As a hero, Spider-Man is generally about restraint in many senses of the word. Even his signature weapon-- his homemade webbing-- is mostly used to hold and contain criminals, rather than cause them injury.
Spidey's superhumanly strong, but he keeps himself in check to honor his beloved Uncle Ben. The lesson Peter learns from his uncle's murder - “With great power there must also come great responsibility” becomes his guiding light in his crimefighting life as Spider-Man, with his guilt complex over the whole situation driving him to always be the hero, no matter what the personal cost.
Having said that, there have been times when Peter (and other Spider-Men) have been pushed past their mental and physical limits and taken things a little too far when it came to beating down the bad guys.
Whilst he's barely a blip on the Frank Castle/Punisher scale, there have been moments where Spider-Man has indulged his dark side and come dangerously close to becoming the villain himself. With all of this in mind, we decided to trawl through the archives and present you with some of the biggest beatdowns Spidey has ever delivered.
Here are the 15 Most Brutal Beatings Spider-Man Has Ever Dished Out.
15 The Goblin's last stand - The Amazing Spider-Man #122
The Amazing Spider-Man #122 features one of the all-time greatest battles between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, if only for the deeply personal stakes. Fresh from killing Gwen Stacy, Goblin escapes, leaving Peter raging and full of anguish.
He's understandably shaken and attacks the cops who approach Gwen's body. Not only that, but he's so driven by revenge he ignores the drug-addled Harry's pleas for company in his blinkered hunt for his girlfriend's murderer-- a very un-Peter-like thing to do.
When he does finally confront him, Parker holds nothing back, beating Gobby to within an inch of his life. Peter finally stops himself before he murders Osborn with his bare hands, but Norman has a trick up his green sleeves.
The remote controlled Goblin glider rises up behind Peter, ready for a deadly strike. Thanks to his Spider-senses, Parker dodges out of the way and Goblin ends up impaled on his own glider, slumping lifelessly to the ground. Peter notes how empty the Goblin's death feels and walks away to start rebuilding his life without Gwen.
14 Embarrassing the X-Men - Secret Wars #3
In Secret Wars, Marvel's heroes and villains find themselves transported to Battle World by the godlike Beyonder, who forces them all to fight each other, with the winner getting whatever they want.
Lines are soon drawn in the sand with Captain America leading the heroes and Dr. Doom heading up the villains. In Secret Wars #3, Spider-Man overhears the X-Men talking about the allegiances. Xavier concludes that they don't belong with the Avengers and must join Magneto.
Spidey doesn't like what he hears and crashes through a window to take out Cyclops and Xavier. As they're indoors, Storm's powers can't do much to take Spider-Man out and he proceeds to make the X-Men look foolish, literally swatting Wolverine away and webbing up Rogue and Nightcrawler with little effort.
As Spidey skips away to tell Reed Richards, Xavier admits that Spider-Man made them look like amateurs and wipes Peter's mind of his discovery before it spreads further. Whilst it isn't a particularly long or violent fight, it's a brutal defeat for the X-Men considering their combined might should be able to handle one measly Webhead.
13 Octavius fails to see the funny side - Superior Spider-Man #6
Longtime Spider-Man nemesis Otto Octavius, aka Doctor Octopus, found a way to finally put an end to Peter Parker in 2012. He transferred his mind into Peter's body, trapping Parker in the dying doctor's form.
Peter croaks and Otto becomes the new Spider-Man. However, Otto's idea of right and wrong is as twisted as a pretzel and soon people are questioning where this new attitude of Peter/Spider-Man is coming from.
In Superior Spider-Man #6, low-level prankster crooks Jester and Screwball hit Mayor J. Jonah Jameson with a pie to the face. Their online prank video goes viral and JJJ is incensed. He calls Spider-Man to track them down and Otto is happy to comply. He calibrates his city surveillance bots and lies in wait.
It isn't long before they show up and Otto attacks. The fight starts lighthearted enough, with Jester and Screwball hitting Spidey with their various gag weapons, but Otto becomes enraged and puts a rather unpleasant stop to the nonsense.
