Our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man has saved countless lives. At times, however, he’s also been remarkably unfriendly, which has resulted in him taking lives and ruining countless others. Peter Parker started his superhero career at the tender age of 15, so there was always going to be growing pains. He’s made some mistakes along the way. The only problem is that some of those mistakes were pretty major, with many of them coming well after he was old enough to know better. Some of them make you wonder if he’s even a hero at all. If only his spider-sense could double as a moral compass. Okay, sure, that’s a bit misleading. He’s not a villain, but he’s done some heinous, villainous things; dare we say, evil things.
For this list, we’ve scoured the sixty-year history of the character for the web-headed menace’s worst actions, and before you ask, yes, we included Spider-Man 3. We had to. That movie was a crime against humanity and a human rights violation. Throw out your "Magneto was Right" shirts, go down to Hot Topic and buy yourself an overpriced "J. Jonah was Right" shirt, because these are the 15 Most Evil Things Spider-Man has Done.
15 He didn’t stop the robber
It had to be this event. This was the real beginning of the “ol’ Parker luck.” You know the gag: while working as a wrestler, Spider-Man didn’t stop the robber who ripped off the promoter he worked for—it wasn’t his problem. The karmic recompense was worthy of Vince Gilligan: the robber goes on to kill Uncle Ben.
Steve Ditko defined Spider-Man in that instant, using the tragedy to drive home the life lesson about power and responsibility and whatnot. But it doesn’t change the fact that at the moment the robber sailed passed and Parker did nothing—all he had to do was reach out a knee and trip the guy (to say nothing of his superhuman abilities)—he unwittingly condemned Uncle Ben to death. The ol’ Parker luck indeed. This is a real downer to start on. Maybe this’ll make you guys feel better.
14 Kissed dead girlfriend's daughter in front of his wife
Well, this one’s going to take some explaining. In the truly awful Sins Past story, Peter finds out that before her death, Gwen Stacy had twins (Gabriel and Sarah) with Norman Osborn. Osborn then played around with their genetics and sped up their aging process. Fast forward to the equally terrible Sins Remembered arc, that saw Spider-Man teaming with Sarah to save Gabriel from the French mafia. Peter feels uncomfortable around Sarah, who is almost identical to Gwen; Sarah, in turn, is attracted to Peter.
Let’s just note that Sarah is also technically only ten years old, Peter’s married, and up until recently, Sarah thought Peter was her father. But let’s not let good taste and sanity get in the way of a classic like this. Naturally, this ends with Sarah kissing Peter and Mary-Jane walking in to catch them. Of course, the whole thing gets wrapped up in a neat little package. Gabriel is still crazy, Sarah works for Interpol, and somehow, MJ doesn’t divorce Peter.
13 Makes a deal with Venom
Venom started out as a Spider-Man villain; a sociopathic, mass-murdering degenerate with a singular obsession with the wall-crawler. There’s only one way to deal with a villain like that: make a deal with him to leave town so he can be somebody else’s problem! Okay, probably not the strategy most superheroes would use—probably because it’s selfish and immoral—but, hey, points for that outside-the-box thinking!
In reality, Marvel was preparing to turn the increasingly popular Venom into an anti-hero with his own ongoing series, so they needed to end his enmity with Spider-Man peacefully, but it was at the cost of Peter Parker’s moral compass. Sure, Spidey immediately questioned the decision that he made—he even planted a tracer on Eddie Brock. However, the Venom symbiote detected and destroyed the thing, and Spider-Man never did anything to try to track the maniac down. Every person Venom has killed since—good or bad—is Parker’s responsibility.
12 Ben Reilly's evil
Spider-Man’s infamous clone, Ben Reilly, was recently resurrected. As a former Spider-Man himself and as Peter Parker’s duplicate, we’re counting this as something evil Spider-Man’s done because it’s the same person, just in a different circumstance.
