Despite our initial reservations about getting Spidey-fatigue when we learned that Spider-Man would be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, next year's Spider-Man: Homecoming is shaping up to be very special indeed.
Tom Holland appears in his first headline movie July 7, 2017, more than a year after his debut in Captain America: Civil War. He's the third actor in the last 14 years to put on the Spidey-Spandex for the big screen, and he's shaping up to be the best we've seen yet.
But is the old adage true, is a superhero really only as good as their villains? Here we run down every live-action Spider-Man villain we've seen in the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb movies, and look forward to see how Homecoming's villains may measure up.
Green Goblin / Norman Osborn
Perhaps the biggest of all Spider-Man's big bads is Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe) — the Green Goblin. He's been haunting Spider-Man since the mid 1960s, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko only two years after Spider-Man premiered in Amazing Fantasy, and is the villain responsible for the death of Peter Parker's first love, Gwen Stacey.
One of the most compelling things about the Green Goblin is his insanity — the price he pays for the serum which gives him his powers. Willem Dafoe carries Norman Osborn well along the thin line of insanity, though we feel he would've been more terrifying had his face been left uncovered.
He was a good villain, but underused and with unclear motivations. Killing him off in the very first movie felt a little flat though, setting up his son to take on the mantle further down the line in the embarrassing Spider-Man 3. The echoes of Osborn, which continue to haunt Harry Osborn, are chilling and fit well with the character, but it still felt like a wasted opportunity.
Spidey Score: 4/5
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Doctor Octopus / Dr. Otto Octavius
Another big hitter from the comic books came along in Spider-Man 2 in the form of Doctor Octopus / Doc Ock (Alfred Molina). He's been around even longer than the Green Goblin, and is just as much of a threat to Spider-Man. He even became Spider-Man at one point, inhabiting Peter Parker's body in Superior Spider-Man.
Unlike his comic book counterpart Alfred Molina's take on the villain had more than a little bit of sympathy mixed in, becoming man undone by his own brilliance, indirectly causing the death of his wife. He initially resists turning down the path of villainy, but the arms which have become fused to him begin to influence him to turn to a life of crime.
In the climactic battle Octavius is persuaded by Spider-Man to put aside his own dreams for the greater good, and sacrifices himself to destroy the nuclear reactor he had created. Much more tragic than his comic book counterpart, Doc Ock works really well here as a villain and has a very strong character arc — although the sentient cybernetic tentacles were a little bit silly at times.
Spidey Score: 5/5
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
New Goblin / Harry Osborn
Capping off the Goblin thread which had been running through Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy is the New Goblin, Harry Osborn (James Franco). Another long running character from the comics, Harry isn't quite as dangerous as his father but his close personal relationship with Peter makes for some compelling storytelling.
Sadly, we didn't get to see much of this in Spider-Man 3. After discovering Spider-Man's true identity in the previous installment, Harry goes after him in revenge for his father's death. He could've been set up to be a serious danger, given that he knows Spider-Man's identity and his weaknesses, but his plan to get to Peter amounted to forcing Mary-Jane to break up with him, which Peter was doing a pretty good job of doing himself.
His character flip-flops constantly throughout the movie, through temporary amnesia and inconsistent writing. Though Harry and Peter do reconcile once Harry learns the truth of his father's death, it felt like a hollow victory. Thankfully he then died, as did the trilogy.
Spidey Score: 2/5
Sandman / Flint Marko
Sandman marks a bright spot in this movie, another pretty recognizable villain from Spidey's rogues gallery carried off well by Thomas Haden Church. Flint Marko began life as a down-on-his-luck man pushed into a life of crime to survive, later becoming the villain Sandman and even later became an ally to Spider-Man himself.
His duality is well-spun in Spider-Man 3, presented as a man just trying to provide for his sick daughter and reconcile with his family. When he's revealed to be the one behind the death of Peter's Uncle Ben, Peter is sent down a dark path as he swears revenge, attempting to kill Marko.
Like Doc Ock, Marko has a redemption scene of sorts towards the end of the movie, where he expresses remorse for Ben Parker's death and is forgiven by Peter. Despite the fact that he was underused, he's still a much more well rounded villain than the other two of the piece, and his Sandman "birth" scene where he attempts to hold the picture of his daughter slipping through his sand-hands is eerily poignant.
Spidey Score: 4/5
Venom / Eddie Brock
Venom is one of Spider-Man's most terrifying villains, who also presents a particular moral dilemma which Spidey has to combat. After the Venom Symbiote failed to take over Spider-Man's body it then moved first to Eddie Brock, whom we see here in Spider-Man 3, played by Topher Grace.
Honestly, I can't say enough bad things about how Venom was handled here. Eddie Brock goes from being a disgraced journalist who made a mistake, to an outright psychopath, plotting to murder Peter for exposing his own corrupt journalistic ethics. But he's not a very good psychopath, ending up causing his own death by diving directly into the path of a bomb in an attempt to re-bond with the Symbiote.
I like Topher Grace well enough (who doesn't love That 70s Show?), but he really wasn't a good fit for this role. The whole thing wouldn't have been such a shame if not for the fact that Venom is a formidable and scary AF character from the comics, who was wasted on being shoe-horned into this movie. And let's not get started on Venom Symbiote-Peter Parker.
Spidey Score: 1/5
The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)
The Lizard / Dr. Curt Connors
Another very important character from the comic books, Dr. Curt Connors did appear in the original Raimi trilogy, but just as Peter Parker's mentor, not as the Lizard. Played here by Rhys Ifans, the Lizard is a very personal enemy for Spider-Man, as the monster takes over the body of his most trusted mentor.
