A superhero story is only as interesting as its villains. Luckily, throughout the five decades of Spider-Man comics, there have been plenty of interesting baddies, with motives ranging from revenge to power to just trying to make a living.
There’s a whole gamut of Spider-Man villains out there, including wacky scientists whose experiments let them commit crimes; victims of said experiments with a thirst for evil; members of various organized crime groups; cat burglars turned vengeful exes; and an up-and-coming vlogger who just wants her crimes to get those #clicks.
Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man for PlayStation 4 features a host of villains from throughout Spidey’s history. Not sure who’s who? Let’s dive in.
[Note: Spoilers for the comics and for the Spider-Man game below! Villains are generally ordered as they appear in-game.]
Real name: Wilson Fisk
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #50 (1967)
One of the most notorious crime bosses in the Marvel Universe, Kingpin controls most of the organized crime in New York City. As a child, he was bullied, which drew him to the power of gangs. He soon became the right-hand man of Don Rigoletto, before murdering Rigoletto and taking control.
To the outside world, Fisk appears as a credible and even charitable businessman. His first appearance involved an attempted coalition of New York mobs, only to be thwarted by Spider-Man. Throughout various comic runs, Kingpin has several redemption arcs, usually spurred by his civilian wife Vanessa.
Fisk started out as an antagonist to Spider-Man, but in more recent iterations, he’s shifted to being Daredevil’s prime foe. He’s heavily featured in Netflix’s Daredevil, where he’s portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio.
Real name: Herman Schultz
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #46 (1967)
A brilliant inventor who turned to a life of crime, the Shocker earned his name from air-blasting gauntlets called “vibro-smashers,” which emit high frequency blasts. He invented them while in prison and used them to break out. In his first confrontation with Spider-Man, the Shocker actually beat the web-slinging hero and was able to escape.
The Shocker usually works in a team. Unlike most Spider-Man villains who have a personal vendetta or some greater scheme, the Shocker just wants to steal things and make a living through dishonest means. He’s often portrayed as more rational than some of the rather, uh, grandiose Spider-Man villains, and realizes that he’s often overpowered when it comes to the super-powered individuals in the Marvel world.
Herman Schultz appeared in Spider-Man: Homecoming, where he was portrayed by Bokeem Woodbine.
Real name: Felicia Hardy
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #194 (1979)
Black Cat is the sometimes-foe, sometimes-ally and sometimes-love interest of Spider-Man. Daughter of cat burglar Walter Hardy, Felicia also has the power to affect “bad luck” and manipulate probability fields. Hardy swears revenge on her rapist and trains in martial arts and acrobatics, but before she can find him, he dies in a drunk driving accident. Not wanting her training to go to waste, Hardy decides to follow in her father’s footsteps.
She attempts to bust her father out of prison and meets Spider-Man the same night. Eventually, she grows to trust him and even falls in love with him, continuing her capers as Black Cat in an attempt to gain his attraction. The two date for a time, but eventually Peter Parker marries Mary Jane Watson, much to Hardy’s fury.
Black Cat flip-flops between good and evil, but she ultimately makes up with Peter Parker and MJ and most recently joins Heroes for Hire.
While she bears resemblance to the other cat-themed, sometimes-foe, sometimes-ally, sometimes-love interest master-thief in comics, creator Marv Wolfman says that Black Cat was originally envisioned as a foil for Spider-Woman, and that the character was inspired by a Tex Avery cartoon short featuring a black cat.
Felicia Hardy makes a film appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, where she’s portrayed by Felicity Jones. A solo Black Cat movie is planned for Sony’s universe of Marvel characters.
Real name: Silver Sablinova
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #256 (1985)
From the fictional Eastern European country of Symkaria (right next to Doctor Doom’s Latveria), Silver Sablinova is a mercenary who hunts down war criminals and supervillains. Though her agenda is usually for good, her mercenary ways tend to clash with the do-gooder motives of the masked superheroes. She often allies herself with superheroes, including Spider-Man, the Punisher, Captain America and Deadpool. In one arc, she was drowned by Rhino, but has since been resurrected.
In addition to leading mercenary group Wild Pack, she is also the founder of Silver Sable International, an organization of super-powered mercenaries made up of heroes and reformed minor villains for hire. Silver Sable International regularly assists heroes in taking down supervillains.
While she’s typically a neutral character who occasionally allies for good, the Ultimate Spider-Man comics portrayed her as an antagonist who was sent by Donald Roxxon to capture Spider-Man for questioning.
