With the recent news of Venom most likely making his way into the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), it seems that Disney’s Marvel is determined to expand Spidey’s rogues’ gallery. We already have Vulture, a potential Scorpion on the way and maybe even Mysterio. Even as a teenage kid, Peter Parker has his work cut out for him. It certainly doesn’t help that with Tony Stark gone, the world will soon be looking to Spider-Man to step up and be Iron Man’s successor. If I could borrow the advice of an old sage, that at this point has probably been quoted Ad nauseum, with great power comes great responsibility.
In spite of my previous reservations for Tom Holland as the MCU’s Spider-Man, I’m still rooting for the kid to succeed and grow. And if I could get heady for a moment, villains can play an immensely important role in shaping and growing our heroes through Hegelian dialectics. When our hero and his beliefs (the thesis) clashes with an opposing force (an antithesis) it often results with the hero learning a higher truth from the conflict (a synthesis). Over the years, Spidey’s foes have served to construct, deconstruct and perhaps the character. So much so that he’d be a bit lost without them.
All this excitement with regards to new villains entering into the MCU has got us thinking though: Are there other iconic Spider-Man villains we need to see future films? Yes and here are some of the very best of them.
1. Black Cat
At first glance, you may be fooled in thinking Black Cat a mere ripoff of her more popular DC counterpart, Catwoman. I mean both of them are master cat burglars and have amazing acrobatic skills. Nonetheless, Black Cat is a complex and fascinating character in her own right. Before she donned her costume, she was the daughter of a travelling salesman, who was also secretly a master thief. In her freshman year of college, Felicia was sexually assaulted and raped by her boyfriend Ryan.
The traumatic incident left a mark on her, driving her to become a skilled acrobatic and deadly fighter. She would show the world that she was no victim, that this cat had claws. Though she was unable to exact her vengeance upon Ryan seeing that he died of drunk driving, she still managed to put her skills to good use a burglar. In time her expertise and wealth grew along with her hatred for men. That was until she met Spider-Man.
In spite of the two butting heads at first, not unlike Batman and Catwoman, there is an undeniable connection between the two. She is drawn to the Spidey’s big heart and lone wolf personality while Peter fights in turn for her redemption seeing the good in her. Throughout the years, we’ve seen the two team up, hook up and go against one another. It would seem that their two fates would be forever intertwined, even with Mary Jane in the picture. There’s so much depth to her character with her fluctuating from villain to hero to anti-hero. She’s just the kind of villain we need in the MCU to develop Spider-Man’s love life and would inject some compelling drama into the mix.
Maxwell Dillon was once your ordinary, mild mannered line repairman until a lightning strike triggered his mutagenic powers. Dillon had the power to manipulate electricity, capable of both absorbing and discharging the energy from his very body. Dillon took up the name of Electro and would later go on to become of one of Spidey’s most memorable enemies. Look, I’ll level with you. Electro isn’t exactly the top tier if you know what I mean. He’s certainly isn’t anything to joke about with regards to his powers (though that lightning helmet he had was plenty to clown on).
Nonetheless, he just isn’t a Thanos-level threat to Peter Parker…which is exactly why we need him on this list. In spite of his lesser pedigree, the man is a necessary stumbling block to Peter’s journey into truly becoming Spider-Man. In the past, the public has confused Electro with Spider-Man and have essentially attributed all of Dillon’s crimes to the hero.
Spider-Man isn’t always going to face a world ending threat or have his darkest hour with every villain he meets. That’s just not practical to storytelling. We need the villains like Electro to remind Spider-Man of why he wears the suit. It’s not about power or prestige, it’s about doing the right thing. I think a film in which Electro frames Spider-Man in an effort to discredit the hero of all the good work he’s done would be a great idea. It could even have a comedic tone but also carry some serious growth. When the chips are down and the ego’s gone, will Spider-Man step up and still fight the good fight? A question definitely worth exploring.
3. Doctor Octopus
In another life, perhaps Dr Otto Octavius and Peter Parker would have been the very best of friends. Both share a keen mind for the sciences and a love for technology. Sadly, a lab accident had rendered the doctor with irreversible brain damage. As a result of it, he developed a new megalomaniacal persona with delusions of grandeur. Octavius then repurposed his four-armed robotic tentacles, once used to furthering scientific developments, for his own criminal ends.
