The introduction of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe has sparked a resurgence of popularity surrounding the historic superhero in cinema. Following Disney’s initiation of their adaptation of Spider-Man in Captain America: Civil War, many fans believe the third live-action web-slinger has the potential to surpass both Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s performances, even after limited screen time, which has resulted in Spider-Man’s upcoming solo film one of the most highly anticipated films of the MCU. With a third Spidey reboot, Marvel has the opportunity to give characters used in previous films new chances while also opening the door for the introduction of new characters. Spider-Man: Homecoming will present the first live-action manifestations of three classic villains from Spider-Man comics in The Vulture, Shocker, and The Tinkerer. With Marvel instituting three villains who have yet to grace the big screen, it is possible they will go the same route in the inevitable MCU Spider-Man films of the future, while the option of reusing villains from any of the previous five films is still something fans would fully support, if done correctly. The following ten characters are popular Spider-Man villains who could serve as excellent antagonists opposite Tom Holland’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.
Jackal, the first Spider-Man villain on the list, is one who would likely not be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe until after several Spider-Man films. Miles Warren, a professor of biology at Empire State University, taught both Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, which is where he fell in love with Gwen. After her fatal death at the hands of the Green Goblin, Miles went insane and swore vengeance on Spider-Man who he wrongfully believed was the cause of Gwen’s death. After the biologist became a deranged costumed villain with a penchant for cloning, specifically cloning Spider-Man and himself on several occasions, Jackal set forth iconic Spidey stories in the comics such as the Clone Saga and Spider-Island. Considering Jackal’s responsibility for the Spider-Man clones and the stories centered around them who many fans hope to see in future films, specifically Spider-Island which is a favorite among many fans, the introduction of Jackal is almost essential if this route is to be taken.
Fancast: David Thewlis
Most known for his role as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter series, David Thewlis has already exhibited his ability to portray a professor and “mentor” role in film. Apart from his experience of playing teachers with a darker, unknown side, he has also shown his ability to play interesting characters with “strange” mannerisms which differ from many others. This would prove to be useful in playing a former professor who suddenly turned from sanity to insanity, as well as the excellent ability to act which makes David Thewlis a solid candidate for the role of Jackal. However, as previously stated, it is unlikely the character will be introduced in the near future yet the door is wide open for a Jackal appearance in Phase 4 or even Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
- Alistair Smythe
The Smythe family, comprised of Spencer Smythe and his son Alistair, are scientists who have the ability to create giant, killer robots. Consequently, Spencer Smythe was originally paid by J. Jonah Jameson to create these robots and kill New York’s public menace – Spider-Man. After Spencer dedicated his life to eliminating Spidey but passed away after failing on many occasions, Alistair hoped to fulfill his father’s legacy and kill Spider-Man. He persisted so much to this task that he even transformed himself into a living Spider-Slayer with a bioorganic carapace that encased his entire body and served as full body armor while also increasing his strength. Smythe is known not only for his hatred for Spider-Man, but J. Jonah Jameson as well. This hatred even resulted in Smythe murdering Jameson’s wife, which is something that, if used in future Spidey films, would add a degree of darkness and something not yet seen in Spider-Man films.
While Jonathan Pryce may be most known for his minor roles in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, he most recently appeared on Game of Thrones as the High Sparrow, a character who may appear innocent yet has evil intentions, which would prove useful in playing the aging scientist whose last days are spent planning to kill Spider-Man. As for Alistair, who would be the main focus as a villain as opposed to his father Spencer, Cilian Murphy would be an excellent candidate as he has already proven his ability to play deranged characters in movies, more specifically as the Scarecrow in The Dark Knight trilogy. Unfortunately, in a recent interview Murphy said he believes the superhero movie industry is on the decline, and superhero films are not as good as they used to be. Due to this, if the role of Smythe or any other character either in the MCU is offered to him, it is very possible he will decline. Regardless, the esteemed actor would hypothetically give an excellent performance as Alistair Smythe in future Spider-Man films.
