Spider-Man’s Main Movie Villains, Ranked

Spider-Man: No Way Home elevator scene
(Image credit: Marvel / Sony)

When Peter Parker adopted “With great power comes great responsibility” as his motto, I wonder if the legendary Marvel superhero realized what sort of criminals he would be responsible for protecting the people of Manhattan from. While there are even more to find in the comics, of course, the Spider-Man movies so far have given us some great antagonists to root against.

In honor of Spider-Man Day on August 1st, we thought we would look back on some of the best superhero movies starring the friendly neighborhood webslinger and, this time, honor the dishonorable, costumed criminals he has fought on the big screen and order them from our least favorite to the most fearsome and awe-inspiring. The following are the best Spider-Man movie villains, ranked to our liking.

Paul Giamatti in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

(Image credit: Marvel / Sony)

15. Rhino (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

Paul Giamatti had previously expressed interest in playing the Rhino before he was cast as the obscure villain in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, but only got to don his horned mech-suit – which almost had a very different look – at the very end of the movie. Perhaps we would be speaking more favorably about the Oscar nominee’s manic, scenery-chewing performance had he been given more time to shine in The Amazing Spider-Man 3, which was the plan before the movie was canceled (as ScreenRant recalls), or in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which we had hoped for at one time.

Venom in Spider-Man 3

(Image credit: Sony)

14. Venom (Spider-Man 3)

Some people wish that Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 from 2007 – which is still last on our ranked list of the best Spider-Man movies – could have been canceled, and former That ‘70s Show cast member Topher Grace’s performance as Eddie Brock has been cited as one major reason why. While Tom Hardy’s performance in 2018’s Venom, especially, makes him pale in comparison, the character design is still pretty spot-on and his sinister rivalry with Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker is serviceable as a motivation, especially after the symbiote begins to take control and inspires some strange behavior in Parker.

James Franco in Spider-Man 3

(Image credit: Sony / Marvel)

13. New Goblin (Spider-Man 3)

A vengeful vendetta against Peter is also what motivates Harry Osborn (James Franco) to use his father’s glider and pumpkin bombs as the New Goblin. While his time as the new villain is largely interrupted when he suffers amnesia, his arc in Spider-Man 3 works as a fitting evolution and conclusion for the character, even though I think I would have rather seen him officially adopt the Green Goblin moniker (like in the comics) instead of giving himself a new name.

Dane DeHaan in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

(Image credit: Sony / Marvel)

12. Green Goblin / Harry Osborn (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

However, Dane DeHaan’s Harry Osborn becomes the only Green Goblin of Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man movies, when a disease inherited from his late father changes him both physically and mentally after an injection of Spider-Man’s blood speeds up the transformation process. I would argue that it works as a pretty unique take on the character’s villainous motivations, but I also think I would have rather seen Norman Osborn (Chris Cooper) on the glider again, instead.

Jamie Foxx undergoing tests in The Amazing Spider-Man 2

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

11. Electro (The Amazing Spider-Man 2)

In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Harry’s Green Goblin forms an alliance with Max Dillon (Jamie Foxx) after an accident turns the Spider-Man fan into a being of pure electricity. Electro’s character arc (a lonely nerd obsessed with the hero protagonist who suddenly becomes his enemy after gaining powers) was already a bit overdone by then, but his visual design is striking (but missing for his otherwise cool and funny return in 2021’s No Way Home) and his powers are also striking in a more literal sense.

Kathryn Hahn in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

(Image credit: Sony / Marvel)

10. Doc Ock (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse)

Speaking of Marvel multiverse crossovers, in Miles Morales’ (Shameik Moore) reality, Doc Ock is a woman named Olivia Octavius, voiced by future WandaVision cast member, Kathryn Hahn. We do not see very much of her or learn much about her in the animated, Oscar-winning superhero movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and the filmmakers were even afraid the depiction might be too goofy. However, the reveal of her criminal alter ego was one of the most memorable moments of what some may argue is the best Spider-Man movie ever made – if not its sequel, which we will get to soon.

Liev Schreiber in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

(Image credit: Sony / Marvel)

9. Kingpin (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse)

Another reason why Into the Spider-Verse rules is its depiction of Wilson Fisk, voiced by Liev Schreiber. While Vincent D’Onofrio achieved a refreshingly grounded version of the ruthless crime lord also known as Kingpin on Netflix’s Daredevil show – which is being revived for Disney+ – this truly larger than life iteration captures what makes this human such a powerful monstrosity in a more unique and enthralling way than ever before.

Lizard (Rhys Ifans) screams in The Amazing Spider-Man

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

8. Lizard (The Amazing Spider-Man)

Dr. Curt Connors actually does become a powerful monstrosity after injecting himself with an experimental limb regrowth serum, and would have been a main villain of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 4 with Dylan Baker reprising the role. Instead, Lizard (as he came to be known) would be the central antagonist of 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man, as played by Rhys Ifans – who later revealed he was disappointed by the film. However, his performance as a guy who just wanted his right arm back makes him a Spidey villain you cannot help but feel empathy for.

