So Spiderman is a great character as you know and he also has one of the more dynamic, interesting villain galleries out there, especially for a Marvel character, we’ve seen a fair few of them, including some of his most iconic nemeses in the now 6 live action films we’ve seen and here is my ranking of them, in order from best to worst for me.
Doctor Octopus – (Spiderman 2)
Alfred Molina expertly played the more affectionately known Doc Ock in Spiderman 2 of course and he’s a great villain, both menacing and sympathetic, Molina brought a lot of nuance and depth to the role and he’s also a genuine threat to Spidey because of his physicality and his intellect, a great match for the beloved hero. He also wasn’t a villain that wanted to just destroy New York or the world because, hey he’s evil, he had motivations and inspirations and well, sort of got driven crazy and evil but still fought back against his dark desires. Admittedly, Doc Ock is a bit more evil genius in the comics but the film version gave him some great depth.
The Vulture – (Spiderman: Homecoming)
The most recent Spiderman villain is another great one, Michael Keaton does great in the role, in portraying arguably the most sympathetic villain to date, just a guy sort of out on his luck who you can totally understand and sort of even support, he’s not evil but just wants to support his family… through nefarious means, he also doesn’t really kill people so, that’s something different. Homecomings portrayal removes the characters magical elements and grounds him in technology as well, which feels quite modern and current.
Green Goblin – (Spiderman)
The OG Spiderman film is somewhat iconic in the modern comic book film pantheon, with Spidey taking on his most iconic villain, go figure, played very appropriately, in a manic way by Willem Dafoe, who really nailed the characters maniacal behaviour, his unpredictability and lack of regard for people make him both dangerous and a threat to the people around Peter and seeing Peter have to try and stop him and save others simultaneously is always interesting. And while there may not be too much depth to the Green Goblin persona, he fulfils the ropey evil villain niche well enough.
The Lizard – (The Amazing Spiderman)
I actually quite liked The Lizard aka Curt Connors from The Amazing Spiderman, he was also one of my favourite villains from The Amazing Spiderman show from the 90s, he’s just an interesting modern Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, being a brilliant scientist… and also a bipedal humanoid lizard at times, go figure. I think he was good in the film though, portraying the duality in his personality quite well and being a bit of a conflicted character, though he didn’t really seem to be bare too huge of a threat to Spidey, I felt and his menacing nature as the Lizard fell a bit flat.
Sandman – (Spiderman 3)
I don’t know about you but I think Sandman’s just pretty cool, his powers and everything, turning into a giant sand thingy and doing all sorts of physics defying things because he’s…. also made out of sand, it’s just sort of cool, right? Well in my opinion anyway, Thomas Haden Church also gave a pretty good performance for the character, who has great motivations and is a formidable opponent, one of the highlights of the not so stellar Spiderman 3 for sure and in a better film, who knows, we may have just been talking about Sandman as a great villain.
Electro – (The Amazing Spiderman 2)
Okay right off the bat, Jamie Foxx is awesome as Electro in my opinion and the man can really transform himself from role to role, being a misunderstood and forgotten worker, you can sort of understand his frustrations and his actions, also being able to turn himself into electricity makes him incredibly formidable and pretty much ubiquitous in the modern world. Like Venom, Electro just fell victim to a weak plot and became a generic mad villain in the end, being defeated in an equally generic way, Electro has never been a top tier Spidey villain to be fair but it would have been nice to see more done with him.
Venom – (Spiderman 3)
Don’t get me wrong, Venom isn’t a bad character at all, actually he’s pretty awesome in my opinion, a fan favourite for Spidey fans and the anti-thesis to Spiderman, he’s sort of essential and there’s something cool about villains that are very similar to the main protagonist in some ways but completely different in others, he was just used weirdly in Spiderman 3, which is a shame. Probably being miscast with Topher Grace as well, or so many Spiderman fans will tell you. I don’t think Grace gave a bad performance per se either but the plot just didn’t do him justice.
Hobgoblin – (Amazing Spiderman 2)
So making this list, I totally forgot Dane Dehaans Hobgoblin and yeah, what a weird way to introduce such a big villain for Spiderman, Dehaan’s a brilliant actor but boy was this a bad role for him, a rushed way of making Harry Osborn the bad guy with not much sense to it and firmly putting him into generic villain territory, a true shame and one of the major criticism of The Amazing Spiderman 2 for a lot of fans.