Spider-Man has been around since The '60s, and Spidey has faced many foes. However, a few members of Spidey's Rogues Gallery stand out. Here are the worst villains to inhabit the pages of the comic. For each category, examples are published by order of appearance/publication date.
- Examples from animated works can be found here.
- Examples from films can be found here (for Venom (2018)) and here (for Spider-Man: Far From Home).
- Examples from literature can be found here.
- Spider-Man (Japan) can be found here.
- Examples from video games can be found here.
- Examples from the Ultimate Universe and from the What If? series can be found here.
- Norman Osborn: Best known as the Green Goblin, Norman, one of Spider-Man's long-time arch-foes, came to infamy after he threw Spider-Man's girlfriend Gwen Stacy to her death as the Goblin. Seemingly killed afterwards, Norman would resurface in the 1990s, where he totally excised himself of any redeeming traits and became one of Spidey's most monstrous enemies. Through his manipulations, Norman has caused the death of countless people, orchestrating The Clone Saga while burying Peter's Aunt May alive and even murdering Spider-Man's clone Ben Reilly with his glider simply to hurt his nemesis. After this, Norman's streak of evil would continue including founding the Dark Avengers and keeping them in line through horrid abuse. As the Green Goblin, Norman regularly caused countless amounts of death and destruction and even tried to replicate what he had done to Gwen with Spider-Man's new girlfriend, Mary Jane Watson. As the Goblin King, Norman put himself on top of a vast criminal syndicate while crushing all of his opposition and vowing to Otto Octavius to kill everything he considered precious to him during the latter's time as the Superior Spider-Man. As himself, Norman attempted to murder his own son to earn public sympathy; triggered a war with Asgard by having the U-Foes attack Asgardian warrior Volstaag in a football stadium, resulting in thousands of casualties; and, infusing himself with the Carnage symbiote to become the Red Goblin, Norman attempts to destroy everything Peter loves, manipulates and bonds the symbiote to his own grandson Normie, and kills Flash Thompson to spite his archenemy even further.
- Carnage: Cletus Kasady was a prolific Serial Killer even before he bonded with a bloodthirsty alien symbiote and took the name of Carnage. As a child, he killed his grandmother and pet dog; tortured his mother; killed the headmaster of his orphanage with a lead pipe before burning the orphanage down; and pushed a girl he had a crush on in front of a bus because she rejected him. As Carnage, he became one of the worst enemies of both Spider-Man and Venom, with only those two preventing him from killing thousands more during his rampages through New York. During the Maximum Carnage event, Carnage created a "family" of fellow super villains, using their powers to drive New York into homicidal insanity and to capture his "father" Venom, in whose captivity Carnage subjected to horrible torture. Not even his own family was safe from Carnage's psychosis, as he brutalized his "wife" Shriek for ignoring his instructions before murdering their "son" Doppelganger when he tried defending her. Reaching his greatest depth of depravity thus far once the HeelFace Brainwashing of AXIS wore off, Carnage raises the Elder God Chthon, from his ancient slumber, intent on watching as Chthon slaughtered all of mankind and allowed Carnage to bathe in the blood of billions. Carnage has a habit of returning from death, always nastier than before, and, despite a twisted sense of humor, the intense evil of Kasady and the symbiote together results in one of Peter Parker's most murderous enemies, one who enjoys killing simply for fun.
- "Perceptions" arc (March 1991-July 1991, by Todd Mc Farlane et al.; featuring Wolverine): Krahn is a Chief Inspector of the RCMP, as well as a pedophilic Serial Killer who has abducted, raped, and murdered countless young boys throughout British Columbia. When a benevolent Wendigo unearths the remains of one of his victims, Krahn blames the beast for the murder and exacerbates hysteria over it by leaking details of the case to the public, sparking panicked riots and misguided acts of vigilantism that result in the death of at least one innocent hunter. To keep the charade going, Krahn kidnaps and kills another boy, letting dogs gnaw on him in order to make it look like the child was mauled by the Wendigo. Later getting together a posse, Krahn sets out to slay the Wendigo, which will calm the public and allow him to resume molesting and killing children under more optimal conditions.
