Spider-Man: Far From Home hit cinemas last week and given that the web slinger has one of the greatest rogues galleries in all of comic books, with only Batman truly being able to match up, I thought that we’d take a look back over how these great villains have been portrayed on the big screen. I’ve ranked what I believe are the 15 core villains from the Raimi Trilogy, The Amazing Spider-Man films, the MCU, Spider-Verse, and Venom. As always, this list is my opinion, and I would love to hear yours in the comments. And there are some SPOILERS ahead, but not for Far From Home.
15) Electro – Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Jaime Foxx playing a classic Spider-Man villain in Electro, what could possibly go wrong? Well everything. Firstly Foxx’s performance as both Max Dillon and Electro is awful, and not at all what you would expect from such an incredible actor. The story he is given is dreadful, and his powers make very little sense given that they chose to make him near omnipotent. Also in this era where we can embrace comic book accurate costumes what was wrong with his original look? Yes it’s a little goofy, but it couldn’t have made him any worse.
14) Rhino – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – He’s barely in the film, and what small part he does get is mainly Paul Giamatti shouting in a broad Russian accent. When it finally does come to seeing the Rhino action that the trailer teased the film finishes… still better than Electro.
13) Green Goblin – The Amazing Spider-Man 2 – Dane DeHaan’s take on the Green Goblin wasn’t great, but he does get some props for playing a part in one of the standout moments of that series, the death of Gwen Stacey, a classic comic book storyline that was stunning realised by Marc Webb. Apart from that though this is a story that feels so rushed. We’re introduced to Harry Obsourne and then 5 minutes later he’s turning on Peter, a storyline that Raimi told over an entire trilogy.
12) Shocker – Spider-Man Homecoming – We actually get two versions of the Shocker in Homecoming, and nether really get to make any sort of impact. Both versions are basically just associates of Toomes who wield special gauntlets, and neither have too much character. It would be cool to see a version of the Shocker with a comics accurate suit, and you never know given how the MCU have been delivering.
11) Riot – Venom – Riot was basically Venom devoid of any personality, which is a real shame because Riz Ahmed is a genuinely brilliant actor, but was just a bad fit for the roll. It didn’t help that the writing for Riot left him being very two dimensional, and uninteresting. As for the Carlton Drake side of the character, he’s a generically shady businessman up to nefarious experiments. Nothing new.
10) Venom – Spider-Man 3 – Speaking of Venom, there has long been rumours that the character was forced upon Sam Raimi during Spider-Man 3 against his wishes, and boy does it show. Topher Grace wasn’t really the best choice for Eddie Brock, and the decision to have the mask pull back when he talks just takes away from the menace of the character. You can understand why the studio wanted to push Venom give his fan favourite status, but this certainly wasn’t the place to do it.
9) New Goblin – Spider-Man 3 – Ok, we’re out of the awful, but we’ve not quite reached the great yet. James Franco’s Harry Osbourne had been slowly moving towards becoming the Goblin throughout the first two films of Raimi’s trilogy, and the film turn could have been great, if Raimi hadn’t had to jam Venom and the symbiote suit into the film. As it is the new goblin feels like a character pushed more into the background, rather than being allowed to shine.
8) Kingpin – Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse – I don’t think that the Into The Spider-Verse version of Kingpin manages to hit the heights of the Daredevil TV Show Kingpin, but there is still some depth to him as he tries to reach alternative dimensions in order to find a new version of his family after his were killed. He is also a genuine threat who can go toe to toe with any version of Spider-Man, something they do a great job of setting up early on. I also really dig the cartoonish design of him, that’s the brilliant kind of visual work they can do with the Spider-Verse films.
7) Lizard – The Amazing Spider-Man – I like the Lizard and his portrayal in the first Amazing Spider-Man, but there nothing really to make him shine. It is clear that they creators tried to tap into a similar story to Spider-Man 2, but without the same heart. Rhys Ifans is likeable as Dr. Conners, and has good chemistry with Andrew Garfield in building a mentor relationship with him. I’m also a big fan of the visual design of the Lizard, I think he looks great, but really the character loses it in the final act, as his motivations disappear in favour of an idiotic plan.
6) Green Goblin – Spider-Man – Willem Dafoe is the first villain from this list to appear as he helped kick off Raimi’s trilogy back in 2002. This does mean that some aspects look a little dated, specifically the suit, which doesn’t quite hold up for me 17 years on. But for the most part this was a great way to really introduce one of the biggest Spider-man villains. Dafoe hams it to the max as the Goblin, and provides all the presence and menace that you would expect from Norman Osbourne. I do think if Dafoe’s Green Goblin, and the film as a whole hadn’t been as good as it is we may not be living in this golden age of comic book films we are.
5) Prowler – Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse – The most interesting of all the villains from Into The Spider-Verse has to be Prowler, because of his relationship as Miles Morales’ uncle. In that he almost plays a combination role of Uncle Ben and Otto Octavius, the family member that young Spider-Man loses who encourages him to be the best person he can be, and the trusted mentor who turns against him. Add Mahershala Ali’s voice performance and the incredible design to that mix, and you have a great antagonist.
4) Mysterio – Spider-Man Far From Home – The most recent villain from the list makes a high appearance, as Jake Gyllenhaal’s Mysterio comes in at number 4. Mysterio was always a character that people thought wouldn’t translate well to screen, but Jon Watts and the team behind Far From Home found a brilliant way, that tied in perfectly to the MCU’s larger story. Gyllenhaal is great, both as a friend and role model to Peter Parker, and as a villain chewing up the scenery. The film even managed to create a classic Mysterio illusion sequence that will certainly please comic book fans.
3) Sandman – Spider-Man 3 – Thomas Haden Church’s performance alone means that Spider-Man 3 deserves a lot more credit and respect than it gets. The Sandman storyline is clearly the one that Sam Raimi wanted to tell, and on the heels of Dr. Octopus he delivered another antagonist that we could relate to and understand. The actual design, and the way that the Sandman is brought to life visually is brilliant. In fact the only real shame is the fact that they felt the need to tie him in more directly with Peter’s past, when he had a strong enough story without that.
2) Vulture – Spider-Man Homecoming – We’d already seen Spider-Man join the MCU in Civil War, but the first true villain he gets to fight in Adrian Toomes, aka the Vulture, a great move considering he was one of the first comic book additions to Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. Director Jon Watts does a great job of making Toomes a somewhat sympathetic man, whilst also making him an incredibly menacing figure. A large part of that comes from the performance of Michael Keaton, who really shines during the car scene between him and Spider-Man. The design too is great, with them sticking close enough to the comic books to please fans, but also making it their own. A great interpretation of the character.
1) Dr. Octopus – Spider-Man 2 – The gold standard of Spider-Man villains, and up there for comic book villains in general is still Alfred Molina’s portrayal of Doc Oc in Spider-Man 2. He is such a rich and tragic character. Someone whose hubris leads to his great fall, and all the while managing to evoke such pathos from the audience. His relationship as a mentor of Peter only serves to heighten the tragedy of it, and really ends up affecting Peter. Molina’s performance is incredible and stand up there near Heath Ledger’s Joker as one of the great comic book performances.