One villain who has yet to grace the big screen is one of the original villains of Spider-Man comics – Chameleon. Chameleon, who was first introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #1, differs vastly in comparison to other comic book villains in the fact that he does not rely on strength to overpower his opponents, rather, he depends on his ability to use deception and subterfuge. Chameleon has the ability to disguise himself as anyone he chooses, regardless of age, race, gender, or other qualities, which makes him a very intimidating villain considering he could be anyone, anywhere. This unpredictability would make for an excellent interaction between Spider-Man and a movie’s villain, which has yet to be done. It is also noteworthy that Chameleon is the half-brother of Kraven the Hunter, another very popular Spider-Man villain who fans have been hoping to see in the movies for quite some time now. If Kraven was to be introduced into the MCU soon, that would open the door of possibility for Chameleon to be introduced as well.
Fancast: Ray Park
While Ray Park was given an opportunity at fame with his role as Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, it unfortunately did not work out as Park has stated on many occasions since 1999 that he feels underappreciated after his performance considering he was given virtually no dialogue and no recognition. Since then, Park has not appeared in any major films, yet has been given many minor roles due to his exceptional martial arts skill. Considering Ray Park’s history of playing roles in which his face is never shown, playing a villain in future Spider-Man movies in which his true face rarely seen sounds like something Marvel Studios would be on board for. Along with this, a large blockbuster film like Spider-Man could be what the actor is looking for to help get him back on the grid.
Similar to the origin of Alistair Smythe in which a villain is born as a result of J. Jonah Jameson’s hatred of Spider-Man, Scorpion originated as a result of Jameson’s attempt at bonding private investigator Mac Gargan to an armored suit to grant him scorpion-like powers. Although the experiment worked and he was given scorpion-like abilities, Gargan went insane, vowing to kill both Jameson and Spider-Man. At the commencement of Scorpion’s stint as one of New York’s many villains, he proved himself to be a formidable rival to Spider-Man, beating him during their first two confrontations, but eventually losing the third battle and many afterwards. As most things go in Spidey comics, Scorpion dedicated his life to killing the wall-crawler and failed on many occasions, yet continued anyways. However, eventually Gargan bonded with the Venom symbiote, and briefly terrorized Spider-Man and the people of New York City as Venom rather than Scorpion. With the introduction of Scorpion in a future Spider-Man film, the option of a cinematic Venom who is not Eddie Brock or Harry Osborn, which many fans would expect, is made possible.
Fancast: Timothy Olyphant
Although Timothy Olyphant may not be a big name in Hollywood, he has the look, acting ability, and action film experience to play the role of Mac Gargan. Olyphant has played in action films such as Live Free or Die Hard, Hitman, and The Crazies, while also leading the FX television show Justified in which he was nominated several awards. Although Olyphant has yet to do a big budget film like a Marvel Cinematic Universe film, he would likely be able to adjust well and supply fans with a solid adaptation of the first on-screen appearance of Scorpion in terms of both looks and acting.
The only villain to overpower Chameleon in terms of disguise and trickery, Mysterio is a popular Spider-Man villain who surprisingly has yet to be utilized in live-action Spidey films. There are several different versions of Mysterio, including the most popular version in Quentin Beck, a former stuntman and special effects operator, who used his expertise of illusions to become an effective villain in New York. It was there he would come to battle Spider-Man on many occasions, beating the web-head several times. As opposed to the physical battles Spider-Man usually faces in which he must physically fight the villain, Spidey struggled due to the fact that Mysterio could constantly trick him using hypnotism, magic, and stage illusions. Although Mysterio has no superior physical abilities, he was still trained in hand-to-hand combat and would engage in combat with Spider-Man, while also creating robots to execute the physical work for him. There has yet to be a character in comic book movies similar to Mysterio, and the Marvel Cinematic Unvierse would be a great place for the villain to make himself known on the big screen.
