Despite not being shaped or sized like a shaved bear like some in the Marvel universe, Spider-Man is deceptively tough. His superhuman strength and agility make him a highly skilled fighter, and he’s beaten countless villains (and some heroes) in his long publication history. However, underneath it all, Peter Parker is still human and isn’t impervious to injury. Spidey can’t win every fight he’s in and he’s suffered some brutal beatdowns and embarrassing defeats over the years.
From the pages of Marvel Comics to his adventures on the big screen, here are 15 Times Spider-Man Got Beaten Up.
15. His first meeting with Scorpion (Amazing Spider-Man #20)
It’s good to know that J. Jonah Jameson wasted little time in being a cantankerous jerk and hating Spider-Man. A mere 20 issues in, JJJ steps up his anti-Spidey crusade significantly by secretly visiting a laboratory researching animal mutations. He pays them a hefty sum to make sleazy private investigator Mac Gargan stronger than the Webbed Wonder. Gargan’s DNA is successfully mixed with that of a scorpion’s, and a very angry and capable Mac Gargan steps out the other side, outfitted in a special armored suit with a deadly tail attached.
Scorpion attacks Spider-Man outside The Daily Bugle and the two grapple. Scorpion’s superior strength soon becomes apparent and he overpowers the web-slinger. Even Peter’s trusty webbing is no match for Gargan, who literally throws it back in his face. Scorpion (or “Scorpey” as the comic occasionally refers to him) gains a convincing win over Spidey, leaving him helpless. Jameson orders Gargan to finish the job, but Mac is so flush with victory that he sets off on a crime spree instead. Spider-Man finally manages to take Scorpion down, but the wily old Jameson takes the credit for his arrest, avoiding any repercussions and leaving everybody blissfully unaware of his involvement in the whole fiasco.
14. Mobbed by prisoners (New Avengers Vol 1. #2)
In the wake of Avengers: Disassembled, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes disband and go their separate ways. The timing couldn’t be worse, as supercharged scumbag Electro aka Max Dillon causes a mass breakout at the supervillain prison, The Raft. Spider-Man responds and reaches the island to discover Captain America, Luke Cage and Daredevil waiting. Electro escapes, but Spidey tries to help people caught up in the riot. He’s warned by Cap to wait for S.H.I.E.L.D.’s forces to show up, but jumps down into the building anyway.
Predictably, he immediately gets mobbed by the prisoners, many of whom are supervillains that Peter put there personally. The inmates dogpile on him as they compete to get a piece of the wall-crawler. He gets his arm broken after an ill-advised quip to Jigsaw and has his mask ripped away by the mob. He’s held in place and beaten by the masses before Cap and the newly arrived S.H.I.E.L.D. team swoop down and secure the area. It’s a genuinely wince-inducing sequence, and shows how Peter’s impetuous side can often lead to severe errors of judgment.
13. Defeated by Hammerhead (Amazing Spider-Man #575)
The striking (in every sense of the word) cover of Amazing Spider-Man #575, depicting a huge, gray fist slamming into the side of Spidey’s face, pretty much tells you everything you need to know about the first part of Family Ties. In it, Spider-Man faces off against the freshly resurrected Hammerhead, an old gangster foe of his who died during Civil War. Hammerhead is brought back by Mr. Negative and given a few upgrades to match his adamantium skull. Hammerhead’s already significant strength was boosted by the process, giving him Spidey levels of power. When the two face off, Peter goes for his tried and tested methods of dealing with him, but soon realizes the game has changed.
Peter breaks his hand trying to punch Hammerhead, and has his ribs broken after a failed attempt to slow ol’ Flathead down. They engage in a hellacious fight and Spider-Man is left defeated and helpless at the gangster’s feet. Spidey’s loss served to underline the fact that the new and improved Hammerhead was back in a big way. Of course, Peter managed to triumph over him in the very next issue, dislocating the guy’s hip and undoubtedly ruining the mobster’s comeback party plans.
12. Hunted by Venom (Amazing Spider-Man #347)
Venom is inarguably one of Spider-Man’s deadliest foes. The alien symbiote is strong, insane, and hates Peter Parker with a passion. The two have had many battles over the decades, but one of the more interesting ones is The Boneyard Hop!, featured in Amazing Spider-Man #347.
