Every Spider-Man Live-Action Movie Villains Ranked: Superhero films are ones that bring our beloved comic books to life and present larger-than-life heroes who wear capes and perform astonishing stunts. One such series that served to redefine the single superhero on our screens was Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Whilst X-Men came out first, Spider-Man was the first single superhero film to hit our screens after the debacle that was Batman and Robin. 

The Spiderman films presented a hero who had to deal with his own problems and put the needs of the greater good above anything else. He needed to deal with problems apart from their own as well. In the case of Spiderman, each villain he deals with has some connection with him either directly (Sony era) or indirectly (MCU).

These baddies help the audience embrace the struggles of the protagonist and give them someone to root against. Every hero needs a villain to push them to be their best, and the same is the case with Spider-Man. So who is the best Spider-Man villain?

Upon watching the seven live-action films, it is safe to say that some villains are better than others. Here is a look at the villains whom Spider-Man squared off against in live-action films. 

11. Paul Giamatti as Rhino/Alexei Sytsevich in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man Villains - Rhino

Rhino is part of this list as we actually saw him suit up in a tease for a third installment of The Amazing Spider-Man series. Of course, initially, I believed he was an unannounced villain as he was the first one to be shown on screen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. However, Spider-Man films are famous for this as Dr. Connors seems to be an innocent professor in the Sam Raimi films, and The Scorpion just gets overlooked in the Marvel Spider-Man films.

Out of the three villains presented in this film, Rhino had the least screen time. His character was a complete murder of what he actually is. Expectations of him being someone with fortified skin are brushed aside. The fact that he is dressed in a robot suit and is just messed up, especially when you consider that The Gentleman and Harry Osborn were supposed to use Oscorp technology to enhance his body and not give him a battle suit. Yuck. The film’s final scene was like a Jake Sully vs the AMP machine.

10. Topher Grace as Venom/Eddie Brock in Spider-Man 3

Venom felt very underused. Also, its misuse led to everyone assuming that Spiderman had changed his suit. He kind of did, but when Venom attached itself to Eddie Brock, it didn’t resemble the muscular character that was expected. Also, he just leaped in to get rid of Spiderman and the anti-hero dynamic was eliminated. Furthermore, the timing of it was terrible. Akin to Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Brock also transforms towards the end of the film. 

In retrospect, we can say that he saved Spider-Man 3 in some ways, as without him, The Sandman wouldn’t have had his revenge turn. Also, another good thing that came of this character is that it introduced casual fans to the Venom symbiote and helped the Tom Hardy reboot have some buzz when it hit screens a dozen years later. This film made audiences despise Grace’s iteration of the character even more as the conversations between humans and symbiotes were another thing that was missing in Spider-Man 3.

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9. Dane DeHaan as Green Goblin/Harry Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man Villains - Dane Dehan

Seeing Harry Osborn become the Green Goblin was something that may have stunned pure movie fans. The comic fans may not have been as surprised. 

Upon seeing DeHaan transform into the Green Goblin, it was clear that they had to go the deranged supervillain route, as there was no way he could eclipse Willem Dafoe’s Goblin. However, his screen time after the transformation made him seem like a filler villain; one unable to form his own identity to even have a chance at rivaling Dafoe’s iteration of the Green Goblin. 

DeHaan had barely 10 minutes in costume and he seemed like an afterthought after Spider-Man had already taken down the primary antagonist. One plus point could be that Marc Webb actually opted to show the serum affected him physically. However, he did seem to know he was Harry Osborn and not something else, i.e. the psychological aspect was missing. 

8. Jamie Foxx as Electro/Max Dillon in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Foxx’s villain has the best background score. The sound of the current bouncing across the scene as he blasted volts of current everywhere was just insane. His transformation from an ignored character from the crowd to someone who is the center of attention is also a classic villain story. 

Furthermore, his nature of feeling valued only to get betrayed and see the spotlight taken away from him is something that works well. Sadly, that is as good as it gets for Foxx. 