He webs the pair up, slamming them into a metal pole before using his redesigned suit's claws to rip and tear at helpless crooks. It's a markedly nasty beating and definitely unbecoming of a hero in the red and blue tights.
12 Tangling with Titania - Secret Wars #8
As well as being entertaining for the reader, Spidey's wisecracks also have a tactical purpose when facing off against enemies. Firstly, they project a sense of confidence, even if Peter doesn't feel it at the time. Secondly and most importantly, he uses them into goading his attacker into making mistakes. We can see this in action in Secret Wars #8, where he manages to nearly give Titania a mental breakdown with his annoying acrobatics and incessant gags.
Spidey stops Titania from dropping a massive metal beam on the assembled heroes and the two square off against each other. Despite being superhumanly strong, Titania's might comes up short against Spider-Man's incredible speed and agility.
She soon starts monologuing about how she used to be scrawny and how her powers have transformed her into being able to crush anyone who opposes her. Her words ring hollow as Spidey deftly dodges her every move, leading her to become more and more frustrated.
He eventually retaliates, landing a few blows before slinging her through the fortress wall with a “FWHA-BLAMM!” Titania tumbles to the jagged rocks below, landing hard and gurgling out the words “not fair” before falling unconscious.
11 Spidey vs. Morlun Round One - The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 #35
Amazing Spider-Man Vol.2 #30 saw the debut of Morlun, an interdimensional sort-of vampire that feeds off the energy of beings on the cosmic Spider-Totem (it's a long story). His thirst brings him to Earth 616 and he hunts Spider-Man.
Morlun is unlike any threat Parker has faced before, with insane strength and speed. Morlun tirelessly kicks the crap out of Peter on several occasions before Pete concocts a dangerous plan.
Peter injects himself with a radioactive agent to mess with his spider energy and when Morlun finds and attempts to drain him, he's severely weakened by a dose of pure radiation. After days of being mercilessly stomped by Morlun, Spidey seizes the opportunity and brutally beats him down.
Morlun begs for his life, leaving Peter in a serious quandary over what to do. His choice is made for him when Morlun's abused assistant shoots his former master, leaving Morlun to crumble to dust.
10 Vulture gets grounded - Superior Spider-Man #3
In Superior Spider-Man #3, Otto meets Adrian Toomes aka The Vulture with an interesting proposition. He offers him 50 million to leave town, but despite the offer being genuine, Toomes takes it as another one of Spider-Man's jokes and sets his Vulturelings after the webslinger.
Otto knocks one out of the air and it's revealed that the Vulturelings are actually children. Having endured an abusive childhood, a switch flicks in Otto's mind and he sees red.
Vulture takes to the skies,with Superior Spidey in hot pursuit. They grapple in the air before Octavius sets off the huge Spider-Signal searchlight on a nearby rooftop. The intense light blinds Toomes and Octavius steers his rapid descent into the spotlight itself, leaving Adrian blinded, broken, burned and bloodied.
This moment of brutality is so out of character for Spider-Man that it soon leads Carlie Cooper to believe that “Peter” isn't who he says he is.
9 Spidey vs. Morlun Round Two - Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #3
Peter finds himself in an impossible sitation in story arc “The Other." He's been diagnosed with a mystery terminal illness and is getting weaker by the day. On top of all that, Morlun returns from the dead, itching for a dose of revenge and Spider-Man's tasty life force.
Morlun proceeds to give Peter one of the biggest beatings of his life and gruesomely rips out his left eye. The broken Spidey is done for, but Morlun's ritual is interrupted by the police. Choosing to feed in private, Morlun splits and Peter is rushed to hospital.
Morlun returns later to Peter's bedside to finish what he started. Mary Jane tries to stop him, but Morlun callously breaks her arm. This prompts Peter to finally embrace his “other” side and he transforms into a spider creature, jumping from his bed to protect MJ.
He pins Morlun's arms to the floor with his new stingers and savages the vampire's throat using his also newly acquired razor sharp fangs. Morlun crumbles into dust once again and Peter returns to a more human-like state before dying in Mary Jane's arms. Any readers concerned for Spider-Man's wellbeing needn't have worried as Pete was reborn from a gross cocoon under a city bridge a mere two issues later.