After having been tortured by the Jackal, Ben Reilly got the drop on him, torturing his torturer psychologically and physically. He began creating clones of Miles Warren to use as servants and using cloning technology to bring dead villains back to life. When confronted, he tempted the real Peter Parker with a clone of Gwen Stacy and the possibility of resurrecting Uncle Ben (ostensibly for his rice recipe). Along the way, he also attempted to kill and replace Peter Parker using his group of villain-clones as shock troops. Real class act, this Ben Reilly.
Of course, this whole story ends with a shrug; Ben Reilly decides he’s going to be a good guy again because the plot requires it, and we’re all left to wonder what the point of this whole thing was.
11 Assorted murders
Spider-Man may have a higher body count than the Punisher. For this entry, however, we’re just going to focus on a few standout kills. When the KGB wanted an operative named Charlie murdered for knowing too much, she turned to Wolverine to kill her quickly so that she wouldn’t be tortured to death by her former employers. Spider-Man tried to stop Wolvie, and the two got into a fight. Charlie snuck up behind Spider-Man, purposely triggering his spider sense. Working on instinct, he unwittingly punched Charlie so hard she died. Great impulse control, Pete.
And then there was this one time Peter ate a person. Spidey was going through another mutation, turning into a monster for the umpteenth time, transforming into a spider-creature. Morlun, a vampiric spider-hunter, went to murder and eat Peter and Mary Jane. Instead, Parker got the drop on Morlun and ate him alive. At least Morlun was going to kill them first. Manners these days.
10 Spider-Man: Fast Food Thief
This is it. The smoking gun. What J. Jonah Jameson has always wanted. Spider-Man committing a crime (outside of the murders or that time he ignored a kidnapping). Well, several crimes. While hotdogging around in his Spider-Mobile (a clear trademark violation—Batman should sue), he began driving erratically and he refused to pull over for the police. Continuing to speed through a fog in which he could have killed someone, he crashes his car into the river.
But the truly unforgivable act comes a few days later. While slinging around the city trying to figure out a way to get his Spider-Mobile back (Batman was at the same time trying to get his intellectual property back), Parker realizes he’s hungry. Rather than changing back into his civilian clothes, Spider-Man steals a McDonald’s bag from a patron who just left the restaurant. There are fewer things more American than McDonald’s, and Spider-Man robbed a man from enjoying the meal he worked hard to pay for. Disgraceful.
9 Might've killed Gwen
Yeah, here’s an uncomfortable one. We’ll never really know how Gwen Stacy died and neither will Peter Parker, who has to live with the uncertainty that he may have killed the love of his life. The story goes that the Green Goblin kidnapped Gwen and held her atop the Brooklyn Bridge. During his fight with Spider-Man, Gobby knocked Gwen off the bridge with his glider and Spider-Man used his webbing to catch her. Unfortunately, the jerk-stop of the web at the speed she was going snapped her neck.
Now, did she die from the drugs Norman dosed her with, being struck with the glider, or from the fall? Peter gets to live the rest of his life wondering if the source of one of his greatest tragedies was himself. If he didn’t have Gwen in his life or if he thought through the danger of using his webbing, maybe she would still be alive. But, then, how many high school romances work out anyway?
8 Spider-Man-8351 turned into an evil assassin
To even think Spider-Man has a no-kill policy at this point is laughable, but in the 8351-universe, Peter specifically gave it up (he did a series of articles about it in Red Book). Here, he and Wolverine had become very close during one of their Russia missions together—the one with Charlie mentioned in entry 11. Something changed during this mission to set him apart from the version we saw in the the regular 616 universe.
Rather than opening up a bed and breakfast, Spider-Man and Wolverine decided to train in the Alaskan wilderness to hone their abilities as fighters with the intention of going rogue. In this universe, Peter abandoned his loved ones so he could insulate them from potential harm. His new mantra reflects this: “With great power comes great responsibility and greater enemies.” However, rather than becoming anti-heroes like the Punisher, they were both in more of a gray zone, if that’s even possible.
