially intelligent mechanical tentacles, Doc Ock is the ultimate Spider-Man villain.