In the comics Lizard works because of his Jekyll and Hyde nature, Curt Connors at heart is a good person. We saw this in The Amazing Spider-Man, as he's forced into a corner by his superior, Dr. Ratha, who is pressuring him into rushing the regenerative serum through to human trials in order to find a cure for the dying Norman Osborn. He even tries to stop Ratha from testing the serum on unsuspecting veterans.
But, as with Doc Ock, his other side takes over eventually as he falls further into the Lizard persona. This was all very well and good, but then you have the terrible CGI design choices. And really, his grand plan was to turn everyone in the entire world into lizard people? So much for genius.
Spidey Score: 3/5
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014)
Electro / Max Dillon
A character who can control electricity can do a lot in today's digital world, but still Electro missed the mark a little in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I understand some people liked Jamie Foxx's take on Electro, but personally I found him more embarrassing than anything else. Sony, I know it's hard to understand what kids these days like, but having your main villain lay down a sick dubstep song whilst fighting Spider-Man is just plain weird.
Like with Doc Ock and Sandman, they tried to give Electro a good human motivation — being humiliated and ostracized by his peers — but the combination of the weird design coupled with his baseline embarrassing personality made the whole thing come off more than a little weird.
His ability to short out Spider-Man's web-shooters gave him the potential to be a pretty formidable villain, but at the end of the day all we saw was still the thick-glasses wearing Max Dillon.
Spidey Score: 2/5
Green Goblin / Harry Osborn
The Green Goblin returns (again), this time as Harry Osborn (again) and portrayed by Dane DeHaan. This version of Harry is suffering from a mysterious genetic illness which killed his father, Norman Osborn, and his friendship with Peter is a little estranged.
When Peter refuses to let him use Spider-Man's blood to cure to his condition — honestly, that's a dick move there Peter — Harry becomes the Green Goblin, and swears revenge against them both. He takes some of the spider-venom which gave Peter his powers, but it turns him into a goblin-creature due to the affects of his illness.
Unlike a lot of people I didn't think the Goblin design was too terrible this time around, but there's a lot of other things wrong with the character. Like in the comics he is responsible for the death of Gwen Stacey, but even bringing in that major comic book plot isn't enough to make him measure up.
Spidey Score: 3/5
Rhino / Aleksei Sytsevi
A bonus one for The Amazing Spider-Man 3 is Rhino, another famous comic book character from Spider-Man's rogues gallery. He appears in the movie portrayed by Paul Giamatti, and likely would've gone on to become one of the Sinister Six had Sony moved forward with that property.
In the epilogue scene Peter decides to put the Spider-Man costume back on after listening to Gwen's graduation speech, confronting Rhino as he rampages through New York. Rather than sporting the enhanced musculature of his comic book counterpart, Giamatti's Rhino wields a suit of electromech armor which actually looked pretty cool.
We don't see how the fight between Rhino and Spider-Man pans out, but you can bet on the wall-crawler this time around. Had the proposed The Amazing Spider-Man 3 gone ahead we might've made more of Rhino's character, but as it stands he wasn't very impressive.
Spidey Score: 3/5
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
And so we come to this, Spider-Man: Homecoming. At the moment there are four actors playing villainous roles, but we only know the identities of three of them. As it stands we have Michael Keaton, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green and Michael Chernus all appearing as villains, and we're pretty sure we know who all but Marshall-Green are portraying.
Vulture / Adrian Toomes
Michael Keaton is rumored to be playing the Vulture, the confirmed main villain of Homecoming. Vulture was the second supervillain Spider-Man fought, appearing in Marvel Comics the year after Peter Parker was introduced.
An electronics expert who lost it all, Toomes turns to a life of crime as the Vulture using his specially made flight harness. He was set to appear in the cancelled Spider-Man 4, but Homecoming will be the first time we see him in life action.
Birdman and Beetlejuice actor Michael Keaton has long been rumored for the role, and with the SDCC confirmation of Vulture appearing it's looking almost definite that Keaton will be the man donning the wings for Homecoming.
Shocker / Herman Schultz
Newly released set pictures from behind the scenes of Homecoming gave us our first look at Bokeem Woodbine's long rumored Shocker, and his costume is a far cry from his comic book counterpart. Which is a good thing really, as his comic book counterpart kind of looks like he's into some weird stuff.
Another brilliant inventor like Toomes, Herman Schultz uses his inventions to turn to a life of crime as a burglar and safe-cracker. His power is in the gauntlets he wears, which he designed to project blasts of high frequency air-blasts. He might not sound all that impressive, because he's not really, but he's no pushover either. He defeated the Wall Crawler in their first confrontation and in the right circumstances can cause a fair amount of trouble for Spider-Man.
He usually works alongside other teams of villains, so will we see him teaming up with Vulture in Homecoming, or will he just be there as a warm up for Peter Parker before taking on the big bird?
Tinkerer / Phineas Mason
Michael Chernus was confirmed a while back to be portraying the Terrible Tinkerer, a.k.a. Phineas Mason. Another supervillain hailing back to the very beginning of the Spider-Man mythos, the Tinkerer is yet another inventor, able to create feats of engineering from simple household objects.
Involved in blackmail and weapons design, the Tinkerer commonly creates weaponry for other supervillains, so he'll probably show up in a supporting role of some kind to Vulture, Shocker or the as-yet unnamed villain played by Logan Marshall-Green.
Which is your favorite Spider-Man villain? Have your say in the comments below!