An upcoming Silver Sable movie is in the works for Sony’s Marvel universe.
Real name: Max Dillon
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #9 (1964)
An electrical engineer and lineman who was involved in a freak accident, Max Dillon is essentially a human electrical capacitor. Dillon was almost recruited by Magneto for the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but he turned the offer down, though still turning to a life of crime on his own.
Electro was one of the founding members of the Sinister Six, the first group of Spider-Man villains started by Doctor Octopus, which also included Sandman, Vulture, Mysterio and Kraven the Hunter. He regularly teams up with iterations of the Sinister Six in various numbers. He’s also been hired by a few of New York’s crime lords, most notably Kingpin’s son, Richard Fisk. In addition to Spider-Man, Electro has faced off against other heroes including Daredevil, the Punisher and Thor.
Later on, the title of Electro passes to Francine Frye, a supervillain fanatic who absorbs Dillon’s powers and leaves him for dead.
Electro was a main antagonist (along with Harry Osborn’s Green Goblin) in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and was portrayed by Jamie Foxx.
“Real” name: Martin Li
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #546 (2008)
Mister Negative’s real name is unknown. He was a member of the Snakeheads, a Chinese gang involved in human trafficking. When one of the ships carrying illegal Chinese immigrants crashed, he assumed the identity of one of the deceased passengers, Martin Li. He was kidnapped by a different criminal gang while in New York and subjected to chemical experiments — along with Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen (Cloak and Dagger).
The drug created two vastly different personas: the kind-hearted Martin Li and the evil Mister Negative. Martin Li runs a soup kitchen in Chinatown (where Aunt May volunteers), while Mister Negative seeks to take over the criminal world. Mister Negative is able to control aspects of the Darkforce and the Lightforce, which include object empowerment, healing and corrupting touch, and limited shapeshifting. He also has an army of personal henchmen known as Inner Demons.
Mister Negative regularly experiments with bioweapons, at one point stealing Spider-Man’s blood to use in a formula. He crosses paths with Eddie Brock (aka Venom), and his touch causes the genesis of Anti-Venom. Brock becomes the first person to be aware of Mister Negative’s dual identity.
His main motivation is to take control of the criminal underworld, and as such, he regularly comes into conflict with various criminal organizations across the city. Mister Negative usually faces off against Anti-Venom and Cloak and Dagger.
Real name: Lonnie Thompson Lincoln
First appearance: Web of Spider-Man #36 (1988)
Lonnie Lincoln grew up as Harlem’s only African-American albino. He was originally established as a foil to Spider-Man supporting character Robbie Robertson, an editor at the Daily Bugle and one of the first African-American characters to have a serious supporting role in Spider-Man comics instead of being plucky comic relief.
Lincoln and Robertson went to high school together, and when Lincoln started gaining notoriety in high school for bullying other students and demanding protection money, Robertson intended to publish a story in the school paper, but pulled it after Lincoln intimidated him. Over the years, Tombstone gained a reputation in the crime world as a mob enforcer, eventually becoming Kingpin’s personal hitman.
Though he and Robertson have been engaged in a bitter, deadly feud for years (with Tombstone even requesting a prison change just to be in the same penitentiary as Robertson), when the two were both badly injured in a fall, Tombstone brought Robertson to an Amish farm to recover — so they could engage in a fair fight.
Tombstone regularly partners up with various Spider-Man villains and organizations and is often hired by them as well. This also means he faces off against other villains. Later on, he gains super strength and heightened physical abilities due to an experimental gas at the Osborn Chemical Plant.
Real name: Unrevealed
First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #559 (2008)
A relatively new villain in Marvel comics, Screwball’s whole schtick involves streaming and the internet. She figured out that having Spider-Man in her online videos increased the amount of views, so she sets out to get footage of him as often as possible.
She most recently teamed up with Arcade in Las Vegas: She does his bidding, and he trains her and provides exclusive streaming rights.
Real name: Anthony “Tony” Masters
First appearance: The Avengers #195 (1980)
Blessed with the ability to mimic the physical movements of others, Taskmaster is a dangerous foe in combat. Though he often serves as a mercenary, Taskmaster also trains villains (and later on, heroes) in combat. Among those he’s trained are Crossbones, Agent X and Spider-Woman.
