Comic Book: Doctor Octopus
Dr. Otto Gunther Octavius, also known as Doctor Octopus, is a fictional supervillain that has appeared in comic books published by Marvel Comics
. He first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man
#3 (July, 1963), created by writer Stan Lee
and artist Steve Ditko
A highly intelligent Mad Scientist
, Doctor Octopus is one of the greatest foes Spider-Man
has ever faced. He is typically portrayed as a stocky, myopic man who utilizes four powerful, mechanical appendages and is obsessed with proving his own genius and destroying Spider-Man (and not necessarily in that order). The character has appeared in numerous Spider-Man cartoons and video games and is portrayed by Alfred Molina
in the 2004 film Spider-Man 2
as the film's main antagonist. In 2009, Doctor Octopus was ranked as IGN's 28th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.
Born in Schenectady, New York, Otto Octavius had something of an unhappy childhood. His father, Torbert, was abusive and violent towards both Otto and his mother Mary. Otto was determined not to become like his father and put all his effort into his education, regularly scoring top marks. Unfortunately, a combination of Otto's shyness and good school work got him labeled as a "teacher's pet" and he became a target of bullying. Otto eventually became a brilliant and respected nuclear physicist, atomic research consultant, inventor, and lecturer. One of his most iconic inventions was a set of highly advanced mechanical arms controlled via a mind–computer interface to assist him with his research into atomic physics. Unfortunately, there was an accidental radiation leak that ended in an explosion and those wonderful mechanical arms became fused to Octavius' body.
The accident also seemed to have damaged his brain and the scientist turned to a life of crime. His very first criminal act was taking the hospital hostage and proclaiming himself Doctor Octopus, the derogatory nickname that his co-workers had originally given him. In their first encounter, Octopus defeated Spider-Man by tossing him out of a window. Following this defeat Spider-Man considered giving up his heroic career, but was inspired to continue his heroic career by the Human Torch and ultimately defeated Doctor Octopus. Since then the Good (or Bad) Doctor has gone on to become one of the most identifiable members of Spider-Man's rogues gallery. He was actually Spider-Man's first Arch-Enemy
, especially during the early days before Norman Osborn
began rising to prominence. He formed the first Sinister Six
to fight Spider-Man. He was the villain for one of spidey's most iconic early arcs as "the Master Planner". And he was indirectly responsible for the death of Gwen Stacy's father George.After years of fighting Spider-Man
, his body began to succumb to the injuries he had sustained over the years
. As a way to prevent his death, Otto switched bodies with Peter Parker
. Before dying in Otto's body, Peter urged Otto to change for good and succeed the Spider-Man mantle with his last breaths. Otto complied, swearing to become better and a more superior hero
, resulting a more brutal, but still trying-to-be-heroic Spider-Man. Unfortunately, he found himself slowly slipping back into evil
, starting with his attempted erasure of a fragment of Peter Parker's soul and Jumping Off the Slippery Slope
from there. He eventually had a Heel Realization
that he was doing more harm than good by the time Peter's soul fragment came Back from the Dead
, and relinquished control of Peter's body, erasing his own consciousness as penance
. As Otto died, he told Peter that Peter was a better Spider-Man and a better person
than Otto (the self-proclaimed Superior Successor
) could ever hope to be.
This villain provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: His father was an alcoholic Jerkass, his mother was My Beloved Smother.
- Acrofatic: Otto's on the pudgy side, but with his tentacles he can really get around.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: Usually sports short brown hair but in the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series he sports long black hair.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In some continuities, in particular Sam Raimi's trilogy, his tentacles contain an advanced AI that influences him.
- Alliterative Name: Both his first and last names begin with "O".
- An Arm and a Leg: After putting the Black Cat in the hospital, Spider-Man was so consumed with rage, he tore Ock's metal arms off.
- Affably Evil: In the first annual, he kidnapped Betty Brant and Aunt May Parker, and then gave them tea and cookies while apologizing for neglecting his guests.
