I am an entertainment enthusiast with six years of experience as an online pop culture writer.
Which Villains Made the Biggest Impact on Spider-Man?
There are plenty of lists like "Top 10 Best Spider-Man Villains," "Spider-Man’s Greatest Foes," and "Favorite Spider-Man Enemies" out on the internet. When it came time for me to make my top 10 list, I realized that I could not narrow it down to just 10. Spider-Man’s long career has had him face off against hundreds of bad guys. Attempting to narrow this down to just 10 was impossible.
Instead, I went about finding the 10 most influential Spider-Man enemies. These characters have had the biggest effect on Peter Parker’s life and caused major repercussions in Spider-Man’s overall storyline.
First Appearance: Silver Surfer #3
Real Name: Take your pick: Devil, Mephistopheles, Satan...
About: Mephisto is not the Devil but a demon with many similarities to the Christian belief in Satan. He is ruler of his own dimension, which he calls Hell or Hades, and has almost limitless power. I won’t go into a lot of detail because this guy is not a Spider-Man villain. He tangles with the Silver Surfer and Fantastic Four and is way out of Spider-Man’s league. However, for the purpose of this list, he had to be included.
Why Influential: Mephisto is literally responsible for changing Peter Parker’s whole reality. In the “One More Day” storyline, Mephisto gets Peter to sign a deal that brings his Aunt May back to life. To do this, Peter had to erase his marriage from existence. Peter and Mary Jane agreed to the contract, but MJ privately added terms that gave Peter’s secret identity back but altered both their timelines.
Apparently Peter and MJ’s pure love was important enough to have Mephisto get involved. (In case you can’t tell, I was not happy with this storyline, but reboots are always hard to sell to longtime fans of any hero.)
9. The Black Cat
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #194
Real Name: Felicia Hardy
About: While growing up, Felicia Hardy never knew her father was a burglar. When she found out years later, she decided to follow in her father’s criminal footsteps. She took up the identity of the Black Cat and would set up her crime scenes to appear as if she had bad luck powers. When her father was dying in prison, she wanted to break him out so he could live the remainder of his days as a free man.
Continuing her career as a cat burglar, the Black Cat would cross paths with Spider-Man on several occasions. She eventually developed a crush on Spider-Man and let her feeling for him be known. They had a shaky relationship because of her less-than-moral compass. When she was granted real bad luck powers by the Kingpin, things came to a head. Although she planned on breaking up with Peter, he did it first because he came to the realization that Felicia loved Spider-Man and not Peter Parker.
Felicia did not take being dumped well and caused a lot of problems for Peter and Mary Jane. She eventually made peace with them and set up a business to utilize her special skills called Cat’s Eye Private Investigations.
Why Influential: Catwoman—I mean the Black Cat makes this list because of her long and complicated romance with Spider-Man. This was never a healthy relationship but it did help Peter Parker grow as a person. He learned a lot about his Spider-Man/Peter Parker identity. This is a common struggle with many superheroes who must balance a personal life and continue to do what they know is right.
8. The Lizard
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #6
Real Name: Dr. Curtis Connors
About: Dr. Connors was Peter Parker’s teacher and would later develop a friendship with him. Dr. Connors lost an arm while fighting in a war and attempted to regrow it using lizard DNA. Rather than growing back a human arm, the serum transformed him into a giant lizard obsessed with turning the world into lizards like himself and ruling over them. The Lizard hates humanity and would end up killing his own son.
Connors is constantly trying to cure himself of the Lizard, and the Lizard is continually trying to break free. This Jekyll and Hyde story continues throughout Dr. Connors/Lizard character arc.
Why Influential: Having to battle a friend who is not in their right mind is tough. However, Harry Osborn already made the list because of that. The Lizard makes this list because of the positive influence Dr. Connors has had on Peter Parker’s life.
He helped save May Parker after a blood transfusion from her nephew Peter almost killed her. Dr. Connors was able to create an antidote that reverted Peter back to normal after Peter’s attempt at removing his spider powers gave him extra arms instead (oops). It was also Dr. Connors who was able to prove that Peter Parker was NOT a clone.
7. Dr. Octopus
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #3
Real Name: Otto Gunther Octavius
About: With an overbearing mother and abusive father, Otto did not have a good start in life. He pushed himself academically and became a brilliant scientist. His mother drove Otto’s fiancé away and then died when they were having an argument. This led to an obsession with work and disregard for safety protocols.
While immersed in work, an accident fused a chest harness he had invented to his body. With four mechanical arms and his own four limbs, he quickly took on the name Doctor Octopus. At first, the accident allowed him to telepathically control his mechanical arms but it was later discovered that he always had weak telepathic abilities.
