There have been six Spider-Man movies since 2002, but there's something unique about Spider-Man: Homecoming, other than the fact that it takes place in a world full of superheroes: it's the first Spidey movie yet that hasn't had a little touch of Goblin in it.
Sure, not every Spider-Man movie so far has had an actual Goblin it. But the legacy of Norman Osborn stretches far and wide, and Osborn played a role in every web-slinging film to date, even after his death in both franchises. This isn't so surprising, since Norman Osborn is widely seen as Peter's most personal enemy, but we definitely can't blame Homecoming for taking a break and giving the spotlight to all-new villains. The upcoming sequel is set to do the same, but how long will it be before Osborn pops his familiar green face into the MCU?
However, Norman Osborn isn't the only Goblin who has been known to give Spidey a headache. There's also the Hobgoblin, of course, but even that orange-hooded nemesis is just the beginning. The Goblin legacy has been a major thorn in Spider-Man's side, with countless individuals who have hopped on a glider, thrown some pumpkin bombs, and carved our their own Goblin identity. Here are 15 Goblins Spider-Man Has Fought (Who Aren't Norman Osborn).
Believe it or not, Norman Osborn actually wasn't the first Goblin. Some years before he went green with evil, Osborn tested what would come to be known as the "goblin serum" on one of his employees.
That employee, Nels Van Adder, doesn't do too well with the serum (well, neither did Norman, but that's another story). The serum transforms Van Adder into a hulking, red-skinned monster, which starts killing people in a mindless rage. Before Van Adder can kill Norman, the beast is knocked out of a window by the timely arrival of Captain George Stacy and his brother Arthur. The Proto-Goblin fled the scene after that, and has never been seen since, so technically, Van Adder has never actually encountered Spider-Man — yet. But he is a Goblin.
You'd think this experiment gone awry would've been enough to put a stop to Norman's plotting, but unfortunately, the Goblin saga had just begun.
Probably the most well known and unfortunate victim of Norman Osborn is his son, Harry. Harry is mistreated and ignored by his workaholic father for all of his life, and when Norman dies, Harry can't handle it. After a bout with drugs, failed relationships, and discovering the true identities of both his father and his best friend, Peter Parker, Harry swears vengeance on Spider-Man, the man he deems responsible for his father's death. He becomes the Green Goblin, and attempts to kill Peter.
Harry fades in and out of the Goblin identity, with both sides of him fighting for control. At the end, he sacrifices himself to save his best friend's life.
Harry, of course, was played by James Franco in all three Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, which charted his rise and fall. He was also played by Dane DeHaan in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
Harry wasn't the last person to become the Green Goblin. There's also this guy, Dr. Bart Hamilton, who wins the award for worst psychiatrist of all time.
Hamilton, as it turns out, is actually Harry's psychiatrist, and when Harry spills his guts regarding the Goblin identity, the gear, and the hideouts, Hamilton decides to investigate for himself. Discovering that everything Harry claims is true, Hamilton comes to believe that he is the only one truly worthy of riding the goblin glider, so he hijacks Harry's old costume and weapons, becoming the Green Goblin himself. This leads to a battle with Spider-Man, which is then joined by Harry as well.
Dr. Hamilton's Goblin career is short lived, as he accidentally kills himself with a bomb meant for Spider-Man. His death, however, opened the door for this guy...
Out of the many successors to Norman Osborn's identity, arguably the most calculating, intimidating, and intelligent of them all is Roderick Kingsley, the original Hobgoblin. When he was first introduced, the mystery of Hobgoblin's true identity was the big story in Spider-Man comics, and after Kingsley framed Ned Leeds, it wasn't until many years later where the truth finally came out.
The key to Hobgoblin's success is that unlike Norman, Harry, Bart, and the others, Kingsley is not insane. He's just as crafty, just as meticulous, but he's also pragmatic, goal-oriented, and doesn't mess around. Kingsley himself is out for power, not vengeance or anything so silly, and he'll do whatever it takes to get it. In his regular life, he's a billionaire fashion designer, which definitely explains why he'd see fit to redesign Osborn's old costume.
While Hobgoblin has never quite seized the mantle of "Spider-Man's archenemy" from the Green Goblin, he's come closer than most.
