Since his creation some six decades ago, Spider-Man has gone on to become one of biggest and most recognizable superheroes in the world. He started life in print, but can now be found in television shows, movies and a plethora of high quality video games as well. While undoubtedly a great character though, the Spider-Man franchise would have been nowhere near as successful as it has been were it not for its fantastic roster of villains.
It’s their diabolical schemes that push Spider-Man to his limits and make the series so exciting to read, watch and play. Whether they’re teaming up to take the web-slinger down or committing unspeakable acts in the city around him, their antics have made for some of the most iconic moments in the history of the franchise and have cemented their places as some of the best villains ever created.
10 Kraven The Hunter
Kraven has been on the scene for almost five decades now, although is very rarely given any real opportunities to shine. When he is though, he doesn’t disappoint and has provided some memorable moments during his time in the spotlight. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the bulk of these came in a short six part story arc named Kraven: The Last Hunt.
After sedating Spider-Man and then burying him alive, Kraven starts impersonating the hero in an attempt to prove that he is the superior specimen. He arguably achieves this as well through his capture of Vermin; a villain that Spider-Man had only previously been able to apprehend with the assistance of Captain America. The character has returned in other forms since then, but none have quite lived up to the original.
At first glance, Morbius may seem like a fairly generic villain that borrows far too much from vampiric folklore. While it’s certainly a big part of who he is, there is much more to Michael Morbius as a character than first meets the eye. He’s complex, he’s self aware and he’s an incredibly gifted individual to boot.
The character’s struggles to overcome his unquenchable thirst for human blood and his disdain for the creature that he has become sets him apart from many of the series’ other villains. It’s also a big part of what made him such a fantastic antihero when he got his very own spinoff series. Despite his often conscientious approach though, he has still committed some truly terrible deeds and has collided violently with Spider-Man on multiple occasions over the years.
With so many of the series’ characters based on animals, it’s refreshing to see one who is a little more original. There’s quite a lot of depth to Flint Marko too, with his character often serving to highlight the duality of man and the moral conflict that it can sometimes lead to. While there’s certainly some good within him though, he’s far from an angel.
Marko had turned to a life of crime long before becoming Sandman, with his new powers only serving to further his criminal career. He’s able to withstand an awful lot of punishment and packs quite the punch too, although his weakness to water makes for one hell of an Achiles’ heel. Even so, he’s caused the web-slinger plenty of problems in the past and remains incredibly dangerous while on dry land.
Although not as recognizable as some of the other villains to feature in Spider-Man‘s gallery of rogues, Vulture was actually the second ever villain to appear in the series and one of the founding members of the Sinister Six. He’s one of a small number of people who know Spider-Mans true identity and has provided the hero with some stern tests over the past half century.
Having failed to appear in either of the earlier Spider-Man movies, comic book readers were delighted when the character showed up in Spider-Man: Homecoming while everybody else got the chance to learn just what Adrian Toomes is capable of. He may not have any real superpowers to speak of, but he’s proven himself to be a fierce adversary on many occasions and is willing to kill to get what he wants.
Mysterio may have taken his time to show up in one of the series’ many movies, but he’s been on the Spider-Man scene since 1964. Much like Scarecrow in the Batman series, Quentin Beck isn’t blessed with any superhuman powers per se, but is instead an illustrious illusionist and a more than capable chemist to boot.
It’s through these means that he’s able to go toe to toe with Spider-Man; often relying on his past experience as a stunt man in the process. His masterful tricks have taken Spidey for a ride on more than one occasion and although he has a horrible habit of falling at the final hurdle, he always comes back for more.
First appearing back in the eighties, Venom is a sentient alien symbiote that is able to bond with other lifeforms. It started out as a living spidery suit but later evolved into an entity in its own right. Although it’s Spider-Man who first plays host to the creature, its most infamous occupant is the Spider-Man hating journalist Eddie Brock.
Brock’s somewhat irrational disdain for the web-slinger is exactly what the symbiote needs to get inside his head and it is quickly able to warp and manipulate his fragile mind. Together, they are a match for Spider-Man in almost every department and regularly emerge victorious from their encounters with the wall-crawling hero.
For as deadly as Venom can be, the symbiotic being is still capable of reason to a certain degree. Sadly, however, the same cannot be said of its offspring, Carnage. It’s this lack of cognitive ability and the symbiote’s unfathomable power that makes it such a huge threat to Spider-Man and the world in general. Just like Venom though, it needs a strong host to really shine.
When bonded with the serial killer Cletus Kasady, Carnage becomes a near unstoppable force that more than lives up to its name. Kasady’s homicidal and sadistic tendencies makes him the perfect host for the symbiote, which is able to amplify these deficiencies and really cranks the dial up to eleven when doing so. Many others have carried the Carnage name over the years, but none quite as well as Kasady.
Although Wilson Fisk features prominently in the Netflix Daredevil series, he’s very much a Spider-Man villain. He first appeared in the fiftieth issue of The Amazing Spider-Man and, although he started life as a fairly generic mob boss, has since gone on to become one of Spider-Man’s most dangerous foes.
Thanks to his commanding physique, Kingpin has no need for super powers; instead relying on brute force and political influence to get the better of his enemies. The crime lord also has an army of foot soldiers to do his evil bidding and the capital required to bring just about any evil scheme conceivable to fruition.
2 The Green Goblin
The Green Goblin is a fantastic villain in his own right, but it’s arguably Peter’s connection with the Osborn family that makes him one of the very best. Many other characters have taken up the mantle over the years, but it’s Norman and his son that really bring the character to life.
With the financial muscle of Oscorp at his back, the goblin has access to an unstoppable arsenal of state of the art firepower and his Goblin Glider allows him to soar through the city just as effortlessly and effectively as his arch nemesis can. The character has carried out more than his fair share of shady schemes over the years and even killed Peter’s love interest Gwen Stacy back in the seventies; thus cementing his status as one of the most deadly villains in the series.
1 Dr. Octopus
While the majority of Spider-Man’s enemies rely predominantly on their superhuman strength and high tech weaponry, Dr. Octopus typically tackles the web-slinger with brains rather than brawn. It’s a tactic that’s paid off too, with Doc Ock one of the very few Marvel villains to have succeeded in bringing about the demise of the masked hero.
While intellect is undoubtedly the doc’s strongest weapon, his mechanical tentacles can do a lot more than just tickle. He’s returned from the dead, gone toe to toe with some of Marvel’s most renowned superheroes and even got a chance to replace Spider-Man in the Avenging Spider-Man series. He arguably did a better job too, although has since returned to his villainous ways.