A look at Spider-Man's adversaries

San Francisco ChronicleMay 1, 2014 

Batman has comics’ most famed Rogue’s Gallery. But ol’ Webhead ain’t no slouch – his dedicated Spider-Villains may be the second-best-known set of mighty miscreants.

Of course, this can lead to chronic Too-Many-Villainitis. Indeed, the new “Amazing Spider-Man 2” features the Rhino (Paul Giamatti), Electro (Jamie Foxx), and the rebooted return of the biggest Spider-Baddie of all, the Green Goblin (Dane DeHaan).

Here’s a recap of Spider-Man’s onscreen adversaries.

The Green Goblin

As any Spider-Fan will tell you, he is the man. Or the men. Or the women. The Halloweeny, armed-to-the-teeth Goblin has enjoyed numerous manifestations over the years, starting with crazy industrialist Norman Osborn, then his neglected son Harry, then at least three others. He has also spawned a cottage industry of Goblin affiliates, including the Hobgoblin and the Goblinettes.

Movie fans will remember Willem Dafoe’s wacko portrayal in the 2002 “Spider-Man”: “I’m good.” “You’re bad.” “Shut up.” “No, you shut up.” In the new film, DeHaan of “Chronicle” takes up the badness as Harry.

Electro

For years, Electro was the sneering crook in a hilarious yellow-and-green, bolt-themed jumpsuit who, frankly, wasted some pretty awesome powers on basic thievery. He powered the Frightful Four and the Sinister Six. In the new film, not much beyond the original’s name (Max Dillon) and a variant of his occupation as an electrical engineer has been retained. The new, blue Electro reads as a hybrid of both Dr. Frankenstein and his creature. Enough attention has been paid to deeper character motivation to draw the Oscar-winning Foxx.

The Rhino

Another super-soldier variant, an Eastern-Bloc thug blasted with what we’ll call “MacGuffin Rays” to become really, really strong and stuff. He wears a rhinoceros suit made of a super-polymer they should have called “Rhinoplastic.” In the movie, he’ll apparently get a less-awesome but more-bulky Iron Man-ish suit of armor. Giamatti has said that Rhino is his favorite Marvel character, which is kind of like saying Ernie Riles is your favorite San Francisco Giant.

The Lizard

Nice-guy scientist Dr. Curt Connors tried to reboot a lost limb, creating a formula based on reptilian DNA that – surprise – turned him into a leapin’ lizard man. Just think of how freaking cool it is for kids to read a comic with a misanthropic reptile in a lab coat. Dylan Baker apparently grew a movable quadrate bone for the role in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” but, sadly, shed the coat.

Dr. Octopus

Who would win in a fight between Dr. Octopus and Hydra? Dr. Otto Octavius, who was apparently named by the Bureau of Foreshadowing, is another in a long line of anti-Spidey mad scientists. Doc Ock was an unpleasant guy whose brilliant invention of a harness with four robotic tentacles became fused to him in a nuclear accident and controlled by his nuke-mutated brain. In “Spider-Man 2’s” movie-softened version, he was a great guy who just happened to go through the same accident-turns-good-guy-bad process that produced the first movie’s Green Goblin.

Venom

One of the most popular of the bunch, an alien symbiote costume that turned Spider-Man into Super-Spider-Man. Then Spidey found it was kind of eating his soul, which in “Spider-Man 3” caused him to participate in a dance number. So he dumped it and, of course, a creature impervious to such harm because of the lack of said soul – a journalist – picked it up and became the unfriendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

Sandman

A petty crook who came into contact with irradiated sand and gained the power to turn himself into sand and pebbles. He can be defeated by his natural enemy, a bucket of water. Really, the best thing about him is his real (fake) name, Flint Marko.

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