- He also once rented a room from Aunt May and behaved like a perfect gentleman, even helping her around the house. He also came very near to marrying her after she somehow inherited a nuclear plant.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: As his moniker suggests, octopi. And later, spiders.
- Appropriated Appellation: Doctor Octopus was originally an insulting nickname given to Otto by his co-workers, and in some continuities, Norman Osborn.
- Arch-Enemy: He competes heavily with Norman Osborn in this regard to Spider-Man. Octavius is the first villain to defeat Spider-Man, the first villain to take up an entire issue, the first villain to get his own two-part story, leader of the Sinister Six. Had the role during most of the original Stan Lee run and for most of the hiatus when Norman Osborn was thought dead (whenever the Jackal, Hobgoblin, or Venom didn't have the role).
- Artificial Limbs: Well, he attached four cybernetic arms of questionable morality to his spine.
- Back from the Dead: Kaine murdered him at one point in the 90's, but he was resurrected by the Hand with the help of Carolyn Trainer and Angelina Brancale.
- Badass: This guy beat up the Hulk once. (Well, to be fair, he was using a special set of tentacles at the time made of adamantium.). He also defeated Iron Man once and has managed to deflect a shield throw by Captain America and catch a billy club thrown by Daredevil. This is before we get into the obvious fact that he regularly fights Spider-Man.
- Badass Normal: Doctor Octopus himself is portly, in poor physical shape, near-sighted and doesn't actually have any superpowers himself. However, he can more than hold his own with his mechanical arms. He's also very good with planning and strategy and usually has some nasty tech to even the odds.
- Badass Bookworm: He's a nuclear physicist and skilled roboticist.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: He was almost always seen in a white suit in the early-mid 90s.
- Empowered Badass Normal: After becoming Superior Spider-man, he has now brawn to match his brains.
- Bad Boss: Could easily have been the Trope Namer for Insufferable Genius, given the way he treats his henchmen, as well as when he's the leader of the Sinister Six (or his short term as leader of the Masters of Evil).
- Blind Without 'Em: He sometimes has this problem. In his first debut he was near-sighted before the accident but depending on the continuity (and Depending on the Writer) it's sometimes considered a side-effect of the accident that gave him his powers. (In one min-series, he claims that the accident made his eyes sensitive to light, requiring him to wear shaded glasses.)
- Brains: Evil; Brawn: Good: The various versions of Doc Ock tend to have an edge on Spider-Man in terms of brainpower and the various versions of Spider-Man have an edge on him in strength, agility, etc...
- Calling the Old Man Out: After his widowed mother makes him break things off with his fiancee, so he can take care of her instead, he catches her getting ready to go on a date. He calls her out for her hypocrisy, and as this is pretty much the first time in his life he's ever stood up to her, it gives her a fatal heart attack. All of these emotional problems weighing on him is why he doesn't notice the radiation accident until it's too late.
- The Chessmaster: One of his aliases is Master Planner for a reason.
- Civvie Spandex: His costume has traditionally consisted of a lab coat or sometimes just a plain suit. But during the 70's and 80's he wore green spandex on occasion, but otherwise, he stuck to civvies.
- Combat Tentacles: Four cybernetic artificial limbs. He's had multiple versions.
- Cool Shades: Due to him being myopic.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Averted in most of his incarnations: He was a scientist who invented and used his arms for legitimate research purposes. It took a lab accident fusing the arms to his body and driving him insane to turn him into a supervillain.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: After having the tentacles fused to his spine he turned evil.
- Cyborg: The tentacles and their harness are fused to his body.