After Roderick Kingsley frames Ned Leeds as the Hobgoblin and quietly retires to the background, the orange cape and hood are left open for grabs. That grabber ends up being Jason Macendale, a violent, manic, and enthusiastic mercenary who had previously gone by the name Jack O' Lantern.
Macendale is the Hobgoblin for a long time, but never quite lives up to his predecessor. He's pretty far from the cool, calculated presence that Kinglsey was, and he goes through many different identity crises, such as selling his soul to a demon or being transformed into a cyborg. In the end, Macendale is murdered by Kingsley, when the latter returns to New York and reclaims the mantle.
However, the Jason Macendale incarnation of Hobgoblin did get some heavy media play, as he was featured as a major villain in the 1990s Spider-Man cartoon.
Now here's where things start getting a little... strange.
So when Macendale sells his soul to a demon, he ends up getting bonded to a demon ala Ghost Rider, which — as Johnny Blaze could've advised him — is not the happiest arrangement for anyone to deal with. Anyway, Macendale forcibly ejects the demon from his body, and it takes form as the "Demogoblin," a fiery monster who believes itself to be on a holy war against Earth's "sinners." The Demogoblin's definition of sinner is pretty extreme, though, and it includes pretty much everyone except children.
Demogoblin causes a lot of problems for everyone, particularly during the Maximum Carnage event. Demogoblin finally dies in a battle against Macendale, when Demogoblin saves a child from collapsing debris and gets crushed.
One of the more recent Goblins that Spider-Man has had to deal with is Menace, originally Lily Hollister, who used to date Harry Osborn until one day she found one of his old Goblin hideouts (as you can tell, these things are all over the city), and upon touching the Goblin formula, was transformed into the creature you see above.
At this time, Lily's father, Bill Hollister, is running a campaign for mayor of New York. Hoping to score her dad some points on the campaign trail, Menace begins carrying out targeted attacks on Bill's rallies in order to earn him sympathy, but these already violent attacks take a rather dark turn when she kidnaps and then kills a councilwoman. Ever since then, Lily has never been quite the same.
No, your eyes do not deceive you. This character is, in fact, a combination of Marvel's Green Goblin and the classic Batman villain, Two-Face. This guy is naturally known as the "Two-Faced Goblin," and he's the result of a '90s crossover named Amalgam Comics, where characters from Marvel were merged with characters from DC, resulting in characters like Dark Claw (a combination of Batman and Wolverine), Amazon (a combination of Wonder Woman and Storm), and of course, Spider-Boy (Spidey and Superboy).
This Goblin is actually Harvey Osborn (get it?) a wealthy aristocrat in New Gotham City who is disfigured, in classic Two-Face style, and blames Logan Wayne (get it?) — who is the secret identity of Dark Claw — for the accident. Donning the Goblin identity, Osborn attempts to take vengeance on Logan Wayne by any means necessary.
In Marvel's Ultimate Universe, which retold the original Spider-Man stories for the new millennium, writer Brian Michael Bendis elected to combine two Goblins into one by making Harry Osborn the Hobgoblin. This twist didn't come from nowhere, since this storyline happened back during the era of the Raimi movies; at the time, message boards were swimming with suspicion that Harry might become the Hobgoblin in the movies as well, in order to simplify the admittedly quite complicated Goblin saga.
For the record, these Ultimate Goblins are quite a bit different from their Marvel Universe counterpart, with no gliders or pumpkin bombs in sight. Ultimate Hobgoblin is a musclebound, fiery monster capable of flight. This Harry's Goblin persona is also the result of years of hypnotic therapy creating a repressed second personality inside Harry's mind, named "Shaw," who emerges as the Hobgoblin after Harry takes the OZ formula.
The animated series Spider-Man Unlimited stands today as one of the most bizarre adaptations of Peter Parker yet, with a storyline that shot Spidey into space and placed him into the high-tech parallel world known as Counter-Earth, dominated by beast/man hybrids and ruled with an iron fist by the High Evolutionary.