While usually a mercenary and villain, Taskmaster occasionally appears as an antihero and sleeper agent. It is later revealed that he was a former S.H.I.E.L.D., agent and that his powers were the result of an experimental version of the Super-Soldier Serum. Though he can learn new fighting techniques, they overwrite his real memory. As a result, he forgot his wife and field agent partner, Mercedes Merced, as well as his involvement with S.H.I.E.L.D. Merced is forced to reveal her cover and Taskmaster remembers his old identity, but before they can fully reconcile, Taskmaster fights an opponent — thus losing his personal memories once again.
Real name: Adrian Toomes
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #2 (1963)
One of the earliest Spider-Man villains, Vulture has a very long history with Spider-Man. While working as an engineer, Adrian Toomes developed a harness that would allow him to fly — as well as imbue him with super strength. He clashes with Spider-Man after losing his job and becoming a masked criminal full-time.
Vulture is one of the original members of the Sinister Six, who were defeated by Spider-Man when he faced them individually.
Toomes has been in and out of prison, befriending various villains and teaming up with them. Due to the technology that powers his wings, he develops cancer, causing him to briefly turn to heroism. This does not last, and he promptly returns to a life of crime.
Many wannabe villains have tried to copy Vulture and taken up the name. Most recently, Toomes upgraded his harness and rebranded as the Falcon (not to be confused with Sam Wilson’s Falcon).
Vulture was the primary antagonist in Spider-Man: Homecoming, where he was played by Michael Keaton. He’s set to appear in the sequel Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Real name: Aleksei Sytsevich
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #41 (1966)
Aleksei Sytsevich was a thug in the Russian mafia. After a series of chemical experiments by two mafia scientists, Sytsevich was equipped with powerfully durable armor that’s permanently fused to his skin. Sytsevich was specifically chosen for his brute strength as well as his low intelligence, which the mafia hoped would make him a loyal pawn.
Rhino is usually recruited by more advanced villains, including Leader, Kingpin and Klaw. He briefly gave up his life of crime and got married, but after the murder of his wife Oksana, he returned and joined Doc Ock’s Sinister Six. He eventually joined the Jackal, compelled by the clone of his dead wife created by the Jackal’s New U Technologies. After all the New U clones were destroyed, Spider-Man managed to convince Rhino to repent and be the man Oksana would’ve wanted him to be.
Rhino appears in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, played by Paul Giamatti, first as his civilian identity, and then in the Rhino armor at the end of the movie.
Real name: Mac Gargan
First appearance: Amazing Spider-Man #19 as Mac Gargan and #20 as Scorpion (1964, 1965)
Mac Gargan was originally just a private investigator hired by J. Jonah Jameson to follow Peter Parker, to figure out how Parker was getting such good pictures of Spider-Man. Parker was able to detect the investigator, so Gargan was not successful. Jameson grew frustrated and paid Gargan to to be the subject of an animal-human mutation experiment. Though it endowed him with scorpionlike powers, it also caused Gargan to lose his sanity.
As Scorpion, Gargan has superhuman strength, agility, speed, stamina and durability. He also has a clublike mechanical tail and the ability to crawl up walls. In addition to Spider-Man, Scorpion has faced off against other heroes including S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, Captain America and Falcon, Anti-Venom and Carol Danvers’ Ms. Marvel.
Scorpion comes in contact with the Venom symbiote and becomes its new host for a period of time. He teams up with various other supervillains and criminal organizations, such as Norman Osborn’s Dark Avengers.
An unpowered version of Gargan portrayed by Michael Mando appears in Spider-Man: Homecoming, where he is a criminal instead of a private investigator. He’s set to return in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Real name: Otto Octavius
First appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #3 (1963)
One of Spidey’s most famous and notorious foes, Doctor Otto Octavius was a brilliant scientist who invented a set of mechanical arms controlled by a brain-computer interface. After a radiation accident, the four-armed device fused to his body, and he turned to a life of crime.
He started the original Sinister Six and has led the group’s subsequent iterations. His villainous acts caused the death of George Stacy (Gwen Stacy’s father), the near-fatal beating of Black Cat, and Silver Sable’s drowning. Even though he’s one of the most deadly villains in the Spider-Man comics, he’s recently been depicted as a moral and honorable character.
At the end of The Amazing Spider-Man #700, thanks to some funky mind-swaps and Peter Parker’s dying wishes, Doctor Octopus takes over Spider-Man’s body to become the Superior Spider-Man. During the Superior Spider-Man line, Octavius — now in Peter Parker’s body — tries to redeem himself as a hero and become a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker. However, he ultimately realizes that he will never be as good, and allows Peter Parker to reclaim his body.
Portrayed by Alfred Molina, Doctor Octopus was the primary villain in Spider-Man 2, where he faced off against Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man.