A hero is only as good as their villains, and it’s safe to say that Spider-Man has some of the most visually impressive and diverse rogues galleries of any comic book superhero. From the incredibly unsettling Green Goblin to the tentacular Doctor Octopus, through to villains like the Sandman or the Rhino, Spider-Man has done battle with some classic characters over the years.
But they can’t all be winners, and sometimes Spidey’s writers have just thrown together whatever lazy ideas they have lying around. This has led to a lot of underwhelming animal-themed enemies, as well as plenty of Spider-Man copycats that have longtime fans rolling their eyes.
Here are 17 Spider-Man Villains Whose Designs Are So Lazy Their Creators Shouldn’t Have Bothered:
17. The Spot
Let’s start things off with a classic. The Spot (real name Johnathon Ohnn) was once a scientist who worked for the Kingpin, before an accident with an experiment designed to recreate teleporter Cloak’s powerset. Of course, in classic Spider-Man fashion, this experiment backfired, leaving Ohnn with the power to create small round portals that look like portable holes from Road Runner cartoons.
This super power is hardly original, as Wile E Coyote will tell you, but the Spot’s costume is even worse – he basically looks exactly like Spider-Man, but white, and covered with bit black spots. In theory, this costume means that the comic artist who’s drawing him doesn’t have to try too hard and worry about pesky things like facial expressions.
What’s the simple and easy solution to creating a new twist on an old supervillain? Make them a sexy woman!
This is a logic that’s popped up in comics a lot over the years, particularly in Spider-Man comics. There are plenty of offenders here, such as Lady Octopus or Electra (not to be confused with Elektra, because sometimes comic writers are just the worst).
Scorpia is reflective of this popular timesaving villain creation strategy, which was used extensively throughout the nineties. What’s particularly perplexing, though, is that while Lady Octopus has long since faded into obscurity, Scorpia still pops up every now and then, when the writers are feeling particularly lazy and want to have Spider-Man fight someone with a robot tail.
Considering that the original Scorpion is really just a poor man’s Doc Ock, with one robotic limb instead of four and no particular intelligence to speak of, it’s weird that we keep seeing his gender swapped alternative wandering around New York. Clearly someone at Marvel has a fondness for Scorpia.
Marvel’s creative team ran into a problem following the iconic death of the Green Goblin. Having impaled Norman Osborn on the end of his own Goblin Glider, they’d created a powerful piece of comic book history (that we’d later see replicated in the first Spider-Man movie), but they’d also done away with an enormous part of the Spider-Man mythos.
The solution to the death of the Green Goblin? Paint him orange and call him the Hobgoblin.
This must have been the logic behind the introduction of Roderick Kingsley, a new heir to the Goblin throne who turned up in order to fill the void left by Norman Osborn. He didn’t exactly take off, though, as an obvious recolor of a classic villain isn’t enough to give stories weight. Marvel also tried making Harry Osborn and even Phil Urich the Green Goblin, but after nothing stuck, they decided to resurrect the original recipe villain and call it good.
One look at Spidercide, and it’s clear what his creators were thinking.
What if there was a larger, tougher, evil Spider-Man? What if, indeed. Except, of course, that the Marvel universe already has one of those, named Venom. But if this seems lazy, it’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Spidercide (real name “Peter Parker” for reasons we’ll get into) came along at the height of the infamous Clone Saga. At one point in comics, across several books, Marvel writers were just throwing out as many different copies of Spider-Man as possible. This has been a standard procedure for printing money with Marvel, as everyone loves Spider-Man. But while in the modern day we have Silk and Spider-Gwen and Miles Morales, back in the nineties we had a million clones of Peter Parker, and not much else.
There’s the original clone, Ben Reilly, who took over as Spider-Man for a while. There’s Kaine, the giant murderous mutant clone. Then there was Spidercide, a mercifully shortlived clone who showed up a few times to try and kill all other Peter clones in the bizarre belief that he was the original Spider-Man.
From one Spider-Man copycat to another, as Marvel proves that there’s no idea quite as enduring (or overdone) as pitting the Friendly Neighborhood Web Head against someone who looks exactly like him.
In fairness to Tarantula, his costume does feature a few differences when compared with the Spider-Man get-up. Sadly, though, all this does is make him look like an off-brand action figure that’s been switched up just enough to avoid licensing infringement.
In order to make this Spidey copy a little more unique, he was given the backstory of being a South American revolutionary from an unidentified South American country. Yes, that’s right – this is Cuban Spider-Man. Just what we always needed.
While Tarantula eventually mutated into a giant spider (because comics) and was killed, he recently resurfaced as a clone thanks to (spoiler alert) the actions of a now morally dubious Ben Reilly – another Spider-Man villain who also has amazing spider powers.
12. White Rabbit
Thankfully, not all of Spider-Man’s villains are mirror images of himself. Some are, instead, Alice in Wonderland cosplayers.
Lorina Dodson is a crime boss (of sorts) who forces all of her underlings to dress as characters from Lewis Carol’s classic drug trip children’s novels. While you might expect her to take the role of Alice for herself, she instead chooses to cosplay as the perpetually tardy White Rabbit, for unknown reasons.
