A hero is only as good as his villain. In Spider-Man’s case, this iconic slogan bodes miraculously with the comic book character. Not only does our friendly-neighborhood web-slinger have the largest rogues gallery out of any Marvel superhero, but he fights some of the most interesting, likable, and powerful bad guys in the Marvel universe. From the ruthless Green Goblin, to the four-armed Doctor Octopus, to the virulent Venom, Spider-Man certainly has a lot of worthy foes.
On that note, it seems very improbable that Spidey would come out victorious out of every battle, even though he has proved himself a very capable hero over the years. Comic book readers know that Spider-Man endured a steep learning curve on his journey to becoming one of the greatest heroes around, one that’s included a beating or two on occasion. In fact, there are many villains from Spidey’s rogue gallery that have gained the upper hand on the wall-crawler on multiple occasions.
Here is our list of 15 Supervillains That Have Defeated Spider-Man.
15. Attacked By Prisoners (New Avengers Vol. 1 #2)
Right after the events of Avengers: Disassembled, things didn’t look as bright as they usually do in the Marvel Universe. In the beginning of Breakout!: Part 2, Captain America and Spider-Man witnessed Electro cause a massive explosion on the Raft during his escape from the supervillain prison. Cap tells Spidey to stay put and wait for the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to take care of the mess, but when the web-slinger feels guilty seeing other people in harm’s way, he ignores Cap’s orders.
However, he quickly regrets not listening when he gets knocked down a hole by Count Nefaria, a hole which contains a group of deadly supervillains. Considering some of these criminals were locked away by Spider-Man, he is quickly pounced on. After teasing Jigsaw with his trademark quipy humor, the villain breaks his arm and rips off his mask. Luckily for Spidey, S.H.I.E.L.D. came to save the day and rescue our hero, but not before he caught a massive beating that, hopefully, taught him a lesson or two.
14. Scorpion (Amazing Spider-Man #20)
While this defeat may not be one of the most brutal marks in Spidey’s loss column, it is certainly a classic. In the 20th issue of The Amazing Spider-Man series, the Scorpion makes his first appearance — and leaves a deadly first impression. The villain was actually a creation of J. Jonah Jameson’s, as the Daily Bugle editor outfitted a mutated Mac Gargan with a special armored suit and a deadly tail in order to defeat Spider-Man.
The angry and superpowered man attacked ole web-head outside of the Daily Bugle, and Spider-Man barely held up against the Scorpion, so he shot him with his webbing in order to slow him down. The pinchers on the new baddie’s suit cut the webbing, and it was thrown back at the wall-crawler. Lying in defeat, our hero is tossed in a crate by the Scorpion, who then proclaimed his victory. Spider-Man eventually re-gained his strength long after the villain had left, and he even defeats him at the end of the issue (and in pretty much every subsequent issue), but readers will never forget that Scorpion scored the first victory.
13. Vulture (Blackie Drago) (Amazing Spider-Man #48)
While it seems like this high-flying baddie may give the web-slinger a run for his money in Spider-Man: Homecoming in a couple of weeks, this wouldn’t be the first time the Vulture has swooped in and defeated Spidey. In fact, even the lesser-known Blackie Drago version of the villain beat Spider-Man. In The Amazing Spider-Man #48, Adrian Toomes (the original Vulture) was on his death bed after an “accident” committed by his cellmate, Blackie Drago. It turns out that Drago had actually planned it, because he knew that Toomes would reveal the location of the Vulture suit if he thought he was dying — allowing Drago to use the suit himself when he escapes prison.
Drago eventually breaks out and takes up the mantle of the Vulture at a very inconvenient time for Spider-Man. Peter has been coming down with a nasty cold from his recent encounters in the winter season. Even though the web-head is very sick, when he hears that the Vulture is on the loose again, he foolishly sets out to track him down. The new Vulture and Spidey have an exhilarating encounter, which ends up with the villain overpowering the web-slinger and throwing him onto a rooftop, leaving the hero unconscious in the snow.