- Spider-Man's Tangled Web: "The Coming of the Thousand" (issues 1-3, by Garth Ennis et al.): Carl King, a.k.a. the Thousand, is a particularly vicious childhood tormentor of Peter Parker who happened to be at the demonstration where the latter was bitten by the certain radioactive spider. He quickly put two-and-two together and decided to get spider-powers of his own by eating said spider. Instead, he was transformed into a colony of a thousand oversized spiders with the ability to crawl into a human body, eat the host's organs, musculature, and bones from the inside out, and wear their skin like a suit, mimicking both the victim's mannerisms and voice. The first person Carl "possessed" in this fashion was his own mother; the second, who he killed intentionally and for no reason, was his father, and the imagery implies that he killed his dad after having sex with him. Since then, he has come to the conclusion that he should have been Spider-Man rather than puny Parker, and has gone through around a dozen bodies every year, several of which were children, in order to become strong enough to overpower Spidey and steal both his body and his life.
- JMS' Spider-Man (June 2002-August 2002): "Shade", real name Jacob "Jake" Nash, is a criminal who betrayed his cultist cellmate Richard Cranston to steal his ritual that enables access to the Astral Plane. When the ritual was tampered with, Shade gained the abilities of phase shifting and super strength, and began accessing the physical plane by trapping innocents inside the Astral Plane and feeding off their life energy—most often runaway or homeless children—and then uses his time on the physical realm to commit crimes and hire himself out to gang members. When Spider-Man demands to know why Shade is subjecting hundreds of people to the terrible torment of the Astral Plane prison he has constructed, Shade smirks and proclaims "Just for kicks".
- Spider-Man/Black Cat: The Evil That Men Do: "Mr. Brownstone", Garrison Klum, is a sociopathic drug dealer with a nasty drive to dominate all those he sees. Having murdered his own mother in youth when his ability to teleport liquids manifested, Garrison continuously molested and raped his own little brother, Francis, on a regular basis through childhood and into teen years. Once discovering that Francis too had powers, Garrison began combining their abilities in a huge scheme to make themselves rich by supplying drugs to the rich and powerful by teleporting the drugs directly into their bloodstream, thus eliminating any physical evidence of drug usage. Continuing to molest Francis at his leisure, Garrison also is known to regularly use his powers to inject paralyzing drugs into people, then rape them, with his main targets being young women and teenage boys. After avoiding an assassination attempt by a rival drug gang, Garrison injects drugs directly into their hearts, killing the entire gang plus the leader's wife with a smile on his face, and uses this same method to kill two customers of his to silence them. When his body count draws the attention of the Black Cat, Garrison paralyzes her with drugs, then attempts to rape and murder her, and continue his rise to becoming the most powerful man in New York.
- Spider-Verse (2014): Solus, father of the Inheritors, transformed himself into a life-devouring monster and then turned his own family as well. Conquering his own Earth, Solus seeks multiversal domination by sending the Inheritors to devour countless "Spider-Totem" users, resulting in the deaths of a multitude of heroes. A monstrous tyrant, Solus has some of the users abducted to be devoured by his family in macabre banquets and even attempts to sacrifice young Benjy Parker to summon the ultimate Totem. Having no care for the children he has made into monsters, Solus leads them into battle to massacre all the Spider Totem warriors during Spider-Geddon, intending on devouring and dominating all they find in their path.
Other Earth-616 Characters
- Dr. Thaddeus Paine, having lost all tactile sensation from an experimental anesthesia, develops a sick fascination with pain and the limits the human body can be pushed to. Debuting in issue #4 of Morbius: The Living Vampire, Paine kidnaps dozens of innocents to subject them to horrific experimentation, vivisection, and torture, all without anesthesia, keeping their hacked-up bodies alive, conscious, and begging for death within his laboratory. Paine sees Morbius's physiology as prime fodder for his study, and even forces Morbius to watch him hack up a captive's brain, later musing on how beautiful he is as the enraged Morbius cuts apart his faculty. Reestablishing himself in Long Island in Venom: The Hunger, Paine continues to experiment on people, including Eddie Brock, subjecting him to weeks of torture and using him to lure the Venom symbiote into his clutches—and when finally defeated by having the phenethylamine sucked out of his brain, ends his run converging on his wounded staff to start devouring their brains in a fit of insanity. Of all of Marvel's minor villains, Paine stands out as one of the most viscerally vile on record, with even Morbius stating "never have I seen a creature which more needed killing than you."