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His transformation was lazy writing. Falling into a tank of water containing electric eels after getting an electric shock. Also, his look was a departure from the comics and reminded me of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Mr. Freeze. Electro had great potential, but one can say that the greed of moving towards a Sinister Six in Spider-Man took away the time he could have had on-screen to terrorize the city with his electrical shenanigans.

Why did he need Harry Osborn to help him after his transformation? Having written his character to have broken out of the detention facility would have only made him seem much stronger before Spiderman, who had his web-shooters fried when he tried to deal with this foe.

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7. James Franco as New Goblin/Harry Osborn in Spider-Man 3

Spiderman Movie Villians - James Franco as New Goblin

He doesn’t seem like a villain, but Goblin makes this list as he tries to end Spiderman. It begins in Spider-Man 2, where he teams with Doctor Octopus only to get shocked once he learns what’s beneath the mask. That all changes in the third film where Harry has his own suit and modifications from his father’s Goblin glider. 

Harry and Peter have a fight scene right at the start which ends in a win for the hero, but Peter does face some familiar weaponry. Also, the battle between the two at Osborn pad presented the dark side of Parker’s venom suit which may have served as a catalyst for Parker to get rid of the symbiote. 

Harry, as a villain, tapped into the Green Goblin’s mindset as he built off Norman’s philosophy from the first part, i.e. breaking Spiderman’s heart. As a villain, he doesn’t rank high as he didn’t intend to harm anyone else apart from the one he perceived was guilty. He was more like someone who wanted no collateral damage in going after his foe. 

6. Thomas Haden Church as The Sandman/Flint Marko in Spider-Man 3

Spider-Man Villians - Sandman

The third film was concocted with him in mind, as Venom was just something that the studio needed to throw in. The Sandman arc also begins right after the New Goblin vs Spiderman fight scene. Haden Church, as The Sandman, is someone who just wants to mind his own business and is one who has turned to crime because of his helplessness. One can also note that he, too, doesn’t go after the citizens of New York directly and is only trying to get the money to help his family.

It is Venom that enhances the villain and convinces him to be part of that brutal fight at the end of the film, as his task is to primarily keep people away from the Venom vs. Spiderman collision. 

However, Venom’s presence restricted the manner in which Raimi could explore and use The Sandman character, and this ultimately affected the spot of both characters on the list. The sympathetic arc didn’t really help Flint Marko’s character. After the Green Goblin in Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man 2, it may have been seen as a disappointment. It was, as The Sandman was the first real super strength supervillain that had emerged for Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man to deal with. 

5. Rhys Ifans as The Lizard/Dr. Curt Connors in The Amazing Spider-Man

Spiderman Movie Villians Rhys Ifans as Lizard

They teased him in Raimi’s trilogy, but Connors, apart from being Peter Parker’s professor, never really showed any inclination to transform. This may have been something that they were working towards, but it didn’t happen. However, five years later, the reboot allowed the regenerating reptilian to come to life and wreak havoc.

Rhys Ifans had to compete with Molina’s role as the mentor turned enemy. While he played the mentor role to perfection, one can’t say the same about the villain role. It largely follows Spider-Man 2’s template and cannot really break free of Molina comparisons as everything there is better. Molina had the expressions (as his costume permitted it), but Ifans had the battle with his inner self, as we could see him struggle and really need the serum. 

Overall though, the character isn’t memorable partially because it had a lot to live up to and also because the film as a whole isn’t exceptional. However, the sole focus did help the makers give it their all and help this character be the best villain of The Amazing Spider-Man film series. 

4. Michael Keaton as Vulture/Adrian Toomes in Spider-Man Homecoming

Spider-Man Villains - Micheal Keaton

Michael Keaton is a villain who can legitimately have his outfit labeled as “bird costume”. Having played the good guy almost a quarter of a century ago in Batman Returns, he had quite a remarkable turn as the antagonist in the first-ever MCU Spider-Man film. While the previous five films had antagonists who were all connected to Peter Parker in some way, this film breaks the trend. Toomes is just a contractor who gets brushed to the wayside as Tony Stark comes in to take what Toomes had to recover. This caused him a loss for which he decided Stark had to pay. It is a take on how the actions of The Avengers led to the creation of villains. Just like Baron Zemo. 