He would rechristen himself Doctor Octopus (or Doc Ock for short). In the past, a lot of villains have claimed to have “murdered” or “destroyed” Spider-Man but no one safe for Octavius could boast of taking over Spidey’s life. Quite literally take over his body, his identity and memories! In the comics of 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man #698, we see a dying Doc Ock switch minds with one Peter Parker, leaving Peter’s consciousness in his dying body. This resulted in Peter’s consciousness dying. I mean Otto did from then on swear to do better and went on to become Superior Spider-Man but still that’s pretty messed up!
As much as Doc Ock touts himself to be a criminal mastermind, he really is just a tragic mental patient. Maybe that’s why in the past, Spidey has held back against the man. He’s Spidey’s greatest moral test. Can he truly brand an insane man as evil? How much of Doctor Octopus was already within Otto before the accident? That’s the beauty of a villain with true pathos. Somewhere deep down, we care for them and maybe even want the best for them. Someone looking for a moment of clarity in life, something to give them meaning and purpose. Though I wouldn’t expect Marvel Studios to recreate the Superior Spider-Man storyline, I definitely would like to see Peter’s more idealistic nature when confronting Doc Ock.
4. Kraven the Hunter
If Bane is the man who broke the Bat, then Kraven is the one who snapped the Spider’s web! Sergei Kravinoff is one of Marvel’s greatest marksmans, easily in the same league with folks like Hawkeye. A man obsessed with big game hunting and becoming the greatest hunter alive. That obsession leads him to pursue his greatest prey yet: Spider-Man. In the legendary comic story arc Kraven’s Last Hunt, we see the hunter best Spider-Man in a hunt with the hunter shooting Spidey before burying alive in a grave.
That’s some cold blooded stuff right there. To add insult to injury, the man created his own Spider-Man costume. Masquerading as Spider-Man, he began his own crusade against crime with far more violent tactics in comparison to that our everyone’s friendly neighbourhood vigilante. Honestly, What is it with Spidey’s villains assuming the man’s identity?
Wanna know the funny part of it all? When Spidey got out off the grave and confronted Kraven, the hunter wasn’t even mad! He did all this just to make some strange point before killing himself! Seriously, New York City needs an Arkham Asylum for all these loons running around. The man uses chemicals, narcotics and even magical potions to enhance his ability to hunt.
Well at least the nut is in tip top form. Though there are some villains who have arguably done much worse to Spidey, there’s little doubt that Kraven’s actions have left a scar on the Spider. One that will never fully be healed. He is the man to teach Peter Parker a very important lesson in life: The bigger you get, the bigger a target gets painted on your back. Something a young and inexperienced Peter Parker should learn.
5. Green Goblin
Now we honestly couldn’t have a list of Spidey’s top foes and not include Mr Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin. From the very first time I saw Wilem Dafoe’s performance as Green Goblin, I knew that the villain was something special. That he would go on to be one of the greatest villains in the genre! Imagine if Tony Stark had lost his mind and believed himself some sort of god among men. That’s pretty much Osborn’s whole deal.
When it comes to Spider-Man mythos he is undoubtedly the most influential enemy that the wallcrawler has ever encountered. In the past, the man has done everything from putting Aunt May in the hospital as seen in 2002’s Spider-Man to murdering Gwen Stacy in the comics to torturing Peter in an effort to turn Spider-Man into another Green Goblin! Holy doghist, this guy is bad news for Peter.
The most interesting aspect of the characters has got to be how Osborn alternates between being a suave, intelligent industrialist and a cackling madman. There’s a sort of agreement struck between the two personas with regards to when each of them can take over. There’s an amazing panel in the Siege comic book run when Norman Osborn’s Iron Patriot mask is taken off, revealing a crazed, green face man beneath the shiny exterior. No matter how far he runs and no matter how much he tries to hide it, Norman is the Green Goblin.
Much like how Peter Parker will always be Spider-Man. He is the monster that stalks Peter’s waking dreams. A sick and twisted parody of his mentor and father figure. It would be amazing to see how Tom Holland’s Spider-Man will face off against a man like Norman Osborn. Every bit his better and the very worst of his rogues gallery. Long live the Goblin!