- Agent Venom: Crime Master, Bennett Brant, is the Big Bad of the first half of this series. Originally thought to be killed in The Silver Age over some gambling debts, Bennett was actually taken in by a criminal organization who chose him to become the new Crime Master. Starting his reign of terror by kidnapping a psychotic child on Halloween, Crime Master teaches the boy to kill, convinces him to to kill his own parents, and raises him as his new assassin, Jack O'Lantern V. Desiring to become a major crime boss, Crime Master then becomes an Arms Dealer. He hires a scientist to weaponize some Antarctic Vibranium, but the scientist double crosses him and uses the Vibranium to commit genocide in his home land. Crime Master is unhappy about his property being used without his permission, but is pleased to see his product in action and to get the free advertising. He sends Jack to capture the scientist, allowing him to kill innocent bystanders in the process. Believing that promoting chaos is good for his business, Crime Master wants to repeat scenes of horror such as this across the globe in order to make a profit. When Agent Venom, Flash Thompson, defeats Jack, Crime Master desires to control him. He has Jack kidnap Betty, Flash's girlfriend—and Brant's own sister, whom he has a twisted obsession with—and straps her to a bomb, only promising to release her if Venom delivers some Vibranium to him—a promise he quickly reneges on. He forces Flash to get the Toxin symbiote for him so that he can merge it with Eddie Brock and create a new super-powered minion. After Venom tries to assassinate the Crime Master, he orders his underlings to kill all of Flash's friends and family.
- Donny Cates' Venom: Knull, the God of Symbiotes, predates almost all existence. Despising the light of existence, Knull warred with the gods and consumed entire worlds before creating the symbiotes and loosing them on civilizations to devour them, killing countless billions. Eventually betrayed and sealed off by his own "children", Knull returns and attempts to torture Eddie Brock's symbiote to relieve it of any honor and nobility, intending on recovering his old power and resuming his mission of devouring all life-starting by consuming everyone and everything on Earth.
- Spider-Man: The Manga (1970-1971, illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami): Kangaroo, from issues 7-9, is a bloodthirsty, brutish American wrestler with super strength that he abuses with absolute glee. After being blacklisted by his home country's wrestling association for the way he'd horrifically brutalize his opponents, Kangaroo travels to Japan to extend his special brand of cruelty to the locals. Landing on Spider-Man's radar by brutalizing four Japanese wrestlers, Kangaroo proceeds to cause chaos all over the city by assaulting people, stealing, and inciting panic among the masses. After stealing a canister of highly lethal bacteria with the power to kill thousands of innocent people should it go airborne, Kangaroo uses it as a shield to gain an edge over Spider-Man in combat. Once bested by Spidey, a smug Kangaroo decides to fling the canister to the ground which, had it not been for Spider-Man's intervention, would have condemned thousands to die, purely out of rage and spite towards the masses for hating him. Despite appearing before the comic's infamous Darker and Edgier tone shift, Kangaroo stands out as being among the most heinous foes that this incarnation of Spider-Man has fought, even causing Spidey to temporarily quit crime-fighting out of fear of becoming as bad as Kangaroo.
- Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man: Lex Luthor himself proves to be the most evil version of the character ever seen in the Pre-Crisis continuity. Initially content with causing mayhem across Metropolis for the purpose of luring Superman out, Lex eventually allies with Doctor Octopus and teams up to ostensibly threaten the world with a weather machine. Kidnapping Lois Lane and Mary Jane as leverage and hypnotizing a tribesman to act as the unwilling, murderous guardian of his secret lair in the process, Lex finally reveals the absolute depth of his wickedness when he reveals he simply intends to use the weather machine to annihilate the entire planet as the culmination of his black ambition, gloating that even after his plan is sabotaged he's still doomed the Atlantic Coast to a tidal wave. Beholden to none of Luthor's more honorable traits here, Lex ultimately attempts to destroy all humanity out of petty spite for never recognizing his genius, horrifying even Doc Ock with how far he'll sink to hurt Superman.
- Spider-Man 2099: Vulture 2099 is one of the vilest of villains Spidey had to face in the 2099 era. After saving Spider-Man from members of the Public Eye, Vulture offers Spider-Man membership in his gang, the Freakers. However Spider-Man soon discovers that the Vulture is a cannibal. Vulture killed the Public Eye officers chasing Spider-Man and cooked them up for dinner. Disgusted, Spider-Man refuses to join the Vulture's gang and Vulture attacks him. While Spider-Man is fighting Vulture, Spider-Man discovers Vulture's meat locker, containing several corpses on meat hooks that Vulture intended to eat later. After his initial defeat Vulture later returned and convinced a group of Thorites, a group that worships Thor to have a Spiderite, a group that worships Spider-Man burned alive. In his last appearance, Vulture discovers that Spider-Man is Miguel O'Hara and attempts to murder one of his friends. After Spider-Man foils Vulture, he sets off several bombs at the Alchemax building—Miguel is a high-level employee at Alchemax—intending to destroy it and not caring how many civilians are in the building.
- Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds: Carnage and Joker are Ax-Crazy as usual:
- Cletus "Carnage" Kasady, much like his mainstream counterpart, is a killing-obsessed lunatic driven by sadism. Heavily implied by the narrative to have been the crook who murdered the Wayne parents, Carnage opens the comic being implanted with a microchip alongside the Joker that will "cure" him of his insanity after his latest killing spree. Revealed to have faked his "recovery", Carnage brutally maims several innocents to distract Batman and Spider-Man while he kidnaps the Joker, destroying the clown's microchip and proposing a partnership. This doesn't last long, as Carnage attempts to murder the Joker after a difference of opinion on how to hurt the city of Gotham best. Capturing Batman, Carnage reveals his plan to simply slaughter each and every innocent in Gotham one by one so as to bask in their screams and fear, and attempts to kick off his massacre by killing Batman on live television for all of Gotham to see and despair at. Carnage was utter madman who rejoiced in his "black heart" and depravity, and who wanted nothing more than to butcher every thing in sight.
- The Joker, as usual, is a theatrical sadist who contrasts Carnage's wanton bloodlust with concentrated, depraved flourish, and is possibly the one who murdered Spider-Man's Uncle Ben. Introducing himself in the comic by attempting to unleash a swarm of poisoned bats to drive all of Gotham to fatal insanity, Joker is eventually subdued and briefly controlled under the influence of a microchip that suppresses his insanity. Once freed from the chip's influence by Carnage, Joker initially takes up Carnage on his offer of a partnership, intending to have hundreds of needy children around Gotham horribly killed by his poisoned "presents". Once Carnage turns on Joker for his difference in opinion, Joker attempts to kill him and eventually resolves to release his insanity virus on Gotham anyways, solely to stick it to Carnage for invading on his turf.
- Spider-Man Unlimited: In the tie-in comic book to the animated series, the Chameleon is a monstrous Beastial capable of changing his appearance to those he has murdered. To use this to his advantage, Chameleon systematically stalks and murders over a dozen innocent people, then uses their identities to commit crimes. After being stopped by Spider-Man during a bank robbery that nearly leaves several people dead, Chameleon boasts his plans to ruin Spider-Man's name and crush the hope of his people by framing Spider-Man for the killings. Even in a world of dictators and monstrous symbiotes, the Chameleon stood out as a vile Serial Killer who disgusted Spider-Man more than any other villain he encountered.
- Spider-Man J: In this 2004-2005 manga by Yamanaka Akira, General Wasperus is the vicious, arrogant second-in-command of the mysterious Lord Beastius's forces. Tasked with enslaving millions of Tokyo's citizens, Wasperus uses creations of his own, called Stealth Bees, which latch on to their hosts and turn them into prisoners of their own mind, aware and helpless while Wasperus is free to use them as soldiers and as slaves to carry out his bidding. He demonstrates this on Detective Flynn, a friend of Spider-Man's who he forces to fight to the death, smugly mocking Spider-Man about his predicament while stating that he picked this method of fighting Spider-Man solely for the sake of the look on his face when forced to kill a close ally. When Spidey hesitates to hurt Flynn, a bored Wasperus tries to butcher Spider-Man's young friends Harold and Jean-Marie before threatening to hurt other innocent civilians as well. After freeing Flynn from Wasperus's control and chasing him to his lair, the general fights the heroes himself and states that he intends to keep Spidey alive just long enough to live with the guilt of not saving millions of innocents from enslavement before squashing him like a bug. A dark, serious foe in an otherwise-lighthearted and funny comic, Wasperus proves to be this continuity's nastiest villain by far.
- Spider-Man: India: Nalin Oberoi, the Earth-50101 incarnation of Norman Osborn, is the wicked CEO of the Oberoi Corporation, ordering a village full of innocent people massacred to the last to steal a powerful amulet with them. Contacting powerful, ancient demons through the power of the amulet, Oberoi happily sells himself into their service, horribly twisting his associate into a monster he calls Doctor Octopus and trying to have him kill Pavitr Prabhakar, the new Spider-Man, in exchange for his humanity. Oberoi tosses Pavitr's love interest and aunt off a bridge knowing he can only save one, and when Octopus betrays him, Oberoi furiously murders him instead. Only too eager to hand the world to the demons for the subsequent slaughter of all humanity that will ensue, even his own son, Oberoi repeatedly shows he's no less lacking in the spite and ambition that characterizes his 616 counterpart.
