“With great power comes great responsibility.” Spider-Man‘s famous motto explains his need to sacrifice his own desires in order to protect others. But the catalyst for Peter’s iconic line comes from the death of his Uncle Ben, an incident Pete blames himself for after he neglected to stop a criminal when he had the chance. No one else would blame Peter for the tragedy, but he blames himself, and he’s determined to make sure no one else dies because of his choices. The problem is, a lot of people have.
Like Batman and Superman, Spider-Man has a policy against killing. But heroes always have trouble sticking to that rule. Right now, comic fans are wondering if Miles Morales really killed Captain America in Civil War II, but we know for a fact that the various incarnations of Spider-Man definitely do have blood on their hands. Even the best of heroes abuse their power at times, leading to these 15 Times Spider-Man Has Killed People.
15. VENOM AND THE SINISTER SIX (EARTH 70237)
The first kill for this topic actually occurs in another timeline, because while nearly all of the various Spider-Men have gotten their hands bloody at one point or another, the main timeline’s Peter at least tries to abstain from killing his longtime opponents. And Venom is the epitome of Spider-Man’s rivals in the eyes of many fans, so it makes sense that it would take the symbiote to push Peter beyond the threshold of killing.
Peter was an old man in this timeline, and Mary Jane had already passed on due to contact with his radioactive body. But even in his later years, Peter couldn’t rest, because Venom once again appeared and even enlisted the Sinister Six to work alongside him. The Sandman in particular did not have the heart for a life of crime anymore, and revealed to Peter that the Sinister Six had had bombs implanted in their bodies to ensure their cooperation with Venom. Sandman gives Peter the detonator, who promptly blows up the villainous group and puts a definitive end to his longtime foes.
Something you’ll quickly realize with this topic is that heroes and fans seem to be a lot more comfortable with a villain being killed off as long as it’s not someone who has been around for a while. One-shot villains tend to be quickly forgotten, since we spend so little time getting to know them that it’s hard to find enough in them to make fans really care. Comic writers have used that to place heroes in situations where they can’t seem to avoid killing someone, but it’s also portrayed as not a very big deal, since they were no one important.
In this case, the expendable villain was known as the Finisher. He was a hitman hired by the Red Skull and set to take out Spider-Man for good. It’s unclear why Red Skull thought the guy was such a great assassin though, since Finisher’s big attempt is to launch missiles at Spider-Man and hope for the best. But of course, one of Spider-Man’s strongest traits is his agility, which allows him to simply dodge the missiles and send them back at the Finisher for an explosive demise.
13. DROM THE BACKWARDS MAN
Of all the powers a villain could have, aging back into childhood like Benjamin Button doesn’t seem like the most useful one. And yet Drom the Backwards Man could do just that, slowly shedding the twilight years of his life and becoming younger. He also just happened to be a villain though, which attracted the attention of not just Spider-Man, but also his buddy Iron Fist.
Drom warns the heroes not to damage his mirror, but they ignore his cautions to his detriment. It turns out that the mirror Drom has controls his aging process, and when it winds up getting smashed, Drom de-ages right out of existence. Spider-Man at least has the grace to show some remorse for this happening, but who knows? Maybe Spider-Man was lurking in the shadows when Brad Pitt was acting in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and is to blame for that tragic ending as well.
12. DOCTOR OCTOPUS (EARTH 312500)
Though fans often discuss whether superheroes should kill in terms of whether it’s practical or not, there are still legal consequences even for people with heightened abilities. This version of Spider-Man was a reminder of that for the main timeline’s Spider-Man, who was being given a glimpse into a possible future he could have had. The Spider-Man of Earth 312500 made the choice to kill early on, starting with Kraven, and rather than reduce his number of enemies, it multiplied them.
The heroes of this future grew to fear and distrust this murderous Spider-Man and exiled him from the Avengers. He continued along his path by killing Doctor Octopus as well, driving one of Ock’s own tentacles through the villain’s heart. This act of murder put Spider-Man in the crosshairs of the police. He had none of his heroic friends to turn to, citizens feared him, and eventually, even Aunt May passed away and left him with no one. This Earth’s Spider-Man was finally gunned down while he was visiting Aunt May’s grave and he refused to surrender.
Wolverine doesn’t make friends easily, so it was a rare turn when he went out of his way to protect a woman name Charlemagne who was being hunted by the KGB. Charlie, as was her nickname, knew too much from working for the KGB and had been deemed a liability that had to be eliminated. But eventually, she realized that even Wolverine wasn’t enough to keep her safe, so she finally asked him to be the one to kill her so her life could end on her own terms.