The issue opens with Peter waking up on a desert island to find Eddie Brock/Venom standing menacingly above him. The symbiote expresses frustration over the fact that their past battles have often been cut short by innocent civilians getting in the way. Apparently, this is such a regular occurrence that Venom has acted decisively, flying Spidey to a deserted tropical mining colony in a final effort to hunt and kill him in his own personalized battleground. Venom plays a deadly game of cat and mouse with Spidey, catching him, dealing some damage and allowing him to escape to start the process over. Peter takes repeated maulings from the symbiote before he concocts a plan. He throws Brock off his trail by faking his death in a gas explosion, leaving a charred skeleton draped in his burnt costume. Peter then swims to freedom, leaving Venom convinced that he/they have finally killed their long-time nemesis.
11. His first encounter with Carnage (Amazing Spider-Man #361)
Speaking of symbiotes, Venom’s insane spawn Carnage has always posed a huge challenge for Spider-Man to overcome. Carnage was originally introduced to be Venom’s replacement, so naturally he was much stronger and more unhinged version of Eddie Brock’s BFF. It should serve as no surprise then that Spider-Man got definitively whooped when the two met for the first time.
Following a prison breakout, Peter’s investigations lead him to St. Estes’ Home for Boys, where he finds the deranged Kasady talking to a teddy bear. Kasady soon transforms and attacks, leaving Peter little time to adapt to Carnage’s deadly offense. No matter what Spidey tries, he can’t keep Carnage down. The fight is lost when Parker dives to protect an innocent cop who stumbled across them, catching a thrown oven to the head for his troubles. Ouch. After being thoroughly tenderized by Kasady, Pete realizes he must enlist Venom’s help if he’s to have any chance of stopping the homicidal maniac.
10. The debut of Doctor Octopus (Amazing Spider-Man #3)
There are few Spider-Man villains as iconic as Doctor Octopus, and he had an immediate and significant impact on Peter’s life when he was introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #3. Otto Octavius wakes up in hospital after an industrial accident fuses four mechanical arms to his body. In a classic case of comic book science, the radiation from the accident also affected his brainwaves, turning the brilliant doctor evil. In his first criminal act, Ock takes over the hospital and holds everyone hostage. Spider-Man sneaks in and confronts Ock with his trademark bravado. The smirk is wiped off Spider-Man’s face when Ock’s extra arms prove to be more than he bargained for. Octavius defeats Spidey with ease and leaves him badly beaten.
Outmatched and embarrassed, Peter takes the loss so hard he quits being Spider-Man. It’s only after an inspiring high-school talk given by the Human Torch does Peter finally shake the cobwebs loose and don the outfit again to take Ock down. Knowing brawn alone won’t save the day, Peter builds a rudimentary device that fuses two of Ock’s arms together, leaving him open for attack. Octavius is captured, and Spider-Man learns several valuable lessons that would go on to shape his entire crime-fighting career.
9. Venom and Sandman team up (Spider-Man 3, 2007)
Okay, we know Spider-Man 3 isn’t great. Regardless of whether you like it or not, it’s hard to deny that Peter receives a nasty beating from Venom and Sandman in the climax of the film. Spider-Man is lured to a construction site after Topher Grace’s Venom kidnaps Mary Jane and suspends her cab high above in his webs. Spidey faces off with his black-suited adversary but is bested and sent crashing to the ground. Rattled, Peter stumbles to find the ground shifting beneath his feet as Sandman draws up all the sand and masonry in the area to become a colossal sand monster that only vaguely resembles Thomas Haden Church.
The combination of the two overwhelms Peter, and he soon finds himself lashed to a support beam by Venom and subject to an insane number of crushing blows from Sandman. Spider-Man desperately reaches out for MJ before taking one last thunderous Sandman hit and appearing dead. Suddenly, James Franco’s Harry Osborn appears out of nowhere to save the day, swooping in on his glider to even the odds. As with most things in the movie, the scene is a mixture of good and terrible ideas, but it does manage to create a sense of tension and peril in the moment. Despite healthy box office takings, the film didn’t get much praise from the press and earned outright anger by from some sectors of the comic book community, leading to a hasty reboot in 2012.
8. Jumped by Jester and Jack O’Lantern (Civil War)
Spider-Man played an important part in the Civil War comic event, revealing his identity to the world in support of the pro-registration campaign. Peter initially joins forces with Iron Man, but when he learns of Team Stark’s questionable approach to detainees, he has a change of heart. He informs Tony he’s leaving and they end up fighting. Peter tries and fails to escape by diving headfirst into a reinforced window and collapsing in a heap. Stark’s security forces show up just in time to ruin everything, their gunfire shattering the glass and sending the stunned Spidey careening outside.
An injured Peter flees into the sewers, where he’s cornered by The Jester and Jack O’Lantern, a pair of grudge-holding C-list villains tasked with bringing Peter in. They both eagerly set about dismantling him with a combination of fists and bombs, and Peter is left helpless and bleeding out. The fight comes to a sudden end when the infamously trigger happy Punisher shows up and executes the two Halloweenies. Frank scoops Spidey up and rushes him back to Cap HQ for some urgent medical attention. Peter pulls through and recovers in enough time to fight for Team Cap in the epic final battle between the two sides, but not without having taken one hell of a beatdown.
