Spider-Man: No Way Home's Villain Returns, Ranked

Electro, Sandman and Lizard in Spider-Man: No Way Home
(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

SPOILERS are ahead for Spider-Man: No Way Home. If you’ve yet to see the Marvel phenomenon, enjoy the film in theaters before reading about it here. 

Whoa, talk about the Spider-Man villain showdown of a lifetime! We’re still unpacking everything that was Spider-Man: No Way Home. While our all time favorite moments were seeing the three Spider-Man actors share the screen, seeing all the Marvel villains from five previous movies return was absolutely iconic and we need to talk about it. The best and most nefarious way to do this is to pit them all against one another to decide which of the five stole the show the most. 

Now everyone will have their own thoughts on this. That’s the power and fun of a movie like Spider-Man: No Way Home, but this is my ranking based on my own opinions on the film and as someone who grew up loving and treasuring each and every Spider-Man era before dropping my jaw in awe of this film along with the loads of fans who’ve experienced it since the movie hit theaters. 

Thomas Haden Church as Sandman in Spider-Man 3

(Image credit: Marvel)

5. Sandman

Spider-Man 3 has long been the butt of jokes among fans of the franchise and while I don’t think the movie is quite as bad as the fandom says, in terms of No Way Home, the movie is sadly not redeemed itself. The worst villain return among the five is Thomas Haden Church’s Flint Marko. Sandman was already the secondary villain of Spider-Man 3 and not one of the most interesting parts of the original movie, and No Way Home doesn’t do much to have this villain go out on top here either. 

Out of a monumental film, Sandman is one of the laughable elements of No Way Home. He’s definitely sandy, and hey, I get it, his motivation is still his family, but it comes off pretty thin and flat in the film. That’s okay though, because other villains in the movie certainly hold their weight. 

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

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

4. Lizard

Rhys Ifans’ Lizard was never the strongest choice for a big-screen Spider-Man villain due to how ridiculous of a villain he can be, but Marc Webb’s The Amazing Spider-Man made it work because everything else going on was worthwhile and the storyline of Dr. Curt Connors mutation occurring just as Peter Parker was becoming Spider-Man had its own plot value. In No Way Home, Lizard feels a bit one dimensional (and once again, there’s a lot going on in this movie), yet they also make it work in a silly yet admirable way. 

Lizard works better than Sandman in No Way Home, because the dialogue plays at him being a ridiculous villain in a more grounded way and there are some genuinely funny moments of poking fun at him. Also, it shows that the beats of The Amazing Spider-Man still stick, because when things go down between him and Andrew’s Spidey, there’s a sense of emotion we can harken back to. 

Jamie Foxx as Electro with arc reactor in Spider-Man: No Way Home

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

3. Electro

Many of us can agree that Jamie Foxx’s Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was much better than the movie’s vision itself for the character, due to all the overstuffing that occurred within the movie. So, ahead of No Way Home, many of us were already excited to see how Foxx would forward the character with his return to the role. What’s unique to Electro here, is there are some alterations to how he looks in this movie to TASM2

For the most part, Jamie Foxx’s Electro works and is a welcome addition to the canon of the character and within the plotline of No Way Home itself. Whereas Sandman and Lizard don’t necessarily play into what’s going on in No Way Home in an active way, Electro’s character absolutely does. He’s still hungry for power, and this time it was great to see him play off his villain counterparts too.  

Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man: No Way Home

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

2. Doctor Octopus

Alfred Molina’s Doctor Otto Octavius from Spider-Man 2 has long been a favorite among fans and with that in mind, it was not an easy task for Marvel to decide to bring him back in particular for No Way Home. And yet, he is once again an undoubtable highlight once again. This return allows Molina to complete his arc as the villain by being introduced to Tom Holland’s Peter Parker and being cured. 

It’s perfect because Otto was never a villain by choice. His science made him villainous and there was a tragic moment at the end of Spider-Man 2 when he died while under the influence of his arms. No Way Home offers catharsis in the way of giving Otto the ability to choose and that ultimately places him on the side of the good. And one of the best moments of the new Spider-Man flick has to be when Molina’s Otto gets to cross paths with Tobey Maguire’s Peter again and checks in with him. Peter’s response is perfect – he’s trying to “do better.” 

Green Goblin in Spider-Man: No Way Home's trailer

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Green Goblin 

And the crowning villain of No Way Home is Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin because as he put it, “Dr. Osborn is on sabbatical honey!” While Green Goblin and Otto’s returns are neck and neck for me, I cannot discount how absolutely fabulous and maddening Dafoe’s Spider-Man character remains to be today. When the actor becomes Green Goblin, it’s absolutely spine-chilling how he can go between being stone cold Osborn and his crazy-eyed Goblin. 

Also, No Way Home absolutely needed Goblin at the party to be as great as it is. Doc Ock could never, but Goblin absolutely would and did kill off Tom Holland’s Aunt May. And in turn, it created the emotional bonding moment the Peter Parkers needed to bond and become a brief team. Goblin is just as horrifying as he was (maybe more) when Tobey Maguire’s 2002 Spider-Man debuts and No Way Home not only forwards his narrative, it has a ton of fun with it as well. 

We’ll all have our favorites I’m sure, but what a time to be alive to have all these in the same list for a singular movie!! Following Spider-Man: No Way Home, we’ll keep you posted with more MCU updates. Take a peek at the upcoming Marvel movies hitting theaters next, starting with Sam Raimi’s return to the comic book world with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.  

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.