- Spider-Man: Reign: Edward Saks is Mayor Waters's chief assistant and the real power behind the Reign regime, with Waters just being a puppet. Under Saks's guidance, Mayor Waters turns New York into a Police State, where elections are suspended and armed troops arrest, beat or just kill those who protest against the government. When Spider-Man returns, Saks releases the Sinister Six and sends them after Spidey, threatening to blow them up with micro bombs implanted under their skin if they fail. Jameson confronts Saks and Mayor Waters over their actions and manages to reveal that Saks is in fact Venom. Venom then proceeds to devour almost everyone in a room occupied by his prisoners and his underlings. Mayor Waters announces the creation of the WEBB shield generator, designed to keep super criminals out of New York, but Venom altered it to deliver an army of symbiotes to the people of New York, killing some civilians and turning others into Venom's slaves.
- The Amazing Spider-Girl (2006-2009)
- Norman Osborn himself, murderer of Gwen Stacy and with all his evil deeds from the original continuity before his death, whose spirit lays dormant within Peter, is revealed to have cloned May Parker and raised either the original May or the clone as a weapon. Returning in Peter's body, he intends to snuff out Peter's heroic spirit and gain his revenge by murdering the Parkers. Gleefully attempting to kill May and all her friends, Norman takes Mary Jane and her baby son Benjy to the spot where Gwen Stacy died, intending to hurl them to their deaths to traumatize Peter even more. Styling himself the Goblin God and willing to murder anyone in his path, and with the same legacy of death and destruction behind him, Norman shows against why he is Peter's most despicable nemesis, who will not spare even his own grandson should he stand in Norman's way.
- After escaping S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, the Carnage symbiote proves to be as vicious as ever. It forcibly bonds with May Parker's schoolmate Moose and tries to go on several murder sprees, only stopped by Moose's interference. Carnage kidnaps Peter Parker's infant son Ben and tortures Peter. When Spider-Girl tries to rescue Ben, Carnage attacks a hospital, saying Spider-Girl has to choose between saving the staff or Ben, and throws Ben out of a window. Spider-Girl saves Ben and the staff, but Carnage reveals that he infected Ben with a symbiote, turning Ben into a copy of himself, and orders him to kill Spider-Girl. Carnage offers to cure Moose's father of cancer if he allows Carnage to permanently bond with him, but secretly plans to infect the dad with a symbiote too. When Carnage orders Ben to kill Peter, Spider-Girl has to use a sonic weapon to get the symbiote off of Ben, costing him his hearing.
- Spider-Man: Fairy Tales: The spider demon, from issue #3 ("Eclipse"), is a sadistic Tsuchigumo living in the forest. He would often trick a human into entering the forest and then use his venom to turn them into a Yokai as well, by having them kill a loved one. When Izumi arrives to avenge his parents' death, the Demon mocks him about it and then uses its venom against Izumi. The Demon then kills Izumi's uncle and kidnaps his aunt in order to have Izumi kill her. Even when beaten he tries to goad Izumi into killing him so as to take over his body.
- Spider-Man: Noir: Eyes Without a Face:
- Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus, stands in stark contrast to his occasionally-noble 616 counterpart. Born a cripple in South Africa, Otto grew up jealous of the healthy, able-bodied Africans that he grew up around, which developed into a violent hatred for the black race in general. Wishing to gain the approval of Heinrich Himmler and the Nazi party, Otto has innocent black people kidnapped off the streets and performs horrifying, inhumane experiments on them. These experiments result in his victims, such as Peter's friend Robbie Robertson, being reduced to drooling, mindless vegetables that are meant to be used for slave labor. And Otto isn't above casual murder, as shown by him brutally stabbing his ally Crime Master to death when he tried to have Otto's victims burnt to cover their tracks, viewing his actions as wasting his research.
- In the power vacuum left behind in the wake of Norman Osborn's death, the enigmatic, aforementioned Crime Master handily takes his place as New York's most fearsome criminal. Far crueler and more brutal than Norman was, Crime Master, real name Sammy, is introduced by having his hulking lackey Sandman kill a mobster who insulted him by crushing his head like a grape. A violent psychopath of the highest order, Crime Master is quick to make an example of people who cross him, such as cutting out the tongue of a stool pigeon who snitched on him and dumping his body on the streets, filling a movie theater with the corpses of his rivals, and torturing his girlfriend Felicia Hardy with a shard of glass for affiliating with Spider-Man. Crime Master also assists the aforementioned Otto Octavius in his heinous experiments by supplying him with innocent black victims he kidnaps off the streets, and when the feds start to close in on them, he heartlessly tries to have them all burnt alive, referring to them as "livestock".