7. Hospitalized by Electro (Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #3)
Marvel’s now defunct Marvel Knights imprint was an attempt at a more experimental and mature series of stories. It was originally used as a showcase for some of the lesser-known heroes, but the ever-popular Spider-Man was soon given his own title under the banner. Famed writer Mark Millar was hired to scribe Down Among The Dead Men, a grittier Spider-Man story in which Peter and his family are terrorized by a mystery villain so heartless they smashed Uncle Ben’s tombstone and kidnapped Aunt May.
After much head-scratching and tail-chasing, Peter is tipped off that Electro and Vulture are involved. Spidey confronts Electro at a brothel and the two have an almost issue-length fight. Millar’s love of gritty violence shines through as the two try to tear each other apart. Spider-Man gains the upper hand, only to be lose focus when he realizes Electro and Vulture aren’t responsible for his familial predicament after all. Dillon uses the distraction and unleashes a huge electric shock that takes Webhead out and allows the two crooks to escape. Following the incident, Peter’s left in a bad way and is taken to the hospital, needing emergency intubation to keep him breathing. The Marvel Knights imprint was eventually absorbed back into the main continuity, leaving Down Among The Dead Men as a well-regarded and brutal chapter in Spider-Man’s long and colorful history.
6. Goblin vs. Spider (Spider-Man, 2002)
In the third act of Sam Raimi’s landmark Spider-Man movie, Spidey (Tobey Maguire) is forcibly flown to some abandoned ruins by an incensed Green Goblin (the always awesome Willem Dafoe). What follows is a surprisingly intense fight where Goblin beats the stuffing out of our hero. The fact that it’s possible to say things get worse for Peter after he gets half-exploded by a Pumpkin Bomb (seen above) says a lot for how Parker fares in this brawl.
Pete is given no time to recover from the explosion before he’s subject to a sound beating from a furious Goblin. He suffers a huge amount of punishment, including being thrown through walls, catching several nasty knees to the head and a receiving a jaw-jacking uppercut straight out of Mortal Kombat. Peter narrowly avoids a trident stabbing and rallies, throwing the Goblin back and eventually beating him into submission. The movie’s violence and final fight scene in particular caused a national conversation in the United Kingdom, where the BBFC film board prohibited under 12s from seeing it, leaving many young Spidey fans sorely disappointed.
5. Tortured and beaten by Norman Osborn (Peter Parker: Spider-Man Vol. 2 #25)
Peter Parker has had more than his fair share of low moments, but this one has to rank up there as one of the bleakest. It starts with a plot by Norman Osborn to break Spider-Man’s will and turn him into a willing Goblin heir. Peter has unknowingly been using hallucinogenic toothpaste (no, really) and has been suffering from Goblin-themed delusions and visions. He ends up under Norman Osborn’s control, carrying out Goblin activities at night and waking up unaware of his actions. The subliminal programming culminates in Peter visiting Osborn’s mansion and waking up tied to a chair with two glasses of water in front of him, one in light and one in shadow.
Peter’s incredibly dehydrated, but every time he reaches for the light glass, he’s shocked by electricity. Osborn states that Parker must accept darkness and the unknown to proceed, but Peter refuses. Osborn also masterminds a similar “test” where Peter is shackled in a dark room and shocked every time light enters it. Norman continues to wear Parker down until he’s sure his mind will snap. Osborn’s nefarious plans nearly succeed, but Peter pulls himself together at the last second and attacks him, putting him down and breaking his hold over him. It’s a pretty disturbing story, but it’s a great example of Spider-Man’s heroic resolve and a fascinating insight into Norman Osborn’s family history and twisted logic.
4. Burned beyond recognition (Amazing Spider-Man #700.3)
Whilst exact rankings can be argued over, there’s definitely a hierarchy for Spidey’s villains. But Peter can’t fight Doctor Octopus every week, so many one-shot or low-level recurring baddies have to bolster the numbers. In Amazing Spider-Man #700, Peter comes across lowly bad guy Firebrand, a villain wearing a suit of power armor that gives him powers similar to the Human Torch. Spidey gets a little too complacent in his efforts to apprehend him, however, and ends up getting pinned against a jalopy. Things take a nasty turn as Firebrand suddenly flares to become pure fire. The car explodes, leaving the two combatants wounded and unconscious.