As Wolverine prepared to do as Charlie requested, Spider-Man got involved to try and stop Logan from becoming a killer (like he wasn’t already). Wolverine’s typically antisocial side resurfaced here, and he began to fight with Spider-Man for getting involved in his business. Charlie had already made up her mind though, so she quickly put together a plan to end her life. Realizing that Spider-Man was on guard, she surprised him from behind and caused him to react by instinctively striking out. Spidey quickly realized his mistake, but it was too late, and the super strength of his blow had killed Charlie.
10. GREEN GOBLIN (EARTH 21205)
The people who carry the Spider-Man mantle in alternate timelines seem to frequently try making a go of it without the original’s sense of morality. The main timeline’s Peter Parker often avoids killing his longtime opponents even to his own detriment, while the Spider-Man of Earth 21205 shows how eliminating an enemy can cause its own problems. This timeline plays out similarly with many of the key moments in Peter’s life, except for his reaction to Gwen Stacy’s death. The original Spider-Man still carries the burden of that day, but Earth 21205 Spider-Man sought vengeance instead.
The alternate timeline Peter Parker viciously kills the Green Goblin in retaliation for taking Gwen away from him. But rather than finding peace, Peter instead drifts away from his Spider-Man identity. Like Harry Osborn originally took over the villainous mantle from his father Norman, Peter decides to take on the guise of his own enemy. This new alter-ego is one that Peter simply calls the Goblin, and he eventually realizes the irony of his decision — he had become the very monster he hated.
When you think about it, a lot of heroes could easily kill the villains they face if they wanted to. Comic book villains frequently seem to just rely on the merciful nature of the protagonist to hold back and not use their full strength. There are plenty of examples of the bad things that happen when heroes aren’t actively looking out for the well-being of their opponents, and this battle Spider-Man had against Whisper is one of them.
This was actually a two-on-one battle for Peter, with him facing off against two short-lived villains named Whisper and Pulse. Apparently the duo wasn’t the best at collaborating, because Spider-Man dodged Pulse’s energy blasts and eventually elected to grab Whisper as his human shield. It’s hard to justify Spidey deliberately killing a guy by using him to block a fatal shot. But what makes this incident even worse is that not only was Whisper killed, but after this encounter, Pulse decided to kill himself.
Don’t expect to see Spider-Man ever killing the illusionist Mysterio, but there was one magician he crossed paths with whom he had no problems with taking out. This was after the death of Gwen Stacy, and Peter went looking for a place to relax for a while after the big loss he had experienced. Unfortunately, he instead encountered a bizarre ally in Werewolf By Night, who he was forced to work with to take down an evil magician named Moondark.
The whole situation was a strange turn from dealing with the fallout of Gwen’s death, and it only got weirder when Spidey came up against the villainous magic user. The battle winds up leading to Spider-Man knocking Moondark through a portal, and the magician being transported high above Golden Gate Bridge. Apparently Moondark couldn’t whip up any levitation spells in time, because he soon fell to his death only for Spidey to nonchalantly quip, “Even I can’t hang around cryin’ over spilt magicians.”
7. VULTURE (EARTH 90214)
Many popular heroes have multiples timelines devoted to their characters, and Spider-Man is no different. The comics of Spider-Man Noir immediately set themselves apart from the Spider-Man of the main timeline by having a darker aesthetic set during the time the mob and detective stories were at the height of their popularity. This was further emphasized by the reimagined death of Uncle Ben, who in this timeline is killed and eaten by the Vulture at the behest of the Green Goblin.
The Vulture would soon target this timeline’s version of Aunt May as well, and had his sights set on killing her next. But this Spidey had been waiting and dreaming of his chance for revenge against his uncle’s killer, so he was prepared when Vulture showed up in his life again. This Spider-Man had no sympathy for a killer targeting his family, and made sure the Vulture would never have another opportunity to do so, saving Aunt May and ending the villain’s life instead.
6. MODULAR MAN
A lot of comic book team-ups are just about creating a fun story that pairs two unlikely heroes from the same universe together, and Spider-Man teaming together with the X-Men certainly has the ingredients to be that kind of story. Peter has worked with Xavier’s mutants numerous times in the past. It’s a pretty natural combination, seeing as how he himself could arguably be considered a mutant. But in this case, the alliance between the two franchises took a bit of a dark turn with the death of another villain.
With a name like Modular Man, it’s not like this villain was ever going to become a top tier character. But it’s not like the guy deserved to be shocked to death with an electrical gauntlet either. Spider-Man has even spoken against killing a psychopath like Carnage, but he couldn’t find a nonlethal method to take down Modular Man with the X-Men at his side? But at least unlike some of the other incidents in this topic, Spider-Man showed some remorse this time around. While later reflecting on the choice with Beast he says, “I know it was necessary and we didn’t have a choice, but I don’t have to like it!”