12. Sandman & Venom (Spider-Man 3)
While the third act of Spider-Man 3 is usually criticized for being too over-the-top and crowded, it does do something that no other Spider-Man film has: the wall-crawler loses the big final battle. After barely defeating the Green Goblin in the first film and becoming the hero of the city in the sequel, Spidey comes up short both physically and mentally at the end of Spider-Man 3.
While trying to save Mary-Jane from her impending doom and fighting two hyper-powerful villains at the same time, Spider-Man had a very hard time keeping his head up. Eventually, he gets cornered by the nefarious duo, and Venom ties him down to a support beam while the colossally-sized Sandman pummels the hero with his giant deadly fist to the point where our hero’s knocking at death’s door.
Right before Sandman delivers his last and final blow to kill the Spider, Harry Osborne throws a pumpkin bomb at Sandman’s head and saves his old pal Peter’s life. The final battle continues and both villains are defeated, but Spider-Man loses again when Harry sacrifices his life for him. It was a pretty crappy day all-around for the web-slinger.
11. Thanos (The Infinity Gauntlet)
This huge defeat goes for practically every single Marvel superhero, but it still deserves to be accounted for. The Infinity Gauntlet is one of the most iconic Marvel storylines of all-time, and it will be used as a foundation for Avengers: Infinity War next year. In the fourth issue of the series, Adam Warlock gathers basically every superhero around in the hopes that their combined efforts would be enough to defeat the Mad Titan.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t go well, as Thanos defeats each superhero one-by-one without breaking a sweat thanks to the unlimited power the Gauntlet has granted him. To Spider-Man’s credit, he was one of the final superheroes standing. On the other hand, the web-slinger was ultimately taken out after getting a rock thrown at his head.
10. Doctor Octopus (Amazing Spider-Man #3)
How could you write a list of Spider-Man’s biggest defeats without forgetting to mention his very first loss? Only three issues into his comic book run, Spidey goes up against the nefarious Doctor Octopus for the first time and ends up on the losing end. In the issue, Otto Octavius’ experiment goes horribly wrong and his mechanical arms fuse to his body and take over his brain. Dr. Octopus forcibly takes over the hospital and taking the hospital staff as captives in his first villainous act.
J. Jonah Jameson sends Peter Parker to go take pictures of the unnatural event, and when he sees staff members in danger, Spider-Man jumps into action. He tries his best to stop Octavius and his maniacal tentacles, but ultimately, Doc Ock snaps his webbing, overpowers the hero, and throws him out of the hospital window, where he barely maintains consciousness. After a motivational speech from the Human Torch, Spider-Man regains his self-confidence and defeats his new tentacled foe, but this issue will always symbolize how powerful Doctor Octopus really is.
9. Harry Osborn (Amazing Spider-Man #369)
Back in the 1990s, Marvel Comics decided to introduce a bold storyline: bringing Peter Parker’s parents back to life. Ever since their return, the following issues hinted at a bigger picture, and that things weren’t quite as they seemed. In the end, the plot ended with a twist, with both of Peter’s parents being revealed as androids after they “die”. It turns out that before his own death, Harry Osborn employed the Chameleon to construct these “fake” versions of Peter’s parents with the goal of driving him insane, just like he did when his father died.
After an epic confrontation with the Chameleon, Spider-Man found a video file that contained a mind-boggling clip. It showcased the Green Goblin teasing Peter and telling him that this was all a manipulative plot set up by him long before his death. In the end, this scheme was actually pretty successful, as Peter went insane from the shock and began to reject who he really was until Peter’s clone, Ben Reilly, aided him in coming back to reality. Nevertheless, the Goblin’s plot had a huge impact on Spider-Man, even after he snapped out of his deranged behavior.