This series showed several weird parallel versions of classic Spider-Man characters, but one of the strangest of all was Hector Jones, Counter-Earth's version of the Green Goblin. Hector's Goblin is actually a hero, rather than a villain, and he seemingly has no connection to the Osborn family at all, having supposedly invented all of his own gear. The series shows that Hector's hidden identity as the Goblin is partially a way to help the anti-Beastial resistance force (yeah, yeah, we know...) without compromising the safety of his wife and son.
Not surprisingly, this character has never appeared in the comics.
Remember Ben Urich, the hardboiled reporter that featured in the first season of Daredevil? Well, it turns out he has a nephew named Phil, and poor Phil has a long, tragic history with the Goblin legacy.
Basically, Phil was a regular young man until one day he stumbled upon one of those old Goblin hideouts. (See? They're everywhere.) But anyway, unlike everyone else who has worn the mask, Phil decides he's going to use the costume and gear to help the world, so he becomes a superhero version of the Green Goblin.
Unfortunately, Urich's life takes a turn for the worse, and he ends up joining the ranks of the villains, becoming the new Hobgoblin. This identity is short-lived, as Urich soon becomes the Goblin Knight, and finally rises to the top as the self-proclaimed Goblin King. As the Goblin King, an identity pictured above, Urich has developed a furious, antagonistic relationship with the original Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley.
Not all Goblins have to be people. This Green Goblin was actually just a "genetic construct" created by Norman Osborn, for the sheer purpose of clearing his name and diverting all suspicion as to his Goblin identity. Basically, Norman sent out this Goblin at times where he was in the same area, and made the Goblin do things like kidnap Norman's grandson Normie. When little Normie sees this Goblin, he gets all excited, thinking that it's his dear old dad, Harry, back from the dead.
Yeah, Norman's a pretty cold guy.
Spider-Man didn't know any of this at the time, of course, and suspicion was rampant about who the "new" Green Goblin would be. For comic fans, the fact that the big unmasking scene ended in a Goblin that has, um, "no face," wasn't the most exciting conclusion to the mystery. But from Norman's perspective, at least, it makes sense.
No, we aren't cheating. This Green Goblin is not "Norman" Osborn. It's Normie Osborn, the son of Harry, a kid who really, really shouldn't have been named after his evil grandpa. That was a terrible idea.
In the future known as the MC2 Universe, where Peter and MJ's daughter May "Mayday" Parker becomes Spider-Girl, little Normie ends up going on a dark path. After the death of his mother, Liz Allan Osborn, Normie ends up donning the Goblin legacy, forcing Spider-Girl into action. As the Goblin, Normie is more like his unstable, emotional, erratic father than he is like his cold, calculated (but also unhinged) grandfather. He ends up reforming, and becoming one of Spider-Girl's closest allies, at least for a while.
The Grey Goblin is Gabriel Stacy, the previously unknown son of Norman Osborn and, um... Gwen Stacy. Yeah, seriously. There's a reason that his origin story, Sins Past, is considered one of the worst Spider-Man stories of all time. For the most part, fans try to just pretend that the whole thing never happened.
But in any case, Gabriel Stacy — who has a twin sister named Sarah — apparently ages rapidly due to the Goblin serum coursing through his blood, and grows up believing that Peter is his true father... and that Peter is the one responsible for Gwen's death. When Peter tests the DNA and proves otherwise, Gabriel totally flips out and claims the Goblin mantle as his birthright, becoming the Grey Goblin.
The writer of this story, J. Michael Straczynski — who was actually a really solid Spider-Man writer, for the record — has said on multiple occasions since then that this was not the story he wanted to tell, and that he wants the whole story retconned out of existence.
Oh no, Peter! Say it ain't so!
Well, at least it's an alternate reality. Though the Norman we know has certainly tried to turn Peter into his heir before, he's never succeeded. But in this parallel universe, Peter Parker responded to the death of Gwen Stacy by murdering Norman Osborn — something the Peter we know was certainly blamed for, but stopped himself from doing. Anyway, this version of Peter subsequently stopped being Spider-Man, feeling that because Spidey had failed, the identity had to die with Gwen.
Then, he goes totally off the wall, dons all of his archenemy's old gear, and becomes "the Goblin." As the new Goblin, Peter mainly sticks to the sewers beneath New York.
Any Goblins we missed? Let us know in the comments!