Thomas Haden Church in Spider-Man 3

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Releasing)

7. Sandman (Spider-Man 3)

Empathy is easily the main reason why Flint Marko (Oscar nominee Thomas Haden Church) is the best villain in the overstuffed rogues gallery from Spider-Man 3 – a film Church has said he looks back on fondly despite its infamy. His arc as an escaped convict (charged with a robbery he committed to pay for his daughter’s surgery) who becomes the shapeshifting Sandman after falling into an experimental particle accelerator is one of the polarizing sequel’s strongest elements. While retconning Marko as Uncle Ben’s real killer felt a bit unnecessary at the time, Peter forgiving Marko during the 2007 movie’s ending hits harder after No Way Home, in which they reunite.

Mahershala Ali in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

(Image credit: Sony / Marvel)

6. Prowler (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse)

Peter Parker’s relationship with Uncle Ben in the live action Spider-Man movies is heartbreaking, but I would say Miles Morales’ relationship with his Uncle Aaron (soon-to-be Blade actor, Mahershala Ali) in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is even more complex and investing. In fact, it is arguably even more heartbreaking when Miles finds out his uncle is an assassin on Kingpin’s payroll called Prowler – who was brought back for Across the Spider-Verse through a crazy plot-twist – whose refusal to kill Miles gets him murdered.

Jake Gyllenhaal as Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

5. Mysterio (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

Even though fans could smell from a mile away that Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) was lying when he claimed to be an interdimensional traveler in Spider-Man: Far From Home, the reveal that he was really a vengeful former colleague of the late Tony Stark with impressive special effects skills was a nice touch. Plus, the ways he visually and psychologically manipulates Peter (Tom Holland) throughout and manages to reveal his superhero identity even after death, makes this a stronger Mysterio on the big screen than we might have expected (even after years of Bruce Campbell was rumored for the role).

The Spot in Across the Spider-Verse

(Image credit: Sony Pictures Animation)

4. The Spot (Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse)

Miles’ most important adversaries in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse are his own struggles to balance crime fighting with family and finding a sense of belonging as the odd one out in an infinite multiverse of webslingers. However, by the end of the epic follow-up, Miles (and the audience) realize that we never should have underestimated a bizarre criminal who calls himself The Spot (Jason Schwatzmann), who is, literally, made up of portals he uses to instantly send himself and objects from one place to another. His arc – going from a seemingly goofy “villain-of-the-week” whom Miles indirectly created to an extremely powerful cataclysmic threat to multiple universes – is one of the most impressive subversions in a movie that is already full of surprises.

Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin in Spider-Man

(Image credit: Marvel)

3. Green Goblin (Spider-Man)

I think we have Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe’s performance in 2002’s Spider-Man to thank for such a memorable big screen debut of Green Goblin. He essentially plays dual roles – channeling both sides of Norman Osborn’s split personality in a way that some may call silly and over-the-top, but is the perfect amount of crazy for a comic book movie as unique for its time as this. The way No Way Home addresses his duality by curing him of his ailment and forcing Norman to question his devastating actions in shame makes his return in the MCU film our favorite out of all the interdimensional villains featured.

The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

2. Vulture (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

While Michael Keaton could have done a great job playing Vulture with some of the craziness he brought to some of his best movies in the past, he rightfully employs a compelling and sometimes chilling earnestness in his performance in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming – a film the former Batman actor enjoyed working on. His reason for selling weapons made from alien technology to provide for his family (including his daughter, Liz, who happens to be Peter’s crush) after Tony Stark’s demolition clean-up crew costs him a job are also hard to argue against. It is just a shame that Vulture’s appearance in one of the Morbius end credits scenes did not quite live-up to Keaton’s debut in the role.

Doc Ock (Alfred Molina) throwing people from a train in Spider-Man 2

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

1. Doctor Octopus (Spider-Man 2)

The one character in all the Spider-Man movies who most effectively embodies all the elements of a great comic book villain is Dr. Otto Octavius. Alfred Molina gives a stirring performance as the once-aspirational scientist (and personal hero to Peter Parker) who becomes Doctor Octopus and loses his loving wife in one horrible day, before turning to crime when the AI in the mechanical arms fused to his body begin taking control. His profoundly tragic arc is key to why most believe Spider-Man 2 is the strongest of the Sam Raimi trilogy and why his No Home Way return (which Molina teased a bit prematurely) led to some of its most satisfying moments.

Not only is Across the Spider-Verse’s cliffhanger ending set to be resolved in Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse, but it is said that the MCU has a fourth solo movie in the works. So, it is safe to say that we are bound to meet (or, at least, become reintroduced to) plenty more Spidey villains when these upcoming Marvel movies hit the big screen, meaning this list is far from finished.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.