8. Doctor Doom (Amazing Spider-Man #350)
Doctor Doom is one of Marvel’s most powerful villains of all-time, so it’s not surprising that he’s gained the upper hand on Spider-Man before. In Amazing Spider-Man #349 and #350, Spider-Man is tracking down a thief known as Black Fox. By the end of the first issue, the burglar realizes that he has stolen from the wrong person: Victor von Doom! The Black Fox had swiped and sold the Dragon Egg, which belonged to Doom’s mom; it’s one of the last mementos the Latverian monarch has to remember his dear mother.
When Spider-Man allows the Black Fox to escape out of pure pity, Doctor Doom unleashes his full power and practically pulverizes the web-slinger. Unable to think straight due to a major concussion and numerous injuries, Spidey saved his own life by convincing Doom to give him 24 hours to locate the thief and return the Dragon Egg to him. The villain agreed to his terms, but made it very clear that he would kill both Spider-Man and the Black Fox if the web-head failed his mission. Luckily, Doctor Doom got his Dragon Egg back, and all was well.
7. Jester & Jack O’Lantern (Civil War)
Civil War is an extraordinary storyline that pins Captain America and Iron Man against each other while Spider-Man plays middle-man. While the web-slinger started off on Team Iron Man at first, he eventually realized that Tony Stark was using his “Iron Spidey” suit to spy on him, and that most most of the superhumans at the Raft were being held without trial. Both of these circumstances influenced Spider-Man to rebel against the Superhuman Registration Act and swap loyalties.
Unfortunately, this did not end well for the hero, for when he fled into the sewers, Iron Man sent some of Spidey’s old foes to go and find him. When Jester and Jack O’Lantern encountered the web-slinger in the sewer, the wall-crawler ended up getting pummeled. At the last minute, the Punisher rained on the villain’s parade and saved our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man before things got any worse. After this, it’s hard to imagine Peter Parker ever questioning whether he made the right move by joining up Team Cap.
6. Electro (Marvel Knights: Spider-Man #3)
Have you ever complained about Marvel Comics being too light-toned? The Marvel Knights comic book series had the goal of creating darker and more mature storylines for their characters, including Spider-Man. In the wall-crawler’s series, a mysterious villain learns the identity of Spider-Man, destroys Uncle Ben’s grave, and kidnaps Aunt May. Desperate to find his beloved aunt, Peter Parker does everything he can to discover just who this sick criminal might be. He went so far as to take a tip from the Owl, who told Spidey that Electro and the Vulture are the villains behind it all.
When Spider-Man went to confront the two villains, Adrian Toomes ran away out of fear, as he didn’t have his costume on-hand. Luckily for Electro, he had a brand new costume ready to go, and he went head-to-head with Spider-Man in an epic fight. When Electro was at Spidey’s mercy, the villain told him that the Owl had played him, and that he and the Vulture had nothing to do with this. The stunned Spider-Man was then electric shocked clean off of the rooftop. Spidey was unable to activate his web-shooters and eventually fell onto a car roof, and he had to be rushed to the hospital.
5. The Sinister Six (Revenge of the Sinister Six)
If Spider-Man has been conquered 1-on-1 by some of these villains, then you can imagine how badly the Sinister Six could beat him up. In the Revenge of the Sinister Six story-arc, we see the five remaining members of the villainous team turn against Doctor Octopus. The Sinister Five (doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, does it?) tricks Sandman into joining their rebellion, but Spider-Man watches closely, as Sandman is afraid that they will double-cross him. In the end, Doctor Octopus and his new adamantium tentacles defeats Electro, Mysterio, Vulture, and Hobgoblin with no problem.
When Doctor Octopus gets to Spider-Man and Sandman, things don’t bode too well for them either. Doc Ock turned Sandman’s body into glass thanks to his new invention, and then goes to fight our hero. In the end, Octopus smashes Spidey through every surrounding surface in sight and tossed his unconscious body out of the window and into the harbor. In fact, Spider-Man is brutalized so badly that he ends up needing a bionic arm and eyepiece from Deathlok.