Fancast: Jude Law
Due to his versatile acting ability and sophisticated mannerisms, Jude Law could very well accept any role offered and give excellent performances, including the role of Mysterio. Law has performed in an array of different genres of film, including drama, action, mystery, and comedy, leaving comic book movies as one of the few remaining genres. Due to his excellent acting ability, a claim which can be supported through his Oscar nominations, he surely can give fans a solid adaptation of Mysterio, while not only looking the part but also giving viewers an excellent performance acting wise.
- Green Goblin
Perhaps one of the most well-known villains in Spider-Man history, the Green Goblin has been rivaling Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man since the hero’s commencement back in 1964, and was the first villain to attempt to kill Spidey on the big screen in 2002. Norman Osborn, father of Peter’s best friend Harry and owner of the powerful Osborn Industries which specialized in chemical manufacturing as well as research of other fields, such as robotics. After injecting himself with a super serum which gave him enhanced strength, reflexes, intelligence, and a regenerative healing factor, he lost all sanity, eventually vowing to kill Spider-Man as a means of establishing his powerful reputation. While Willem Dafoe offered an excellent role as Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin in Spider-Man, a fresh take on the villain may be much needed following the disappointing Green Goblin appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The Goblin is one of Spidey’s oldest and most powerful foes, and if done correctly in the future, the interactions between Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and the Green Goblin could be excellent material for movies, just as it has been in the comics for years.
Throughout the extensive acting career of Jason Isaacs, the British actor has essentially played no roles other than villainous characters. Although he may be most known for his role in the Harry Potter series as Lucious Malfoy, one of the evil Lord Voldemort’s right hand men, he also played one of the main antagonists in The Patriot as a Colonel of the British army during the American Revolution in which he played a very convincing British villain. Due to his repetitive villainous roles in which is he constantly dark, brooding, and evil, he could be an excellent Norman Osborn and Green Goblin. Isaacs has not kept his distance from comic book movies or films of that nature, as he has voiced villains in several DC animated films, including Batman: Under the Red Hood and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, as well as serving as a recurring voice on the animated TV series Star Wars Rebels. While mentioning Norman Osborn as Green Goblin, it is only right to mention Harry as well, who could very well be donning the Green Goblin mask in future Spider-Man films. Freddie Highmore, known by many for his darker role in Bates Motel, could be an excellent candidate for Harry Osborn. Highmore’s versatile acting ability, youth, and experience with ominous and threatening young characters would be applicable to the role of Harry. Although Spider-Man comics normally feature Norman Osborn as Green Goblin, there is still the option of Norman being surpassed by Harry, which was already seen in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Wilson Fisk, the crime overlord of New York City who is referred to by many as the Kingpin, is one of the largest and most feared leaders of organized crime in the Marvel Universe. As the crime overlord of New York City, his jurisdiction does not fall simply under Spider-Man’s territory, but other street-level heroes such as Daredevil and the Punisher who have had their fair share of interactions over the years. Rather than doing the dirty work himself, Fisk prefers to use henchmen consisting of thugs, scientists, and other supervillains to do his bidding so he can avoid the action from afar. Even so, the Kingpin is still a physically large person and can handle himself in a fight, even landing several solid hits on Spidey over the years. As opposed to many Spider-Man villains who wish for control of New York through the use of brute force and violence on their own, Fisk uses organized crime to assert his dominance which has yet to be seen in any films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Fancast: Vincent D’Onofrio
While Vincent D’Onofrio is not much of a “fancast” considering he is already in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the Kingpin, it is still unsure of whether characters from the Netflix television shows will ever appear in the MCU films. If Marvel was to ever utilize the Kingpin in a Spider-Man film (which they should considering the characters’ importance in Spider-Man comics), it would have to be D’Onofrio, especially following his captivating performance in season one and season two of Daredevil. Unfortunately, not only is it likely Wilson Fisk will not be a dominant force for Spidey to deal with due to him being a part of the television portion of the MCU, he is also much too violent to be used correctly in a PG-13 Spider-Man film after his brutality was introduced in Daredevil. Regardless, Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin would be an excellent villain to challenge Spider-Man in the MCU’s future.