The explosion burns Spider-Man so badly he’s unrecognizable, and Peter being carted off to a supervillain hospital (yep, apparently that’s a thing) called The Black Lodge by mistake. He spends some time recuperating, unable to tell the staff his true identity. When Firebrand wakes up, word quickly gets around, and soon every resident villain attacks him, leading to a brawl between Spidey and baddies named The Eel and Tiger. The resulting scrap ends with a victorious Peter, though it turns the hospital into a large pile of smoldering rubble. Spider-Man wisely exits before gets pinned with “some bizarre arson rap“.
3. Takes a bullet, fights five villains and dies (Ultimate Spider-Man #160)
As is to be expected from a story called The Death of Spider-Man, things don’t quite go Peter’s way in Ultimate Spider-Man #160. The web-slinger takes a bullet meant for Captain America and instead of going to the hospital, he naturally opts to stop five of his most dangerous enemies instead. He tracks Green Goblin, Kraven the Hunter, Sandman, Vulture and Electro to his own house in Queens and arrives to find Goblin, The Human Torch and Iceman KO’d.
Despite his weakened state and a gaping hole in his side, Peter manages to fight the remaining villains off. The victory proves to be short-lived, however, as Green Goblin comes to and immediately attacks Peter. The two have a vicious battle. The tide turns when Mary Jane crashes a truck into the Goblin, giving Peter a window of opportunity. Spidey webs her to safety before using his last ounce of strength to bring the truck down on Goblin’s head. The truck explodes and takes the green meanie out, but the blast sendd Peter flying back and causes him to land awkwardly on his neck. This proves to be the fatal blow, and after sharing a heart-wrenching moment with Aunt May, Peter passes away. In a thematically fitting touch, Peter Parker’s death directly inspires the series’ new Spider-Man, Miles Morales, to pick up the mantle and continue his good work.
2. Morlun arrives (Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #30)
Morlun is arguably one of the most powerful enemies Spider-Man’s faced to date. He’s an multi-dimensional being that is drawn to Earth-616 by his desire to drain Peter of his potent spider-flavored lifeforce, and will stop at next to nothing to achieve his grim goal. And he’s as awesome as that sounds.
Spider-Man is called to a burning building, and after saving an occupant, he’s greeted by a sucker punch from Morlun that sends him flying back and embedding him in the side of a cab. In his inner monologue, Spidey admits that the punch he just received was harder than anything he’s felt before, stronger than Thor or even The Hulk. Spidey tries his usual tactic of quipping and using his acrobatic moves, but soon realizes that Morlun isn’t like his regular adversaries. The pair fight for hours, with Morlun tirelessly battering Spider-Man and having an answer for everything figuratively and literally thrown at him.
The epic brawl finally ends after Morlun lights the gas from a broken oven and explodes a whole apartment in an effort to finally get rid of his spider problem. Peter survives and manages to escape, but not without some suffering some serious damage and a desperate need for a new game plan. He finally doses himself with massive amounts of radiation, and when Morlun drains him, it weakens him. The compromised Morlun is then unceremoniously shot by his human assistant in an act of revenge, turning the short-lived baddie to dust…just not for long.
1. Morlun returns (Spider-Man: The Other)
In the crossover event The Other, Morlun somehow returns to confront Spider-Man and finally drain him of his tasty lifeforce. As it never merely rains, but pours, in Parker’s world, Pete has been informed that he’s dying of a mystery blood disease. Peter visits all his super smart colleagues like Bruce Banner, Black Panther and Doctor Strange, but none are able to help. Peter webslings around town to clear his head, but is promptly attacked by Morlun.
Like their first fight, the battle spills all over New York, starting at the Daily Bugle and moving to the place where Peter was first bitten — Empire State University. It’s a savage and exhausting slugfest, which Peter feels he’s winning at one point. This changes violently and abruptly. In a gruesome twist, Morlun plucks Peter’s left eye from the socket and eats it. The blinded Spidey is then mercilessly pummelled into the ground and left a bloodied mess. Morlun stops short of killing him when the cops show up, preferring to complete his ritualistic life drain when they’re alone. Spidey is rushed to the hospital and slowly recovers.
Unsurprisingly, Morlun shows up again, eager to finish what he started. However, Peter taps into his more animalistic side and leaps on Morlun, stabbing him with newly acquired arm spikes and tearing his throat out. In the following comics, Peter embraced his inner spider and soon gained new eyes and a host of new powers, including organic webbing. Spider-Man’s second big brawl with Morlun is probably the nastiest fight he’s been in, and certainly one of the biggest beatings he’s ever had the misfortune of receiving.
What other memorable beatdowns can you recall Spider-Man suffering through? Let us know in the comments.