- Depending on the Writer: Much like Doctor Doom, Otto can be a Noble Demon Anti-Villain in one story and a remorseless mass-murdering psychopath in another. Case in point, in 2002 both Paul Jenkins and J. Michael Straczynski (writing the titles "Spectacular Spider-Man" and "Amazing Spider-Man", respectively, both part of the mainstream canon) did a story with Ock as the villain; the latter has Ock pursuing a vendetta against an amoral corporate yuppie who stole his tech, but shows Otto going out of his way to save civilians (then leaving Spider-Man to die, because "you're not a civilian") and suggests what he really wants is legitimate scientific and business success; the former portrays him as an utterly ruthless Manipulative Bastard professional criminal motivated entirely by ego and Greed who, in the words of Spidey, (doesn't) care enough about anyone enough to hate them, Ock responding with a "touché" before savagely beating on Spidey (remarking he's an exception). His hatred of Spider-Man is the one consistent character trait, but otherwise he could be saving the innocent one minute and trying to kill all life on Earth out of spite the next.
- Devil in Plain Sight: Aunt May can't seem to understand why the police would want to arrest such a nice man.
- Diagnosis From Dr. Badass: When he recalled his first fight with Spider-Man:
"...with a punch that, by my best estimate, was over twelve hundred foot-pounds. That, Dr. Louis, would be my first case of traumatic brain injury."
- Disastrous Demonstration: He had some problems during his new invention's demonstration, which sets him on the path to become a supervillain. The movie Spider-Man 2 carried over this element of his origin-story.
- The Dragon: Some stories show him as this to Norman Osborn.
- Evil Counterpart: To Peter, on the scale of being a scientist, using smarts for evil purposes and being based on an eight-legged creature. The biggest difference between the two is that Otto had a couple decades of cynicism ground into him before getting his powers.
- Evil Cripple: Years of super-powered fights have taken a toll on his body.
- Evil Genius: A definite poster boy of this trope. Hell, in The Spectacular Spider-Man he drinks out of a coffee mug with this label on it.
- Evil Is Hammy: At times he will demonstrate that he is enjoying being mean profusely ("Find him. Or I'll peel the flesh off her bones...")
- Evil Mentor: To both Carolyn Trainer (aka Lady Octopus) and Angelina Brancale (aka Stunner) two of the very small number of people to show Undying Loyalty to him.
- Evil Versus Oblivion: In The Sentry miniseries, as the heroes are gathered to stop the Void, Spider-Man notices Doctor Octopus lined up with them. Dialogue goes something like this:
Spider-Man: Doc Ock? What are you doing here?
Doctor Octopus: We need to stop the Void or else it'll destroy the world. Once this is over, next time I see you I'll kill you.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Doc Ock was very much a momma's boy growing up. However, as a grown man he came to the conclusion that she had been coddling him, even while accepting that his dad was a drunken asshole.
- Extra Ore Dinary: His Ultimate Marvel counterpart, who is eventually revealed to have the ability to psychically manipulate metal. This means that, even though his tentacles get surgically removed, he can recreate them from ambient metal if he wants to.
- Fallen Hero: He used to do experiments for the sake of bettering mankind and then he discovered first-hand how Cybernetics Eat Your Soul.
- Fat Bastard: At first and later depending on the artist.
- For Want of a Nail: A What If? story suggested that, if the radioactive spider had bitten Flash Thompson instead of Peter Parker, Peter would have averted Otto Octavius' Start of Darkness.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: He wears glasses because he's myopic.
- Freak Lab Accident: His origin story, which is another similarity he shares with Peter Parker.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: That timid researcher and Momma's Boy has come a long way in terms of badass.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Both as a villain and an Anti-Hero.
- Glass Cannon: If Spidey can get past the tentacles, it usually doesn't take much to knock him out.
- Guess Who I'm Marrying?: Doc Ock was actually marrying May because she was the heir to a private nuclear reactor. He didn't even realize that Spider-Man was her nephew until after he unmasked in Civil War. Brilliantly, he then went into a rant about how stupid he was not to figure it out and how he should have kept up the marriage facade for far longer.