8 Penthouse pummelling - The Spectacular Spider-Man #250
Norman Osborn seemingly comes back from the dead in Spidey story "Citizen Osborn" and soon sets about making Peter's life miserable. His Osborn Foundation keynote speech not only has him publicly distancing himself from the Green Goblin, but it also contains shots at Spider-Man, which immediately sticks in Peter's craw.
When they later meet for the first time since his resurrection, Norman brings up Gwen Stacy to rile Peter further. When Pete and MJ return to MJ's aunt's house, they find their room trashed with a little Goblin doll sitting atop the wreckage, holding a “Gotcha!” sign. Peter flies into a rage and suits up to take Osborn down.
Spidey crashes through Osborn's penthouse window and proceeds to unleash a superpowered butt-kicking. Norman doesn't appear to resist, but that doesn't stop Peter from beating the living daylights out of him, venting years of pent-up anger.
Osborn delights in the fact that Spider-Man has shown his true colors and Spidey realizes he's been played. The beatdown was caught on surveillance tape and Norman releases it for the world to see Spider-Man as the vicious criminal Osborn has always maintained he was.
7 Spider vs Scorpion - The Amazing Spider-Man #700
The fight between the heavily armored Scorpion and the supposedly superior Spider-Man doesn't last long, but it's over and done with in a vicious fashion. Spider-Ock swings down to protect Jonah Jameson's family and Mac Gargan turns his attention to the wall-crawler. Otto dodges Scorpion's deadly tail before cracking him square in the mouth. The force of the punch hits Gargan's jaw clean off to the shock of the assembled on-lookers.
Stunned by his own strength, Octavius realizes that Peter has been pulling his punches the entire time. It's a great moment that speaks volumes about Peter's character and how seriously he takes his great responsibility.
It also shows how unfit Otto is to take over from him. Jameson is so impressed with Spider-Man's aggression that he quickly switches to Team Spidey in time to be concerned when Doctor Octopus grabs his new best friend. Pro-tip: if J Jonah Jameson likes you, you're probably doing something wrong.
6 Final fight with Venom - The Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1
The 2015 Secret Wars event shook things up by destroying the multiverse and throwing the 616 universe and the Ultimate universe together into a patchwork reality known as Battleworld.
In Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, we catch up with Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson and are introduced to their young daughter Annie. Venom soon threatens Peter's family and the pair have a hellacious brawl in the street. Venom is weakened by MJ turning on a fire truck's siren and Peter takes the fight into a burning building to expose Brock to the suit's other weakness – fire.
Venom admits that Spider-Man has never shown this ferocity before and remarks that they should do it again. Peter has more permanent plans and brings the building down on top of the symbiote, killing it and host Eddie Brock. Once Peter emerges from the rubble, he's a changed man and he gives up being Spider-Man to focus on being a father.
5 Octavius disarmed - The Spectacular Spider-Man #75
After he thought her to be dead, Spidey is reunited with Black Cat in Spectacular Spider-Man #75. It transpires that Cat managed to escape Doc Ock's clutches and has stolen the detonator for a neutron bomb. Peter declares his love for Felicia, but before the two can get better acquainted, Ock bursts in to the apartment and takes the trigger and Miss Hardy with him
Spider-Man confronts Kingpin for some information and soon swings by Octavius's hideout. The bitter enemies fight, but Peter believes Ock has gone too far this time. Octavius is so blinkered in trying to kill Black Cat that Spidey is able to get a grip on his metal tentacles and literally rip them off.
It's a crazy show of strength and a weirdly violent moment for Spider-Man as he leaves Otto writhing in pain on the floor. Otto gets the last laugh however, as the tentacles work independently and pin Black Cat to a wall where she's struck by several spears.
Adding insult to injury, Peter webs up the tentacles and throws them into the Hudson before rushing Hardy to the hospital.
4 Fighting Firelord - The Amazing Spider-Man #270
Perhaps one of Spider-Man's more controversial wins, he battled former Galactic herald Firelord in Amazing Spider-Man #270. Despite having been shown to able to hold his own in fights against Thor and the X-Men, Firelord gets soundly whooped by Spidey.
