When it comes to rogues galleries, there are only two names in comics that count: Spider-Man and Batman. It’s a challenge for a casual comics fan to name more than two or three Aquaman, Superman, or Captain America baddies. With Spider-Man and Batman, though, making lengthy lists is easy. Both heroes have villains that are equal parts colorful, silly, arresting, and iconic.
The way Spider-Man separates himself is through his villains. They’re dark mirrors of him. Spider-Man got his powers through a scientific accident. Most of Spidey’s enemies are results of accidents, but they instead chose to take the criminal path. They never got the great power/great responsibility talking-to. Here are the five greatest of all time.
5. Venom: Eddie Brock lost everything due to Spider-Man’s meddling. He was revealed to be a fraud of a journalist. In his darkest moments, he meets the alien symbiote, fresh off of Peter Parker. It takes over Brock, and he becomes Venom. Together, they try to take revenge on Spidey. He has all of Peter Parker’s powers, and knows that Parker is Spider-Man. Later, Venom becomes an antihero.
Most Evil Moment: Kidnapping Peter Parker’s parents.
4. The Lizard: In his original incarnation, the Lizard is an incredibly lame villain. He’s just a giant lizard that runs around sewers. La-dee-dah. Over the course of the series, he’s become more tragic and more powerful. Curt Connors changed into the Lizard through a failed experiment to grow back his arm. Things got worse as the Lizard persona eventually took over Connors permanently. Now, the Lizard can awake the lizard brain in anyone he’s near.
Most Evil Moment: Eating Curt Connors’ son alive.
3. Kraven the Hunter: Kraven the Hunter is rare among Spider-Man’s enemies because he’s completely unpowered (or he was, at least). Even more, he was already rich and successful before he met Spidey. The world’s greatest hunter, Sergei Kravinoff wanted to hunt the world’s greatest prey: Spider-Man. Where others have failed, he actually succeeds. He kills Spider-Man (or at least successfully drugs him). Satisfied with his victory, he commits suicide, knowing he can do no better.
Most Evil Moment: Killing Spider-Man (Twice, if you count Kaine.)
2. Doctor Octopus: Being a villain is usually a one-man job. As it happens, supervillains are pretty anti-social. Doctor Octopus refuses to believe that. Every few years, he usually reconvenes the Sinister Six to try to defeat Spider-Man. Alone, Doc Ock is formidable for an overweight, near-sighted scientist. With others, he’s nearly unstoppable. He hates Spider-Man so much that he saved Spidey’s life in order to be the one to kill him. We last saw him holding the world hostage and defeating the Avengers with his newest Sinister Six.
Most Evil Moment: Creating the Sinister Six again and again and again.
1. Green Goblin: For Spider-Man, there’s the Green Goblin and then there’s everyone else. Norman Osborn is what Peter Parker could have been if hadn’t become Spider-Man: a rich, resourceful, and smart CEO of a valuable company. But he wanted more. He created the Goblin Serum, which gave him super powers, but also made him insane. Eventually, he was killed off for decades in the comics. Recently, he has become the Marvel Universe’s most politically powerful villain, often out-dueling Dr. Doom in world-domination schemes.
Most Evil Moment: Dropping Gwen Stacy off of the George Washington Bridge
Carnage: Crazed serial killer + symbiote = fun.
The Rhino: Spider-Man’s goofiest villain also has a tragic streak.
Mysterio: The logical conclusion of what happens when movie nerds become villains.