Much like when Azrael took over as Batman, the Superior Spider-Man issues featuring Marvel’s iconic character showed a stark contrast between the original hero and the successor. In this case though, Peter didn’t give up his identity willingly, but rather had his entire body hijacked by the terminally ill Doctor Octopus. And yet, even with Doc Ock in control, he couldn’t shed Peter’s memories and conscience, and this compelled Otto to strive towards becoming a true hero. He wasn’t content with simply carrying on the Spider-Man mantle, mind, you; he set out to be the greatest web-slinger ever. Which apparently meant ensuring that criminals never had a chance to kill twice.
This new Spidey came across the brutal villain Massacre, a man who had no problem casually shooting civilians. He was someone Peter had come across before, and when Otto captured the criminal, he immediately saw the dilemma that Massacre would eventually just get out of prison again and continue living up to his name. So the new Spider-Man did what his predecessor refused to do and ended Massacre’s life by shooting him in the head.
While it’s debatable whether something that is already dead can be killed, we know there are many stories where undead people have all the same emotions and thoughts that a living person does. The being known as Digger was not a human by any means, but he was still capable of thought and speech. Digger was a mish mash of various mobsters who had come together out of their united desire for revenge, but even this zombie-like entity could still communicate with Spider-Man.
Nonetheless, Spider-Man didn’t view Digger as a living being. He rationalized that as a zombie, Digger was already dead, so he felt no remorse about ending the villain’s existence. Spider-Man realized the longer Digger fought, the more his body deteriorated, so he deliberately prolonged his fight against Digger until the resurrected mobsters fell apart. So apparently it’s a good thing Morbius is specifically mentioned to be a living vampire, or he might be fair game too.
When people think of vampires in the Spider-Man stories, they probably think of the dark and brooding Morbius. While Morbius was a good person who was driven to villainy by his bloodlust, there have also been outright evil vampires in the comics too. Or at least there are if your definition of vampire is an undead-looking person who enjoys consuming blood.
It was never quite clear what Morlun’s species was exactly, but all Spider-Man cared about was that this guy wanted to drink his radioactive blood. And in the story Spider-Man: The Other, Spider-Man was dying and lying in a hospital bed, and Morlun figured that he had found the ideal window in which to strike. But the force causing Peter to die also suddenly granted him new powers, including an animalistic transformation that allowed him to attack Morlun with stingers his body had developed (not unlike those that some species of spider have). Once Morlun was pinned, Peter used his newfound spider fangs to bite into Morlun’s throat and kill him. And Morlun was thinking he’d be the one biting into someone’s neck. Silly vampire.
2. ALISTAIR SMYTHE
Another act of brutality committed by the Superior Spider-Man was when this body-swapped version of Doctor Octopus took on longtime villain Alistair Smythe. The killing of Massacre was already a shock to readers, but at the same time, Massacre was also a small-time villain in the grand scheme of things. Smythe didn’t exactly make the top tier of Spidey’s villains either, but he was someone fans had known for many years. But that didn’t stop the Superior Spider-Man from claiming his life.
The fight between the two played out in the typical fashion of a Spider-Man fight, with Alistair getting the worse end of it and on the verge of total defeat. Then Alistair revealed he had sent Scorpion and Vulture out to kill civilians in two separate locations, and the wall-crawler would have to make a choice of who to save. But Otto again showed how different he was by choosing to not even treat saving people as a priority if it meant abandoning a chance to finish an enemy. The Superior Spider-Man puts an end to Alistair, and even resists a mind swap (like what Otto did to Peter), thus ensuring Alistair was done for good.
1. GWEN STACY
The most famous case of a life lost at the hands of Spider-Man was a total accident, but the fact remains that Peter’s actions are what ended Gwen Stacy’s life. With how often movies and comics stretch the rules of reality, fans try not to devote too much thought to the physics of how something like web-slinging would work. In this case, reality was in play in full force, and Peter’s webs obeyed logic to a tragic extent.
When the Green Goblin threw Gwen off a bridge, Peter did what he does best and shot out a line of web to stop her from falling to her death. At first he believed he had saved her, but once he had her in his arms he realized the sudden stop to her fall had created a whiplash effect. By trying to save her, Peter had broken Gwen’s neck. In fairness, she was probably going to die no matter what happened in this situation, but Peter can’t help but hold himself accountable, since his actions were the direct cause of her death.
Spider-Man has always had great power, but these incidents didn’t show his most responsible side. Were any of these incidents justifiable to you? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Spider-Man: Homecoming will be in theaters on July 7, 2017.