Obviously there is a lot of charm to the Alice novels and their various on-screen incarnations. The characters and designs from the stories have earned a place in counter culture as a shorthand for quirky, offbeat weirdness, and we’re not saying that anyone is wrong in enjoying any version of Wonderland.
White Rabbit’s longtime partner in crime, Walrus, isn’t technically a Spider-Man villain, in that he originated in a Defenders comic instead. This was in the era long before the gritty Netflix shows, of course, where you’d never find a character dressed as a marine mammal.
Over the years, though, the Walrus has migrated into Spider-Man’s wheelhouse via the middleman that is Frog-Man. In case you can’t tell, there are plenty of lazy heroes bouncing around this particular corner of the Marvel comics universe.
The Walrus was originally defeated by earnest hero Frog-Man (himself a former Spider-Man villain), before teaming up with White Rabbit to seek revenge. This all led to an uninspired attempt at a comedic Spider-Man story in which the Wall Crawler has to break up a fight between all three poorly designed characters.
Walrus eventually got a chance to shine in a Deadpool book when he got his hands on a magic hammer similar to Thor’s. This moment of power was fairly short-lived, and the character faded back into merciful obscurity.
10. Jack O’Lantern
The villain known as Jack O’Lantern is a superhuman who has a jack o’lantern for a head.
That’s it. That’s his whole deal. No doubt this was the result of an all-night villain brainstorming session at Halloween in which most creators involved were drunk.
Another character to be created to fill the Green Goblin shaped void in Spider-Man comics, Jack essentially took one of Norman Osborn’s gimmicks – his pumpkin bombs – and attempted to build an entire villain around it. Jack O’Lantern even rides around on a flying broomstick which operates a lot like a Goblin Glider, and the original character to invent the villainous persona, Jason Macendale Jr, eventually went on to become a new version of the Hobgoblin, which pretty much proves how interchangeable these two villains are.
The one nice part of this character’s design that stands out more than most is that his pumpkin head is actually on fire, which does admittedly make for some nice visuals – despite likely being someone awkward for the wearer during a fight.
Ah, good old Mysterio. A C-list villain who is inexplicably popular, and who shows up far more often than he has any right to.
A former special effects expert, Mysterio uses tricks, subterfuge, and hallucinogenic drugs to try and trap Spider-Man in a series of illusions. In practice, this means that the writers can come up with whatever nonsense they like and blame it on Mysterio without having to worry about the wider ramifications of shrinking Spidey to the size of a toy or having him attacked by a dragon.
Mysterio has drawn no small amount of mocking over the years thanks to his particularly lazy costume design. While it’s not clear whether his round opaque helmet is inspired by a crystal ball or, as Spidey often notes, a fish bowl, there is no denying that there’s something enduring about this lazy costume.
8. Mister Negative
Decades ago, The Simpsons coined the term “a wizard did it” to explain away any plot contrivance or continuity error in a work of fiction. In the Marvel universe, the appropriate alternative might be “a dark dimension did it”. Travelling to the Negative Zone gives the Fantastic Four their powers in the Ultimate universe, and the power of the Darkforce Dimension creates teenage heroes Cloak and Dagger.
Then, decades later, when Dan Slott needed a new villain, he returned to the vague Darkforce Dimension to create Mister Negative, a guy whose colors are flipped in a way that makes it looks like one of the Marvel artists found the Invert button in MS Paint and just went nuts.
The result is a villain who, while very striking in appearance, has a conveniently ill-defined set of abilities and powers. After all, a dark dimension created him, so he can do whatever the plot needs him to in order to keep things moving along without too much thought from the writers.
Here’s a wonderful example of a Marvel writer just not bothering to come up with something original. As cool as his name might sound, Overdrive is basically just a guy who can drive cars and bikes really well. Eventually, he gains the power to upgrade cars on the fly, so that when driving, he can make any vehicle go really, really fast.
Yes, his name is descriptive of his power. Overdrive can drive over the speed limit. That’s his entire skill point, and how he thought he’d be able to adapt that to work as a museum thief is never properly explained in the comics.
Even worse is Overdrive’s costume – full black leather from head to toe, with a black bike helmet. The comic even makes a point of noting that this helmet, while a little quirky, is nothing more than off-the-shelf motorcycle gear. There’s nothing original or unique about his design, and he could easily be mistaken for an Amazon courier.
Over the years, the Sandman has endured as one of Spider-Man’s most engaging, interesting foes. From his origin back when Spidey was a fresh, new character, Flint Marko has turned up time and again to cause sandy trouble and leave Spider-Man picking dirt out of his ears.
It’s hardly difficult to see the connection between Sandman and Hydro-Man. Morris Bench’s powerset is almost identical to Flint Marko’s except that one of them can turn their body into sand at will, while the other can do the same with water.
Hydro-Man’s biggest claim to fame is featuring heavily in the nineties Spider-Man cartoon series, in which he appears as a stalker who is in love with Mary Jane – to the point of cloning a watery version of Peter’s then-girlfriend. This reveal comes right at the end of the show, essentially retconning all of the adventures that Peter and Mary Jane have had up to that point, including their wedding.
