9 Spider-Man Villains We’d Love To See As Main Characters In Movies


There’s no shortage of classic Spider-Man villains who have served as antagonists in the webslinger’s big-screen adventures, but the strange circumstances of the modern film industry mean that a bunch of Spidey villains are now also expected to hold up solo franchises of their own. Venom, Carnage, and even Morbius: The Living Vampire have all headlined their own flicks, and they were only the beginning.

But Spider-Man has a truly extensive rogues’ gallery, full of literally dozens of sinister foes and effective foils. Some Spidey villains are heinous monsters, but the vast majority of them are actually sympathetic figures with rich backstories and plenty of pathos. In other words, even some of the more obscure Spider-Man villains might be capable of carrying their own films – and that’s good news, because one day, they may just have to!

1. Doctor Octopus

Doctor Octopus

Doctor Otto Octavius has made a number of cinematic appearances already, and yet it feels like only the surface of his vast character has been scratched. The comic book version of Doctor Octopus differs significantly from Sam Raimi’s take on him, and while both villains are ultimately tragic, the comic book Doc Ock is mostly a victim of his own hubris.

It should come as no surprise that the man who once labeled himself the Superior Spider-Man might have a bit of a superiority complex. It was the disrespect of the scientific community that pushed Otto into performing increasingly dangerous experiments until he wound up with four mechanical tentacles grafted to his body. Sure, his first few clashes with Spider-Man may have been motivated by personal gain, but every battle since has been fueled by the embarrassment Ock has felt from his many defeats.

There’s a reason Doc Ock formed the Sinister Six, and it’s because he needs to be in charge. This insecurity, and this inability to learn and grow, have caused Ock to resort to ever grander, ever more destructive schemes bent on world domination. He’s a villain who just can’t help himself. He could save the world and get all the praise he deserves for his intellect, but that would entail him listening to and working with others, and that’s not on the table for Otto Octavius.

The true tale of Doctor Octopus is of a man who could truly have it all, but who just can’t stop himself from engaging in activities that end with him getting punched in the face by a superhero. The true tale of Doctor Octopus is a sad one. 

2. Chameleon


Kraven the Hunter gets all the Hollywood love, but nobody seems to be paying any attention to his half-brother, Dmitri Smerdyakov. The Chameleon was actually the very first supervillain Spider-Man ever faced, and he’s been an on-again, off-again presence on the Sinister Six ever since, as well as a constant thorn in the wallcrawler’s side.

Chameleon’s mastery of disguise seems ripe for an espionage thriller. He’s a master spy who can shapeshift, but he’s not working for Her Majesty’s Secret Service or the CIA or any of that junk – he’s just in it for his own evil purposes. Envision a Chameleon solo project as half-The Thing, half-Catch Me If You Can, and watch the box-office dollars roll in.

Imagine the tension of watching a scene in such a film, knowing that any character on screen at any given time could be the Chameleon. But which one?! That’s the fun of it all.

3. Sandman


William Baker, also known as Flint Marko, isn’t truly a bad guy. It’s the circumstances of his life that have forced him into villainy, and that’s the hook, right there. Enough of villains who choose to do evil. The Sandman is a villain who chooses to do good – and always winds up doing evil anyway.

Sandman only ever got into crime to help out a friend who had gone deep into gambling debt. The unfortunate thing was that he was really good at crime, so he kept getting un-turn-down-able opportunities until, next thing he knew, he was inside a nuclear testing site getting turned into sentient sand. Then, it turned out he was also a really good supervillain. Sandman is kind of like Walter White if Walter White were made of sand.

Still, the Sandman tried to do right. He reformed a dozen times. He joined the Fantastic Four. He joined the Avengers. He received a presidential pardon. Every time, something happened to drag him back over to the dark side. Sometimes it was blackmail, sometimes it was brainwashing. Sometimes, all that sand-shifting affects his brain, and it rewrites all his character growth. One time, he did it in a doomed attempt to gain back custody of his daughter.

The saga of Sandman, if done right, could be a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions. In a world built for superheroes and supervillains, what can Baker do but play his part?

4. Mysterio


Quentin Beck’s backstory in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was quite a bit different than his typical comic book origin. In the annals of Marvel Comics, Beck is a disgraced special effects artist with a serious sadistic streak, and everything he does as Mysterio is an extension of that expertise – it’s all a clever illusion.

Placing a character like Mysterio at the center of an actual movie would be a stroke of sheer genius. Audiences suspend their disbelief every time they step into a theater, so they’d already be primed to be fooled by Mysterio’s tricks. Is what they’re seeing a special effect, or a “special effect”? They might not know until it’s over.

People go wild for films in which they don’t quite know what’s real and what isn’t. Think of Inception and Total Recall. Put Mysterio up against any generic hero type, and then reveal at the end that the entire thing has been a ruse at the audience’s expense, and they’ll never forget it. 

5. Hobgoblin


Some disregard the Hobgoblin as a mere Green Goblin rip-off. Those people are fools. In fact, the similarities between the Green Goblin and Hobgoblin were a conscious choice for this character, because the word “Goblin” tends to market well. Truly, this is a villain who is all about good branding, and you know what else thrives on good branding? Film franchises.

To explain, it helps to get into who’s been behind the Hobgoblin mask. Roderick Kingsley isn’t exactly a household name, but, again, that’s kind of the point. While Kingsley used the Goblin motif to make his supervillain identity more visible, he also took steps to ensure that his real identity stayed out of the spotlight. He successfully framed Peter Parker’s friend Ned Leeds as the “real” Hobgoblin before arranging Ned’s demise – and that wasn’t the only time that happened, either.