Toomes plays the father of Parker’s love interest. He is a smart individual, as can be seen by the manner in which he ensures he can go about his business as well as the way he deduces Spiderman’s true identity. Besides being extremely clever, he has morals and repays debts. Despite that, his arrival seems ominous, and he comes across as a legitimate heel. 

As destruction didn’t seem to be his intention, his not-so-menacing costume also helped position him as a neighborhood villain rather than a supervillain. However, in terms of setting him up as an Avengers-level threat, his work seemed big and helped establish the character. I’d say that the way Vulture was presented, he would have been perfect as a villain for the Maguire Spider-Man trilogy. But he did do his part here as he wasn’t too simple nor too over the top to make Spider-Man seem unbeatable against a stronger foe. 

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3. Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio/Quentin Beck in Spider-Man: Far From Home

Spiderman Movie Villians - Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio

Behold the Master of Illusions. Gyllenhaal appeared as the trickster who presented himself as a new superhero in a time the world needed one, with many of the original Avengers having departed. 

This wasn’t a foe who had the ability to engage in combat with Spiderman. However, with the usage of technology (B.A.R.F.-Binary Augmented Retro Framing), he gave us a sight at how formidable a foe he was. The scene of him trapping Spiderman in the illusion in Berlin is something that showed everyone just how smart and powerful he was. Furthermore, the fight on the bridge atop the Thames was yet another glimpse of the man’s genius.

To keep up his game, Mysterio knew that he needed to even paint a picture of deception in every interaction (the fact that he was from another world) as well as say exactly what was needed to ensure that he got what he wanted (did those glasses really look stupid?). Yes? No? Maybe? Well, he did manage to get what he wanted. Such was this man’s prowess in terms of illusions that even when cornered, he managed to form two illusions; one set up Spider-Man: No Way Home

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2. Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus (Doc Ock)/ Otto Octavius in Spider-Man 2

Spider-Man Villains - Molina

Following Dafoe’s act as Green Goblin would have been an unenviable task for anyone. However, Molina took it head-on and played a character who, in simple terms, gave in to his urge to see his work come to life. He even came close to eclipsing the Goblin. 

Although the tentacles called the shots, Molina had shown enough moments that made the audience understand that he wasn’t the greedy or deranged individual. Even with his life’s work, he didn’t seem to be crazy behind it- at least until he was in control, when all it took was a moment of madness as he trusted his faith in his abilities. Madness is like gravity, all it does take is a little push. Octavius’ wife dying may have been the push that took away his drive to fight the tentacles.

This even made his redemption seem natural and not something that the makers shoved down the throats of the audience.

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1. Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin/Norman Osborn in Spider-Man

Spiderman Movie Villians - Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin

As Norman Osborn, Willem Dafoe’s scenes steal the show as the scorned billionaire industrialist who needs to take desperate measures at the cost of his own sanity. This gives rise to the Goblin, who we see is another persona. Dafoe even says this seconds before piercing himself with his glider. Can anyone beat him? Dafoe as Green Goblin was just something else.

Of course, multiple portrayals of The Joker and the method acting craze of The Dark Knight Trilogy villains overshadow Dafoe, but his performance was just pure acting without going overboard. His scenes with the mirror steal the show. It is a work of art to see Dafoe walk to the mirror and seemingly interact with himself. This, combined with the scene where Dafoe pleads with his mask, drives home the fact that there are two dueling personas. Also, his costume is something that is simple and helps retain his sinister look. 

He finishes first as he even makes appearances in two subsequent Spider-Man films. He helps create the New Goblin (in Spider-Man 2) and helps steer the New Goblin onto the right path after his accident (in Spider-Man 3). 

Spider-Man: No Way Home Release on theatres on December 16. Book tickets here

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