Everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood superhero Spider-Man is a pretty likable dude, but he’s managed to rack up quite a number of enemies who want him dead. Spidey has one of the most recognizable bad guy clubs in comics, with iconic foes like Doctor Octopus, the Green Goblin, the Hobgoblin, Sandman and his newest cinematic villain, the Vulture. He’s also earned the hatred of frightening alien stalkers like Venom, bloodthirsty mass murderers such as Carnage, and supernatural predators like Morlun.
But on New York’s darkest nights, in the city’s most dimly lit alleys, even a wholesome hero like Spider-Man has encountered horrific villains that are only one step away from being in a horror movie.
Lurking about in the lesser known depths of the web-slinger’s comic book history, these horrible creatures, demons, cannibals, and serial killers are the stuff nightmares are made of. When Peter first put on his mask, he could have never predicted that he’d have to face evil beings like these folks. Start being cautious, because if Tom Holland does get his wish to play Spidey for decades, he might run into 15 Creepiest Spider-Man Villains You’ve Never Heard of.
Carrion was originally introduced as a telepathic, corpse-like creature who was capable of touching organic matter and causing it to decay into nothing but dust. The first Carrion was a clone of Miles Warren, the Jackal, but the virus that this Carrion carried within it outlived its original body. After the death of the original Carrion, the virus infected Malcolm McBride, a research student at Empire State University, genetically remolding McBride into a replica of the original Carrion.
McBride’s real personality struggled to free itself of the vicious, sentient virus that had overtaken, to no avail, as Carrion joined villains such as Carnage and Shriek on a killing spree through New York City. Eventually, McBride was freed of the Carrion virus, but it has since gone on to infect others, changing them against their will into embodiments of this sinister, deathly being. Since then, the Carrion virus has survived and evolved over time, with each incarnation being more horrifying than the last.
The Lizard can be pretty scary sometimes, but he’s never made our skin crawl on the level of this villain, who appeared frequently during J.M. DeMatteis’s Spider-Man run.
Vermin is originally Edward Whelan, a man who was a victim of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of his father. As an adult, Whelan becomes a geneticist. Unfortunately, his experiments accidentally transform him into an animalistic, fearful, rat-like creature, driven by a hunger for human flesh. Vermin possesses a telepathic communication with rodents, who become his only allies in the dark sewers beneath New York City. He only leaves this underground sanctuary when he hungers for new meat to devour. Whelan, the man, has sometimes overcome his rodent mutation under the care of Dr. Ashley Kafka at the Ravencroft psychiatric institute, but so far, he has always inevitably reverted back to his mutated, cannibalistic state.
Everybody knows about the Green Goblin and the Hobgoblin. Hardcore fans know there’s also a Proto-Goblin, as well as a so-called “Gray Goblin” that we never, ever talk about. But the most sinister of all the goblins is this creep, Demogoblin, a creature that bursts through the gates of Hell and co-opts the Osborn legacy.
Demogoblin is summoned to Earth by the Hobgoblin, who sells his soul in exchange for more power. This results in a demon possessing him, which eventually breaks free of his body so that it wreak havoc on its own. However, the Demogoblin doesn’t believe itself to be a villain. Instead, Demogoblin vows that it is on a holy mission to exterminate all of Earth’s sinners, though the creature’s judgmental beliefs mean that pretty much anyone who has sinned is on the death list, with the only notable exclusion being children. This belief ends up causing Demogoblin’s death, when the creature dies trying to protect a child from being crushed beneath a collapsing church.
12. Mendel Stromm
He’s been known as the Robot Master. He’s also been known as Gaunt. Whatever he goes by, Mendel Stromm is a monstrous merging of flesh and machinery that has taken many forms over the years. He also was, a long time ago, Norman Osborn’s closest partner.
Though Stromm’s original story merely had him seeking revenge on Osborn with a swarm of killer robots, his later appearances took a much creepier turn. After dying of a heart attack, Stromm’s mind is revived, his decaying flesh is fused to a powerful cyborg body, and he becomes “Gaunt.” Eventually, every part of Stromm is destroyed, except for his severed head. But even after that, Gaunt lives on in the form of an artificial intelligence capable of hacking into NYC’s electrical grid.
Stromm also has the surprising distinction of being a character who has made it to the movies. He actually appeared all the way back in 2002, played by Ron Perkins in Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man movie: he’s the researcher who Norman Osborn kills right after being doused with the goblin formula.