4. Morlun (Amazing Spider-Man Vol.2 #30)
While Spider-Man comics aren’t usually too mystical, that doesn’t mean some spooky things haven’t occurred over the years. For instance, the web-slinger was told in The Amazing Spider-Man Vol.2 #30 by a man named Ezekiel that his powers weren’t an accident, and the spider that bit him did it to pass its abilities onto the next host before it died. He also told Spidey that he was in danger from inter-dimensional beings who would want to drain the powers of and destroy people like Spider-Man. When a man named Morlun arrives on the scene, the wall-crawler quickly learns that everything Ezekiel said was true — much to his surprise.
Morlun then punched Spidey straight into the side of a car, which our hero describes as the hardest punch he’d ever felt in his life. The new-on-the-scene supervillain informed Spider-Man that he could find him anywhere, and he will eventually kill him. He certainly lived up to his word, repeatedly finding Spider-Man and beating the living crap out of our favorite superhero, over-and-over again. Spidey eventually figures out that dosing himself with a massive amount of radiation would drain Morlun of his powers, but he’d had his ass handed to him a few times before he got wise.
3. Kraven the Hunter (Web of Spider-Man #31)
Kraven’s Last Hunt is undoubtedly one of the best Spider-Man comic series that Marvel has released to date. The story features a more seasoned Kraven the Hunter, who has dueled with the web-slinger a countless amount of times. In Web of Spider-Man #31, the first part of the iconic mini-series, Kraven decides that he’ll have to step up his game if he ever wants to come out on top, so he goes out on one last mission — to kill Spider-Man once and for all.
When Spidey and Kraven fight, the antagonist shoots the web-crawler with a dart, hits him with a pole, and captures his prey in a net. Donning his symbiotic suit, Spider-Man isn’t all that afraid, because he thinks Kraven will just leave him there until he escapes and defeats him again. However, he quickly realizes that Kraven isn’t fooling around this time when he shoots Spider-Man with a rifle and buries him in a grave. Eventually, Spidey “rises from the dead”, but that doesn’t negate the fact that Kraven beat Spider-Man as soundly as anyone else has before or since.
2. Green Goblin (Amazing Spider-Man #121)
There is a reason the Green Goblin is Spider-Man’s arch-nemesis, because at the end of the day, the villain has always defeated Spidey in the biggest and most heart-wrenching ways. This one, however, will likely forever stand as the villain’s most infamous win. Amazing Spider-Man #121 is one of the best issues revolving around the Green Goblin, as it truly showed us what a menacing and capable villain he really is.
Peter Parker hoped that the “Green Goblin” would stay hidden beneath Norman Osborn’s sub-conscious, but his nightmare became reality when his foe returned in his full-fledged form and killed Gwen Stacy, Peter’s true love, by pushing her off the George Washington Bridge without hesitation. This moment has haunted Spider-Man for the rest of his career, and it was a huge win for the Goblin (and an even bigger loss for the web-slinger).
1. Green Goblin (Death of Spider-Man)
The biggest defeat in Spider-Man’s career is obviously the time he was killed (well, the one that stuck for a while, anyway). In the last issue of Ultimate Spider-Man, we see our hero and the giant Green Goblin face-off after Peter took a bullet meant for Captain America and fought off Kraven the Hunter, Sandman, Vulture, and Electro. Given this, when he goes to fight a giant goblin, the situation will probably end in disaster. The two foes have a vicious fight, and when The Goblin then attempts to finish his nemesis off, Mary-Jane rams a huge truck right into him.
Spidey throws MJ and puts her in a web and continues to fight his ultimate foe. Using the last of his strength, Spider-Man bashes the Goblin and throws a truck onto him, which ends up exploding and engulfing Norman Osborn in flames. Unfortunately, this blast ends up sending Peter flying back and landing awkwardly on his neck. MJ holds the dying Peter Parker in her arms and he shares a heart-wrenching moment with Aunt May and MJ, telling them he’s glad that he was able to save them. After Peter dies, Miles Morales picks up the Spider-Man mantle in the Ultimate comics.
What other times do you guys remember Spider-Man getting defeated in the comics? Let us know in the comments.
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