- Heel Face Door Slam: Prior to the Death of Spiderman in the Ultimate Universe, he tries to back out of the Green Goblin's latest scheme, declaring he always wanted to be a scientist not a villain, he wants to go back to science, and he'd rather take pride in the fact it was his genetic engineering experiments with spiders that ultimate created Spider-man. The Green Goblin promptly kills him.
- Hero-Worshipper: In Spider-Man/Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure, he claims to idolize Leonardo da Vinci, and was inspired to invent his tentacles by DaVinci's famous Vitruvian Man pencil sketch.
- Herr Doktor: In the 1990's animated series and the Spider-Man video game he has a thick German accent (he was voiced by Efrem Zimbalist Jr. in both; that's right—Doctor Octopus is Alfred).
- It Only Works Once: Doc Ock has a tendency to learn from his mistakes and to come up with effective counter-measures for Spidey's tricks. For example, after being blinded with a squirt of webbing he started treating his glasses with a non-stick coating.
- Joker Immunity: Let's see, he has been resurrected once and had his mind transferred into Spider-Man's body. He is apparently really dead now that his body is in rigor mortis and his consciousness has been erased.
- Knight of Cerebus: He's got little to no comedic quirks and he is the first villain to actually beat Spider-Man. Whenever he shows up you know things are about to get nasty.
- Living with the Villain: So, Aunt May decides to rent out a free room in the Parker household. Who moves in? Doc Ock of, course! What happens next? He hits on Aunt May and nearly gives Peter a heart attack in the process.
- Mad Scientist: Wasn't one to begin with but he had a lot of repressed feelings and then there was this accident...
- Made of Iron: Averted. He's often had to create armor due to the incredible damage he has taken because, when all is said and done, he is still an ordinary man.
- Momma's Boy: As his dad was abusive, he bonded more with his mother.
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Actually, he does hold at least one real doctorate (but not in medicine).
- Multi-Armed and Dangerous: His claim to infamy is his four mechanical arms.
- New Tech Is Not Cheap: He's had to rob banks before because that equipment he uses is not cheap.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: He had a doctorate in Nuclear Physics originally. The Ultimate version seems to have replaced this with genetics.
- Phlebotinum-Handling Equipment: What his tentacles were originally designed for.
- Pet the Dog: He has gotten a few pet the dog moments over the decades, including trying to save Aunt May from Hammerhead and trying to develop a cure for AIDS in order to save his ex-girlfriend.
- Reality Ensues: What happens when a human without any kind of enhanced durability spends years getting into super-battles? The result isn't pretty.
- Shadow Archetype: He is what Spider-Man could have easily have become if he let his powers go to his head. Much more so when he actually becomes Spider-Man.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Starting when he formed the second version of the Sinister Six, he got rid of his original costume in favor of expensive Italian suits; these lasted until his death and later resurrection by the Hand.
- Spider Limbs: His tentacles, of course.
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: Gets a lampshade hung on it by J. Jonah Jameson:
"Guy named Otto Octavius winds up with eight limbs. What are the odds?"
- Sunglasses at Night: He's rarely seen without them.
- Technopath: One of Marvel's latest trends is to attribute this power to Doc Ock.
- Took a Level in Badass: Two words: adamantium tentacles. He beat the Hulk unconscious. He gave Iron Man such a thrashing he considered retirement, setting him up as a villain who can hang with the big guns.
- Villain over for Dinner: At one point, Aunt May was dating him and they nearly got married. Right now he even supplies the page image for this trope.
- Villain Team-Up: Octavius is often the leader, and in some continuities the founder, of the Sinister Six.
- He has also led at least one version of the The Avengers villain team, Masters of Evil.
- Worthy Opponent: While he despises Spider-Man and is obsessed with defeating him, Octavious nonetheless appreciates that Spidey is highly intelligent and respects him as a formidable enemy.
- In the Ultimate Universe, part of what prompts him to try and give up on villainy is because he decides Spider-Man is so impressive that he ought to be proud of having created him, even if by accident.