Dr. Octavius called himself the Master Planner for a short period of time but quickly reverted back to his original alias as Doctor Octopus. Whatever the name, Doc Ock strove to prove his superior intelligence to the world. He is constantly scheming for more power. He has escalated gang wars, held a city for ransom, and made sure he is the only one who kills Spider-Man.
Why Influential: Dr. Octopus is one of Spider-Man’s oldest and most famous villains. With such a long history with the webslinger, it should come as no surprise that he would make this list. He was the one responsible for forming the Sinister Six, who have remained one of the greatest threats to Spider-Man’s safety. Doc Ock attempted to marry May Parker, so he could acquire a Canadian Nuclear power plant; having your greatest enemies marry the women who raised you can be a traumatic life event.
When Octavius was dying, he switched minds with Peter Parker and became Superior Spider-Man. Peter was trapped in Octavius’ body when he died, and Dr. Octopus became the new Spider-Man. Not only did he defeat Spider-Man, but he caused me to stop reading his comics. I look forward to the real Peter Parker’s return, so I can enjoy his stories once again.
6. Green Goblin
First Appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #31
Real Name: Harry Osborn
About: Harry and Peter first met at Empire State University. Although a series of miscommunications put them at odds with each other, they eventually became best friends. Peter was there for Harry during his famous drug addiction, and both have helped each other through difficult times. Sadly, the saying “Like father like son” is very true in the case of Harry and Norman Osborn.
Harry would also suffer from psychological issues. He became the Green Goblin and continued his father’s legacy. In his “last battle” with Spider-Man, he almost killed his own son. Harry regained his mental clarity and was able to save both his son and Peter before they were buried in fiery rubble but was killed himself. Norman’s death and most of his history after kicking his drug addiction were erased in the Brand New Day reboot. The cycle of friend and enemy are resumed once again.
Why Influential: Harry Osborn has not caused as much chaos in Peter’s life as his father, but he did affect him on a very personal level. Harry is one of Peter Parker’s oldest and dearest friends. A psychotic break caused Harry to take on the role of the Green Goblin and continue his father’s desire to destroy Spider-Man. Peter was forced to fight his sick friend in order to save his loved ones. While fighting he also had to save the man he was battling. Not an easy task, physically or mentally.
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #129
Real Name: Dr. Miles Warren
About: Dr. Miles Warren was Peter and Gwen Stacy’s science teacher at Empire State University. Warren became obsessed with Gwen, and when she was killed by the Green Goblin, he blamed Spider-Man. In order to extract his revenge, Dr. Warren became the Jackal. At first, he simply donned a costume filled with gadgets but eventually would genetically modify himself to become a human Jackal.
With his Ph.D. in biochemistry and tutoring under the High Evolutionary, the Jackal would employ clones as weapons. He created Carrion, Spider-Man clones, Gwen Stacy clones, and clones of himself. Much like Normal Osborn, Jackal descends deeper and deeper into madness. He has become so detached from reality that at one point the Jackal wanted to wipe out humanity and replaced them with clones.
Why Influential: The Jackal was instrumental in the Clone Saga. The numerous clones created by the Jackal have constantly caused Spider-Man trouble, but the creation of Kaine and Ben Reilly turned Peter Parker’s life upside down. This would be one of the longest storylines to run through all of the Spider-Man titles. Peter Parker had no idea who he was. His very identity and existence was called into question.
4. Alien Symbiote
First Appearance: Secret Wars #8/Amazing Spider-Man #252
Real Name: N/A
About: Spider-Man picked up the Alien Symbiote on Battleworld during the Secret Wars when his costume costume was destroyed during a fight. Not realizing it was a sentient alien, Peter took the “costume” back to earth with him. After discovering its true nature, Peter was able to separate himself from the Symbiote with the aid of the Fantastic Four.
After failing to bond with Peter Parker, the alien found Eddie Brock and joined with him to create one of Spider-Man’s strongest enemies. When the Symbiote broke Eddie out of prison it had spawned, and left its offspring behind to bond with the crazy serial killer Cletus Kasady. While Eddie Brock is its most famous host, it has also bonded with Angelo Fortunato, Mac Gargan, Ms. Marvel, Ann Weying, and Flash Thompson.
Why Influential: This spot was originally reserved for Venom, but then it occurred to me that it was the Alien Symbiote acting as a suit that has had the bigger influence in Spider-Man’s life. It was the Symbiote who took Peter’s body on midnight crime fighting sprees as it tried to meld to his body. It was the Symbiote who gave Eddie Brock super powers and information to help destroy Peter Parker’s life. It was the Symbiote who spawned Carnage, creating one of the worst serial killers the world has ever seen.
3. Green Goblin
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #14
Real Name: Norman Osborn
About: As a small child, Norman Osborn was scarred by his father. With questionable morals Norman would stop at nothing for money and power. He experimented on his own employees to test a super serum. One batch exploded in his face and endowed him with not only super strength but also intelligence. The chemicals caused Norman to have a mental breakdown and a split personality. Taking on his childhood fear of a green monster, Norman created the Green Goblin identity to take over the criminal underworld.
