This story contains spoilers for various Spider-Man movies.
Lizard, Rhino and Harry Osborn’s New Goblin, among others, can’t crack our list — keep trying, fellas. Here are our top six villains across this Spider-Man franchise’s eight live-action solo movies.
6. Sandman (Thomas Haden Church)
Sam Raimi, director of Tobey Maguire’s Spidey trilogy that helped jump-start modern superhero movies, loves the classic villains from ‘60s comics, and you could tell he had affection for the plot-pivotal Sandman in “Spider-Man 3.”
Church, coming off a breakthrough turn in 2004’s “Sideways,” humanized Flint Marko, the father who became a beast due to a tragic accident. And Maguire spent so much of “Spider-Man 3” in his black-suit bad mood, we could contend that Sandman — thanks to Church’s textured performance — was the most human person in that movie. Yet in “No Way Home,” Sandman is bedeviled by the same issue that constrained his presence in “Spider-Man 3”: He must surrender too much screen time to other villains.
5. Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal)
Mysterio (a.k.a. Quentin Beck), that sly master of holograms, despises Iron Man/Tony Stark but takes it out on Stark’s protegee, your poor neighborhood Spidey (Tom Holland), in “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Gyllenhaal’s performance as Mysterio, who initially poses as a force for good, is doubly beguiling. Bonus points: Mysterio introduces the idea of the multiverse to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, preparing fans for so much of what has followed. His reveal of Peter Parker’s identity sets up the events of “No Way Home,” but beyond that, the character gets nothing in the latest release to boost his ranking.
4. Vulture (Michael Keaton)
Keaton, also known as the best Batman ever, as well as a stellar Birdman, is exceptional as an MCU villain engaging in fowl play in “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” His Vulture is a cunning big boss of the bad guys and — in a sublime twist — also happens to be a family man who is the father of Peter Parker’s love interest. Bonus: His chilling conversation with Holland’s Peter Parker en route to homecoming is Keaton at the top of his raised-eyebrow game. Vulture doesn’t get the longer arc of some higher-ranked villains, but he makes the most of his shot.
3. Electro (Jamie Foxx)
Arguably no baddie gets a better upgrade in “No Way Home” than Foxx’s Matt Dillon/Electro. In “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” the cheesy tech geek turned villain was strictly low-wattage screenwriting opposite Andrew Garfield’s wall-crawler. The new film gives Foxx the freedom to be his charismatic self, nearly stealing scenes with deftly delivered one-liners. No electric-blue makeup needed — just let the kinetic performer do his thing.
2. Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina)
Doc Ock (a.k.a. Otto Octavius) forged his way into “No Way Home” girded with plenty of past glory. Raimi’s “Spider-Man 2” is among the best superhero movies ever, thanks significantly to Molina’s layered turn. Otto’s a friend and mentor to Maguire’s Peter Parker before he becomes a metal-tentacled monster. Molina plays the villain with comic-book panache, yet we never forget the honorable Octavius lies beneath — which proves crucial in “No Way Home.”
1. Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe)
Two decades after Dafoe debuted as the supreme foe in Raimi’s “Spider-Man,” the Green Goblin still snarls, soars and taunts like no other. Dafoe brilliantly conveys the battle in Norman Osborn’s mind between the man who wanted to be there for his son and the monster who would destroy the world. The actor feels ageless in “No Way Home,” but one tip to the costumers: The grinning Osborn is even scarier in a suit and tie than in the masked Goblin get-up. No one swings with the webslinger better.
This story has been updated.