Originally from Haiti, Calypso is a voodoo priestess who possesses unfathomable supernatural powers, gained through the violent sacrifice of her younger sister.
Though she was originally introduced as the crafty, manipulative lover of classic Spider-Man foe Kraven the Hunter, Calypso came into her own in Todd McFarlane’s “Torment” storyline. In these comics, she uses her voodoo powers to take over the mind of Curt Connors, AKA the Lizard. She uses the reptilian monster as her personal slave in a bid to murder Spider-Man, and almost succeeds. Though Calypso is seemingly killed at the end of the story, her death proves to be only a temporary setback. Since then, she has shown the ability to resurrect both herself — and others — so she is never dead for very long.
10. The Red Vulture
No, we’re not talking about Adrian Toomes, the character whom will be played by Michael Keaton in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Though the classic Vulture is one of Spider-Man’s most dangerous enemies, he’s definitely nowhere near as creepy and uncomfortable as Jimmy Natale, the cannibalistic Red Vulture.
Real vultures are known for scavenging on corpses, and in this sense, Natale more than lives up to the Vulture moniker. The Red Vulture is a brutal vigilante, like the Punisher, except Red Vulture literally devours the corpses of his criminal victims. Yes, it seems like cannibalism is a repeated theme here. Anyway, in his first confrontation with Natale, Spider-Man is shocked to discover that not only are the villain’s wings actually a part of his body, but that he also has fangs — and can spit out acid, an action which temporarily renders Peter totally blind.
9. Charlie Wiederman, the “Other” Molten Man
Peter Parker’s old bullies aren’t the only people who’ve come back into his life as supervillains. Sometimes, his old “friends” have proven to be just as deadly.
As a kid, Charlie is actually bullied even worse than Peter is, which is why Peter befriends him. But unlike Peter, who has that strong moral upbringing from his Aunt May and Uncle Ben, Charlie is abused at home, and even after he grows up, he still seeks revenge for the merciless teasing he endured. He fools both Peter and Tony Stark into authorizing the development of a molten vibranium skinsuit, which Charlie then accidentally fuses to his body. Now both empowered and insane, Charlie hunts down his childhood bullies and murders them in cold blood. After a battle with Spider-Man, Charlie then seeks out Peter’s family as well; he burns down our hero’s apartment and Aunt May’s house, and tries to kill Mary Jane and Aunt May.
Remember those crazy astral plane sequences in Doctor Strange? Well, Jake Nash is a man who, for much of his life, has been driven to access that mythical place outside the realm of physical reality. In order to unlock the secrets of the astral plane, Nash steals a book, murders the bookstore owner, and then while in prison, starts practicing his hand at magic.
Nash finally escapes prison by casting a spell that locks him inside the astral plane. He soon learns that the only way he can return to Earth in solid form is by stealing the body of another human on Earth, and trapping them inside the astral plane in his place. This results in numerous disappearances of innocent people, until Spider-Man and Doctor Strange team up and manage to take him down.
Scrier was creepy enough when first introduced: a mysterious hooded figure with a ghostly white face, seemingly supernatural in origin, who appears to know deep, dark, and complex secrets about the universe. Scrier appears many times throughout the infamous Clone Saga, always seeming to hold the keys to some of the bizarre events that were occurring.
Later, it is revealed that the Brotherhood of Scrier is actually a cult that has existed for countless centuries, comprised of powerful men. Each of them wear the hood and white mask in honor of their worshiped deity, which they call the Scrier, a legendary omnipotent being that supposedly predates the existence of the universe. When interacting with others outside the cult, each Scrier pretends to be this same being.
Everyone knows Venom and Carnage, and if they weren’t so popular, both of them would have easily taken a spot in this list. Carnage in particular is like a symbiotic Freddy Krueger, in many respects. But a character who is still largely unknown to the general public is the equally creepy Toxin, the offspring of the Carnage symbiote.
When the Carnage symbiote gives birth, Cletus Kasady is disgusted by the whole thing, and wants to kill off the new symbiote as fast as possible. But in Carnage’s rush to get rid of his little parental problem, the newborn “Toxin” symbiote bonds to a family man and police officer named Patrick Mulligan. After nearly being murdered by Carnage, Mulligan resolves himself to a life of fighting against the symbiote’s murderous base instincts, while trying to wield its power to help others. But like most symbiotes, he’s super disgusting.
Looking back on the “Totem” storyline, wherein Spidey’s status as a “spider-totem” lured out various monstrous entities who were hungry to suck out his energy, the villain most people tend to remember is Morlun. But there were some other baddies who debuted during that time, and Shathra was among the creepiest.