In their brawl, he baits Firelord into charging into a gas station which predictably blows up in a violent explosion. Firelord is stunned, but not out for the count. Peter attacks him with a rare ferocity and rains down pain on the herald with a flurry of frenzied punches.
Spider-Man repeatedly batters Firelord, screaming that he'll never give up until he feels Captain America's hand on his shoulder. He snaps back to his senses and realizes the Avengers are stood around him and Firelord's unconscious form.
Losing control is a rarity for Spider-Man, so this one still sticks out as a noteworthy battle, even if some people believe the wrong guy won.
3 Kravinoff face-off - The Amazing Spider-Man #637
“The Grim Hunt” detailed the Kravinoff family's sinister plan to capture Madame Web and use her powers to find a way to resurrect Sergei aka Kraven the Hunter. They kill Parker clone Kaine and taunt Peter further with a note on his casket inviting him to hunt them. Pete dons his awesome black suit and tears off after them, seeking vengeance.
When he gets hold of Sasha, he uses his super-strength grip to tear off part of her face, leaving her screaming in agony. He then tackles Kraven and the pair have a huge brawl, with each man desperate to kill the other.
Peter gets the better of Kraven and is ready to strike the final blow when Arachne appears to him and shows him the consequences of continuing down the dark road he's on. He learns that killing Kraven would be the start of him turning into a murderous, selfish Spider-Man responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.
Peter chooses to spare Kraven before walking away, returning to his old self by dryly suggesting Kraven turn over a new leaf and become a dentist.
2 Crippling the Sin-Eater - The Spectacular Spider-Man #110
In “The Death of Jean DeWolff,” one of Spider-Man's closest allies, police detective Jean DeWolff, is murdered by a villain known as the Sin-Eater. Peter teams up with Daredevil to get to the bottom of the Sin-Eater murders to discover that detective Stan Carter was the man behind the mask.
Peter and Matt find out his next target: J. Jonah Jameson. They hurry to the Jameson household and sure enough, Sin-Eater is there, holding Jameson's wife and Betty Leeds (formerly Brandt) at gunpoint.
Spider-Man crashes through the window and attacks. Peter doesn't give Sin-Eater a moment to breathe, let alone retaliate, breaking the shotgun over his knee and beating Carter down to the floor. Spidey's assault continues even after Stan's fallen into unconsciousness and Daredevil has to step in to prevent Peter from making a grave mistake.
Still raging, Pete attacks Murdock instead. The two fight until Matt gains the upper hand and knocks him out, albeit briefly. Spider-Man's brutal attack on Sin-Eater left Stan Carter crippled and in need of round-the-clock care whilst in prison. Peter can be genuinely vicious when properly provoked and it's a lesson Stan Carter wouldn't forget in a hurry.
1 Dethroning the Kingpin - The Amazing Spider-Man #542
Many of the entries so far have been pretty graphic and have showcased Spider-Man in a rather negative light, having lost control of himself in a rather unheroic manner. However, Peter's face-off with the Kingpin in Amazing Spider-Man #542 is a fully justified ass-kicking that's as righteous as it is awesome.
After Peter revealed his identity to the world in Civil War, every villain knows where to find him. Wilson Fisk sends an assassin to kill Peter, but the bullet strikes Aunt May instead. May is rushed to hospital in critical condition and Peter swings over to Riker's Island for some payback.
When he finds Kingpin, he's light on the wisecracks but heavy with his fists, tenderizing Fisk with repeated blows to the face. Spidey strips to the waist, telling Kingpin that this is personal and he wants to defeat him as Peter Parker.
He beats Fisk to the ground multiple times before slapping and generally humiliating him in front of the assembled prisoners. He threatens to murder Kingpin if Aunt May doesn't pull through and warns the inmates that he'll come for them too if they ever go near his family. It's an awesome (but necessary) show of power and is Spider-Man at his most brutal and badass.
Can you think of any other times that Spider-Man completely crossed the line? Let us know in the comments!