The Hobgoblin is a thinking person’s goblin. He brands well, he frames others for his crimes, and he keeps his real self free and clear to enjoy the spoils of those crimes. At one point, Kingsley got tired of the whole routine and retired to the Caribbean, from which he essentially franchised out the Hobgoblin identity to anyone dumb enough to pay for it. This way, the Hobgoblin always lives to fight another day.

Make Hobby’s gaming of the supervillain system the focus of his movie, and he might not even need a superhero to go up against. 

6. Mister Negative

Mister Negative

Mister Negative is a fairly new addition to Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery, having only made his debut in 2007, but he’s definitely made up for lost time. Once a reprehensible human trafficker, the man who would become Mister Negative was captured and experimented on by notorious mobster Silvermane. As a result, the man split into two distinct personalities: Mister Positive, a benevolent philanthropist who went by Martin Li, and Mister Negative, a ruthless criminal mastermind with devastating powers.

Think of Mister Negative as Moon Knight, but only if either Steven Grant or Marc Spector were a remorseless monster. For all the good Mister Positive does, working with May Parker at the F.E.A.S.T. shelter and pouring money into social projects, Mister Negative does just as much harm. His powers allow him to corrupt individuals with a touch, ensuring that any of his enemies have to fight their way through waves of innocent people to get to him. And if they do, he’s packing plenty of offensive punch himself.

A Mister Negative film might not even need an antagonist. The story could be about Martin Li versus himself: one man trying to make the world a better place, and one man trying to profit off its destruction, with both sharing the same body. Add in the undeniably cool aesthetic of Mister Negative’s inverted black-and-white appearance, and you’ve got a box-office winner.

7. The Lizard

The Lizard

The biggest trend in supervillain solo ventures seems to be honing in on a baddie with enough tragedy in their tale to activate audiences’ empathy. And if tragedy is what we’re after, the Lizard brings more to the table than just about anyone else in Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery.

Dr. Curt Connors lost his arm being a war hero and spent the next several years working on a serum that could regenerate limbs – not just for himself, but for all of humanity. When red tape held up the project, Connors offered up himself as the first test subject. Instead of being rewarded for his brave altruism, Connors started to occasionally transform into a gigantic, super-strong lizard-man.

Being the Lizard would go on to destroy Connors’s professional life, his personal life, and his family. At one point, it was discovered that his condition was causing his wife and son to experience radiation poisoning. His wife perished, and Billy went away to live with his sister. Later, during a particularly unhinged Lizard spell, Connors tracked Billy down and ate him.

It used to be that whenever he wasn’t the Lizard, Connors would go on with his life, trying to make the world a better place as a researcher and teacher. But over the years, being the Lizard broke Connors, to the point that he was ultimately more lizard than man – though he’s since experienced a bit of a bounce-back.

Curt Connors is an honest victim of tragic circumstances, and while that’s definitely been hard on him, it’s also exactly the sort of thing that goes over pretty well in cinema. 

8. Scorpion


Technically speaking, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has already cast Michael Mando as Mac Gargan, the former identity of the supervillain now known as the Scorpion. But aside from a cameo appearance in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Gargan has been shuffled off to the side, and that’s a shame because there’s plenty of unique ground to cover with this character.

Many modern-day villains arrive with a backstory designed to make them sympathetic to audiences. Mac Gargan is not that sort of villain. He started out as a sleazy private investigator, frustrated by his inability to suss out Spider-Man’s secret identity. So, he agrees to undergo experimental procedures, paid for by J. Jonah Jameson, that turn him into the Scorpion.

The experiment goes awry, Gargan goes a bit mad, and he blames Jameson for everything. But it isn’t long before he really falls into the supervillain lifestyle, to the point that he’s later given the opportunity to get out of the Scorpion role once and for all – and immediately becomes the next Venom.

Gargan didn’t need to break bad. He’s a person who already had questionable morals, who then got a taste of real power and liked that taste – and who has a custom, built-in reason to not feel any responsibility for his own actions. He’s more or less designed for amorality, which is a concept that hasn’t been explored too thoroughly in superhero cinema as of yet. Maybe it’s time for a bad guy that nobody likes. 

9. Jackal


The thing that people always forget is that Miles Warren, the notoriously clone-happy supervillain better known as the Jackal, didn’t start out obsessed with Spider-Man. His obsession was with Gwen Stacy, his student at Empire State University – who just so happened to be Spider-Man’s girlfriend.

Shortly after Gwen’s demise at the hands of the Green Goblin, a despondent Warren cracked the code to cloning, took the life of his lab partner, and began cloning human beings. He cloned both Gwen and her boyfriend, Peter Parker, whose clones all seemed to possess some sort of mysterious spider-powers. To help cope with the weight of his actions and to prepare for his inevitable conflict with Spider-Man, Warren started dressing up like a demon and calling himself “The Jackal.”

Of course, this kicked off the infamous Clone Saga – and no shortage of headaches for Spidey and his readers alike. But a Jackal solo film could avoid all that drama, and Spider-Man himself, by just focusing on the earliest stages of Warren’s origins.

Picture a psychological horror, a tale of a man with an obsession so desperate and pathetic that it drives him to acts of mad science. Picture a man almost immediately consumed by the ethical, procedural, and continuity-based consequences of cloning. The Jackal doesn’t need Spider-Man, because he’s already his own worst enemy. Watch the fall of Miles Warren – and the rise of The Jackal.