5. The Rose
Coming up with unique crime bosses can be a challenge. Every character in the Spider-Man universe needs to have some kind of gimmick, and even tangential heroes like Jackpot (basically a superhero Mary Jane, but with a different name and backstory, just to confuse things further) need adversaries to wage war on.
So how to make crime lord Phillip Hayes unique from all the other drug smugglers that fill the Marvel universe? The solution: stick a ski mask on him and call things good.
And so, The Rose has turned up in multiple comics, each time sporting an incredibly dull mask and a boring suit. In order to in some way justify his crime name, he occasionally wears a rose in his lapel, but it seems that this is optional, as just as often he doesn’t bother.
The Rose is currently deceased in the primary Marvel canon, presumably because the writers finally realized that he serves no unique story purpose that couldn’t be achieved by Hammerhead, Jimmy Six, Fortunato, or any other mob boss from the Spider-Man universe. That said, with comics, you’re never very far away from a pointless resurrection of an obscure character, so watch this space.
4. Human Fly
In the endless pursuit of finding a creepy crawly bug villain that perfectly matches Spider-Man’s powerset, comic audiences have been treated to the Human Fly, who is every bit as useless as he sounds. He has big compound bug eyes (the better to see himself getting punched) and long, incredibly fragile insect wings, that allow him to fly around, annoy people, and presumably get trapped in your living room on a hot summer’s day.
Apparently the creators of this particular villain were either unaware (or, more likely, simply didn’t care) that spiders eat flies, so pitting Spidey against a guy with bug eyes and wings would be like making Catwoman fight Catfoodman.
Fun fact: Stan Lee has stated that his original inspiration for Spider-Man was seeing a fly walking up a wall, and has said that his first instinct was to create a fly-themed superhero before realizing that this would be exceptionally dumb. Apparently the creators of the Human Fly didn’t get the memo.
Marvel writers have often been eager to pair up Spider-Man with villains who are similarly animal themed. But for every Lizard, Doctor Octopus, or Rhino, there are some less than fantastic attempts at this winning formula.
The Grizzly is a guy in a bear suit. That’s pretty much it. Maxwell Markham was once a professional wrestler, who lost his wrestling license thanks to an editorial written by J Jonah Jameson. Enraged, he gets hold of a powerful robotic exo-skeleton, and attacks the Daily Bugle to enact revenge. Dressed as a bear.
Why the bear suit was necessary is anybody’s guess, but the good news is that Markham didn’t stay a villain for very long. After Spider-Man foils his revenge attempt, he reforms, and then tries to use his bear costume for good as a superhero. Proving his ineptitude, he’s almost instantly captured by White Rabbit, before being rescued by (we’re not making this up) the Bombastic Bag Man, who is secretly Spider-Man with a paper bag over his head.
Remember that time Spider-Man fought a monkey? It’s exactly as uninspired as it sounds.
Gibbon isn’t a real monkey, but rather a mutant, who, like Wolverine is covered in hair and is very much in touch with his animal nature. Unlike Wolverine, though, Gibbon isn’t particularly good in a fight. He’s really basically just a monkey who can talk, and is yet another animal-themed character that Spidey’s had to face over the years.
Gibbon originally wanted to be Spider-Man’s sidekick, before being rejected by the Web Swinger, and teaming up with Kraven the Hunter out of spite. With his powers enhanced by a jungle potion, Gibbon attacks Spider-Man, and is still easily defeated – so instead, Gibbon teams up with Grizzly for a while before the pair turn hero and are captured by White Rabbit.
While the Kangaroo isn’t the most well known of Spider-Man’s enemies, he does have one claim to fame: he’s most often held up within the comics themselves as being a terrible villain.
The Kangaroo is an Australian immigrant to New York (because comics are nothing if not stereotypical) who is really good at jumping. Supposedly, someone at Marvel felt that this was enough of a power to underpin an entire supervillain identity.
It didn’t work, and the Kangaroo has gone down in history as a laughing stock within the Marvel universe. This notoriety, of course, has meant that generations of lazy writers have reached for this worthless supervillain whenever they’re having a hard time coming up with something fresh, meaning that he turns up far more often than he really should, each time appearing with pseudo irony as he’s mocked for being an uninspired, waste of space supervillain who doesn’t deserve the limelight he’s given.
Writing comic books is hard. Sure, you can invent an idea for a few good villains, but after years of throwing costume designs together, any writer is going to start running low on steam, and will inevitably resort to either coming up with a particularly lazy design, or recycling something made by someone else and pretending that it’s new.
For this reason, while we all prefer stories about Doctor Octopus or Carnage or even Electro, we should celebrate the lazier, dumber villains that exist within Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. These baddies might not be earth-shattering, but they’re the glue that has held the Marvel universe together over the past seventy years, and things simply wouldn’t be the same without them.
That said, it’s not like we want any of the villains on this list to appear in a movie any time soon. Unless it’s Mysterio, and he’s played by Bruce Campbell, which would instantly be worth the price of admission.