- Kraven the Hunter
While among many villains on this list who have already appeared in live-action movies or television, Kraven the Hunter may be the most popular Spider-Man villain who has yet to be adapted to the big screen. While not many villains have successfully killed Spidey over the years, Kraven is one of the few who holds bragging rights to this feat (sort of). Kraven beat Spider-Man in a fight, shot him, and buried him in a grave, only for it to be revealed that it was a tranquilizer dart that he used just to prove he was better than Spider-Man, instead of using a real gun. He could have killed him, but considering how crazy he is it did not work out. Kraven is such a dangerous villain due to his impressive skillset as the world’s greatest big game hunter, and similar to most Spider-Man villains, his insanity has caused him to become obsessed with killing Spidey, one of the only creatures he has yet to kill. An attribute which makes Kraven interesting is his weapon choices; he doesn’t use traditional hunting weapons like guns and spears, but rather prefers to take down his prey with his bare hands, while also using a mystical potion which gives him super strength, leading to excellent sessions of hand-to-hand combat with Spider-Man which would be great to see in a live-action movie.
Fancast: Tom Hardy
After playing an excellent Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, Tom Hardy has become an A-list actor not only due to his athletic stature which was showcased in TDKR, but due to his broad acting range as well. Hardy was nominated for an Oscar following his most recent performance in The Revenant, and the popular actor is already slated to work on ten upcoming projects. After Tom Hardy was reportedly supposed to join the DC Universe with his role as Rick Flagg in Suicide Squad, however scheduling conflicts did not allow him to do so. Hardy was said to be “bummed out” he was unable to join DC’s cinematic universe. If scheduling was to work in both Tom Hardy and Marvel’s favor, it is possible he could be on board to join the MCU instead. Hardy is known for playing “tough guy” roles, such as his role in the Revenant, Mad Max, Lawless, and Warrior, which would certainly be similar to the role of Kraven the Hunter. A fan-favorite such as Tom Hardy would provide viewers with an excellent interpretation of Kraven for the popular villain’s first live-action appearance.
One of the more interesting aspects of one of the most loved Spider-Man villains is the fact that not only are Spider-Man and Venom polar opposites of each other as a hero and a villain, but so are their alter egos of Peter Parker and Eddie Brock. Peter is skinny geek who is a photojournalist with morality while Eddie Brock is a short-tempered jock who eventually ruined his own career as a reporter through the use of yellow journalism. Peter’s successes and Brock’s failures are what drove him insane with resentment and jealousy towards not Spider-Man, like nearly all other Spidey villains, but simply Peter Parker. Once Brock became the host of the alien symbiote which made him Venom, he vowed to kill Spider-Man, the hero responsible for ruining his career. Once the symbiote gave Brock the knowledge of Peter’s life, he dedicated himself to hurt Peter through toying with his loved ones over the years as a means of torture, while also constantly engaging in combat in which they matched one another equally. Although Eddie Brock has yet to be cast in the MCU, Flash Thompson has, who takes the mantle of Venom after Eddie Brock and the symbiote part ways. Although Eddie is a popular host of the Venom symbiote, it is Flash who harnesses the suit for good and becomes Agent Venom, a character many would love to see in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The addition of Agent Venom would allow a crossover to be made with the Guardians of the Galaxy, a team in which Flash has spent much of his time as a hero.
Following Taron Egerton’s call to fame in 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, the young actor displayed his likeable charisma and good looks – two things which many film studios look for in actors, including Marvel as they look to cast for Eddie Brock in the near-to-distant future. Eddie Brock is known for his outgoing personality and charisma, similar to Egerton in Kingsman, while also having the stature and athleticism to play a convincing Venom. While there is the option of utilizing Eddie Brock as the host of the Venom symbiote, taking the same route as Spider-Man 3, there is still the opportunity to use Flash Thompson, who was frequently the host of the symbiote in the comics. Tony Revolori, who will play Flash Thompson, will make his first appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming next year. Following the announcement of Revolori’s role as the famous jock and bully, fans seemed to disagree with Marvel’s decision in choosing Revolori to play Flash Thompson due to his lack of size, lack of intimidation, and lack of the appearance of a bully or jock. Although he will play Flash Thompson, that does not mean he will necessarily play Venom yet it is still an option, one which will likely not be discussed for some time.