Just as Spider-Man is a totem of the spider, Shathra is a totem of the spider wasp, a type of wasp known for feeding spiders to their children. Shathra hails from the astral plane, and upon learning of Peter’s existence, that’s exactly what she wants to do: capture Spider-Man, bring him back to her dimension, and feed his carcass to her children.
Luckily, Spider-Man manages to crawl his way out of that miserable fate. Still hungry for a spider-totem, Shathra later returns to menace Peter’s clone, the Scarlet Spider aka Ben Reilly.
William Turner, better known as Mindworm, is the victim of a government experiment gone wrong that causes him to be born with an enlarged skull and brain, as well as psychic abilities. Though Turner is capable of sensing thoughts and emotions, his most powerful mutation is not controlled by him: he is a psychic parasite, who leeches off the emotions of others, depleting them until they die. His first victim, through no fault of his own, is his own mother.
Mindworm doesn’t try to take over the world or rob banks with his powers. Rather, he simply tries to hole up in less suspicious locations, where his psychic vampirism can drain the life force of his neighbors without them even realizing. However, one of these neighbors turns out to be Peter’s buddy Flash Thompson, so Spider-Man gets involved, and Mindworm swears revenge.
Years pass. Filled with self-loathing, Mindworm eventually becomes homeless. Spider-Man tries to help him, but Mindworm is sick of the misery in his life, and ends up allowing himself to be shot to death by some everyday thugs.
3. The Thousand
Man, how haunting is that picture?
Flash Thompson may be Peter’s most famous high school nemesis, but he wasn’t the only one to make “Puny” Parker’s pre-superhero life into a living hell. Though writer Garth Ennis is mostly known for his work on darker comics like Preacher and the Punisher, he also made a pitstop into Spider-Man’s world when he introduced this many-legged terror.
During Peter’s childhood, his most brutal, unforgiving bully is classmate Carl King. In high school, King witnesses the famous moment where Peter is bit by an irradiated spider. The bully takes the dead spider for himself, and…um, eats it. Rather than giving Carl radiation poisoning, this action instead mutates his insides into a vast legion of spiders, all controlled by King’s consciousness. King consumes other human beings, wearing their skin while replacing their inner bodies with his spider collective. Due to his altered new state, he renames himself “the Thousand.”
After years of jealously watching Peter’s adventures from the sidelines, the Thousand finally pounces on Spidey and tries to eat him. After a terrifying battle, King accidentally punches an electric generator and fries all of the spiders within him.
Though the Sin-Eater is often remembered for his unintentional role in Eddie Brock’s fall from grace, the actual villain himself is one of the most chilling in Spider-Man’s long comic book history. Unlike the others on this list, Stan Carter isn’t a demon, monster, or extra-dimensional being. He doesn’t possess much in the way of superpowers, or even much weaponry beyond standard firearms. But Carter is one of the most ruthless, coldblooded serial killers that Spider has ever faced.
Stan Carter is an NYPD detective and a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who underwent an unsuccessful trial to recreate the Captain America super soldier experiment. After some years on the force, his mind snaps, and he is overcome by a violent moral obsession — a belief that it is his God-given mission to murder anyone who has “sinned.” (Yep, here we go again.) His first victim is his lover, NYPD Captain Jean DeWolff — Spidey’s friend on the police force — and he follows this up with a chain of targeted killings.
When Spider-Man finally catches him, he nearly beats the Sin-Eater to death. Carter survives this, but eventually ends up shooting himself in the head. However, Carter’s original reign of terror has inspired several copycat murderers.
In this article, we have seen a man whose body is composed entirely of spiders. We’ve also seen a woman who is the totem of a spider wasp. And now, we reach Swarm, the Marvel supervillain whose body is actually a swarm of killer bees.
…and he’s a Nazi doctor. Seriously.
Though Swarm could have easily been the main focus of a B-horror film, he is instead a Spider-Man villain. The only thing that remains of Swarm’s former human body is his skeleton, and like the Thousand, the bees that he is composed of are entirely dominated by his consciousness. Because of this, he is intangible, incapable of being kicked or punched, and he can separate, fly, or change “shape” at will. In addition to Spider-Man, Swarm has also fought such heroes as the X-Men and the Avengers — and he probably creeped them the hell out too.
Any scary, creepy, bizarre, and lesser-known Spider-Man bad guys that we missed? Let us know in the comments!