Spider-Man’s latest iteration, as a wise-cracking teen web-slinger embedded in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, might be the most successful yet. With great power and great responsibility comes a need for great villains to face, and fortunately among Marvel’s several thousand published characters are more than a few who specialise in beating down on the web-headed wonder.
As well as encountering classic Marvel villains at every turn, Spider-Man has also tussled with villains associated primarily with him or with the urban New York-based heroes including Spidey and Daredevil.
Spider-Man’s tangling with the Vulture and his associates was only the beginning for the new cinematic Spidey. The choice of villain will have a massive influence on the feeling and quality of future instalments in Peter Parker’s story, not just by giving him someone cool to fight but by enabling powerful themes to be explored and some particularly well-regarded comic book arcs to be adapted.
Some villains are prominent members of Spider-Man’s rogues’ gallery, while others are less well-known by the public but have particular utility in the MCU. And some are just plain cool.
The fishbowl-headed special effects maestro was one of Spider-Man’s most persistent villains in the character’s early days. The character tried a bit of everything, from museum heists and bank jobs to menacing Aunt May, all the while being faintly unhinged as befits a man who wears a glass globe on his head.
His inherent goofiness and the death of the original Mysterio in Kevin Smith’s run on Daredevil means he has lost relevance in recent years, but the character still has huge potential since he uses illusions and trickery, rather than brawn, to enable his wicked plots.
Mysterio also has fascinating potential to comment on the film industry itself. As a one-time Hollywood effects man, he could rail against the CGI-packed blockbusters of today while lamented the practical effects of his era, all while participating in exactly the kind of blockbuster he hates.