- Doctor Octopus
Considered by fans to be the best Spider-Man villain of all time, Doctor Octopus has captivated fans for many years now whether through comics, animated television shows, or the live-action Spider-Man film which is the most universally accepted of all five films – Spider-Man 2, in which Doc Ock was considered by many to be the film’s star. What makes Doctor Octopus such a great match for Spidey is he can challenge the web-head in more than one way. After Dr. Otto Octavius had four super-strong mechanical arms fused to his back during a freak lab accident, he was able to match Spider-Man in not only strength, but he also has the ability to combat Spidey unlike anyone else. Doc Ock’s mechanical tentacles give him ample strength, agility, and reach to fight, also allowing him to scale walls of buildings, trains, and any other obstacles which eliminate Spider-Man’s wall-crawling advantage. Not only does Doc Ock rival Spider-Man in combat, but intelligence as well. As a scientist, Otto Octavius is one of the most brilliant minds in the world, making him a match for Peter’s intellect. One of the more interesting stories of Spider-Man comics is when Doc Ock successfully swapped minds with Spider-Man, leaving Peter to slowly die in Octavius’ degrading body. This could provide an interesting story to use in future films which has come nowhere close to being used in the previous live-action films.
Fancast: Christoph Waltz
Who better to play one of the best comic book villains of all time than one of today’s best actors? Christoph Waltz, who may not share the appearance of the traditional Doctor Octopus, such as that of Spider-Man 2, the comics, or the animated television shows, has still proven his ability to play both sides of good and evil throughout his luxurious acting career. Waltz has won two Oscars: one for his performance as a good guy in Django Unchained, and one for his villainous performance in Inglourious Basterds, proving he can accept nearly any role and perform to perfection. These two sides to the actor prove useful in the role of Otto Octavius, who begins as a mild-mannered scientist who would never harm anyone, until he eventually loses it all and turns to a life of crime and violence. Waltz would be able to provide viewers with convincing performances on both sides of the spectrum, playing both good and evil.
Villains who almost made the list
As much as fans have been voicing their hopes for a Carnage appearance in a live action film over the years, the chances of it ever happening are very slim. Unfortunately, the character is simply too violent for a PG-13 movie and a future R-rated Spider-Man movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is ultimately impossible, no matter how much support it would receive from fans. Another character virtually loved by all Spider-Man fans who almost made the list was Black Cat, who almost made her first live-action appearance following Felicia Hardy’s introduction in The Amazing Spider-Man 2. However, due to her popularity and absence from previous films it is likely she will be utilized in future films. She did not make the list above simply due to the fact that she is not strictly a villain, but would be classified by many as more of an anti-hero who tends to play both sides. The third and final Spider-Man baddie who we all hope will make an appearance in future films is Hobgoblin. The main reason the infamous villain did not land a spot in the top ten is considering his similarities to Green Goblin, a spot on the list could have been better utilized if given to a villain who is less known to the public. Regardless, a Hobgoblin done correctly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could be a beautiful thing, although it is more likely Green Goblin will be used due to the character’s dominant popularity.
With Tom Holland’s Spider-Man swinging back onto the big screen next July, the third, and hopefully final, Spidey reboot will be in full effect. After Spider-Man: Homecoming next year, it is likely a sequel will be announced and hopefully more to come following what is already expected to be a large success in terms of both box office numbers and reception from fans. With the large popularity that has been surrounding Spider-Man villains for years, it is hard to predict who will rival Peter in the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, yet with the great amount of excellent villains at Marvel’s disposal fans can expect great things for the future of Spider-Man films.