Through the years, Norman has descended deeper into madness and assumed several identities in his attempts at gaining power. His thirst for power has expanded beyond Spider-Man and affected the entire Marvel Universe. At one point he even lead an invasion against Asgard. No matter how grand Norman reaches for power, he always keeps his obsession with destroying Spider-Man close to his heart.
Why Influential: When it comes to shattering Peter Parker’s life over the years, Norman Osborn is king. Since Uncle Ben’s death, Peter has suffered challenges and setbacks, but it would not be until the Green Goblin killed Gwen Stacy that he would experience another tragedy. Osborn was the one who manipulated the whole Clone Saga and confused everybody on who was the real Peter Parker.
Norman tricked Peter and Mary Jane into believing their unborn child had died during birth, when in fact Osborn had kidnapped the baby (A huge storyline that got dropped.). He also fooled everyone into believing Aunt May had passed away in Amazing Spider-Man #300.
2. J.J. Jameson
First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #1
Real Name: John Jonah Jameson Jr.
About: J. J. is the chief editor and publisher of the Daily Bugle. For many years, Jameson used pictures Peter Parker took of Spider-Man to help in his anti-Spiderman PR campaign. Although his hatred for Spider-Man has blinded him to any good the web crawler might accomplish, he is fiercely loyal to his employees. Despite his gruff demeanor, he feels a close bond to Peter Parker.
J.J. Jameson's hatred for Spider-Man has pushed him beyond negative headlines. He would pay Mac Gargan to test a genetic enhancement procedure designed by Dr. Stillwell. The results turned Gargan into the Scorpion, who not only became a deadly enemy to Spider-Man but joined the ranks of supervillains. Jameson worked with Spencer Smythe and helped fund his Spider-Slayer. The destruction caused by the Spider-Slayer did not stop Jameson in his quest to destroy the masked vigilante Spider-Man.
Why Influential: No one in Spider-Man’s history has had more influence on his public image than J. J. Jameson. He has used the Daily Bugle to wage a personal war on Spider-Man. He looks for every opportunity to discredit our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man and make sure the public views him as a masked menace.
While Spider-Man is out fighting for the city, thanks to J. J. Jameson, many times the people he is trying to protect see him as a bigger threat than the villains he is defending them against. Jameson getting elected to public office has not helped Spider-Man either.
1. The Burglar
First Appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15
Real Name: Carradine?
About: The first time Peter Parker came across the unnamed Burglar, he let him escape. Later that night, the same Burglar who Spider-Man let escape murdered his Uncle Ben. This forever changed the course of Peter Parker’s life.
Years later, we discovered it was not a random coincidence that brought the Burglar to Peter’s house. When he was released from prison, the Burglar bought Aunt May’s house in an attempt of find a treasure hidden by the gangster Dutch Mallone. Spider-Man once again faced off against the Burglar. This time the Burglar was so terrified that he died of a heart attack. The Burglar’s last words were a request for Spider-Man to apologize to the family of the man he killed all those years ago.
Although the name of the Burglar has remained a mystery since his introduction, it was revealed that he has a daughter named Jessica Carradine. Whether Carradine is his last name remains a mystery.
Why Influential: The unnamed Burglar is the reason there is a Spider-Man swinging around the city to fight crime, rather than a famous Spider-Man getting rich from entertaining crowds. When the burglar killed Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, he not only started our Hero’s journey but cemented the mantra "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility."
- Reading way too many Spider-Man comics.
If you enjoyed this article, check out my other article about our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man: "Top 10 Spider-Man Costumes."
Geekdom (author) on November 09, 2012:
That is what I thought about Harry. Thank you for clearing confirming that for us.
Your comments are always appreciated.
Vic on November 09, 2012:
Interesting hub, and I could see "the burglar" as the most influential villain of Spidey's entire lore. Good call on that. Harry Osborne did not take up the identity of the Hobgoblin. Harry was the second Green Goblin. Great hub, voted up and awesome!
Geekdom (author) on November 08, 2012:
I know that Harry fought the Hobgoblin because he had stolen his father's "toys". I am unaware of him ever taking on the Hobgoblin Identity. However, there are A LOT of Spider-Man stories and maybe something happened during one of my hiatuses. I usually take them when history from Spider-Man is erased or severely altered.
j-matlock from Somewhere. on November 08, 2012:
Great hub. Yeah I was a little disappointed when I didn't see Venom, but you definitely made the right choice by going with the Symbiote.
When I first saw #1 as "The Burglar", I was highly confused, but again I understood and it was the right decision.
The only thing I had a question about though, was that I thought Harry's version of the Green Goblin was the Hob Goblin? But I've been wrong before...
Anyway, awesome hub, voted up and well, awesome.