Spider-Man and Wolverine were now assassins specializing in black ops. Peter starts a relationship with Alex, the sister of Charlie, whom he killed. Alex also heavily resembles Gwen Stacy. Honestly, we can’t decide if this is evil or creepy, but we thought we’d share it with you anyway.
7 Zombie Spider-Man eats Aunt May and MJ
On Earth-2149, the Marvel universe was pretty normal until a plague started turning people into zombies. During a team-up with Ash from Evil Dead (that’s right, we’re going full crazy), it was revealed that the Necronomicon was behind Ash’s arrival and the spread of the plague. Peter, eventually realizing that the plague is a bad thing, ran home to get Aunt May and Mary Jane out of dodge. He finally gets to them, but that ol’ Parker luck kicked in, causing Spidey go to into convulsions and turn into a zombie. And so, he feasted on his wife and elderly aunt, which conjures up so many undesirable images. Considering that Spider-Man had fractured his jaw a short while prior to turning into a zombie, you can imagine the amount of hunger he had to eat up two people despite it.
Then, Peter zipped over to the Daily Bugle and ate J. Jonah Jameson for constantly calling him a menace all these years, finally proving Jameson correct.
6 A Superior Murderer
When Doc Ock took over Peter’s body and decided to be a “Superior Spider-Man,” he did so with aplomb. And by “aplomb,” we mean, “With bullets.” Not only was this surprising because Spidey's a good guy, but Otto himself had always felt that guns were beneath him. Well, life is full of surprises.
Spider-Ock disguised his fascism with heroism, which allowed him to get away with this shtick for much longer than anybody expected. Early on, however, Otto set a different course. He adapted a more tech-friendly suit and dealt with the villain Massacre by blowing his brains out of his head. Massacre had already been defeated, and Spider-Ock found the cyclical nature of superhero and supervillain to be inefficient. In front of a group of onlookers, Otto agonizes over the decision. He hesitates, especially when it becomes clear that Massacre was somewhat mentally ill.
And Otto shot him to death anyway. That’s more consideration than that poor man who lost his McDonald’s got.
5 Sold his marriage to the devil
Aunt May is so old she’s a member of the Whig Party. The point is, no matter what, she has led a long life. During Civil War, Aunt May took a bullet because one of Spider-Man’s enemies used Peter’s public reveal of his secret identity to harm the people he loves most. Peter and Mary-Jane make a deal with Mephisto: Aunt May lives, and Peter’s identity goes back to being a secret again in exchange for their marriage. And they accept the terms. They essentially give up their future so an old woman can live a few extra years. To top it off, Mephisto even shows them the child they would have had together. The stupidity of these characters is second only to Marvel’s editorial board.
Flash fact: In DC Comics, Neron once had Wally West and Linda Park give up their love in exchange for the attacks on Keystone City to stop. Neron quickly gave them their love back because the strength and purity of it was too much for his evil to handle. So, yes, Wally West and Linda Park have a stronger love than Peter and Mary-Jane.
4 Superior Skeeve
As morally gray as the killing of Massacre was, Doc Oc was up to some clearly shady stuff while pretending to be Peter Parker. Since Peter is young, handsome, in shape, and has actual living, breathing women in his life, Otto tried his luck at getting Mary Jane to sleep with him. Of course, Otto has the charm of a wasp, so it didn’t go well.
But then there’s Anna Marconi, whom Otto-Peter started dating. She had no idea what the real situation was, and while it’s unclear if they ever had sex, it’s obvious that things were at least going in that direction. Otto was in love with her, deciding to give Peter back his body to save her, but it was still an absolutely skeevy story that was immoral in the highest order.
3 Invades a sovereign country because he feels like it
Moral relativism isn’t a good color on a superhero. In Amazing Spider-Man #26-29 (2015), the web-head uses his company, Parker Industries, to commit corporate espionage and invade the sovereign nation of Symkaria (currently at war with Kekistan) where Norman Osborn is holed up. Silver Sable joins Spider-Man, who wants to free the country from Norman’s influence. Symkaria is her homeland, and she wants to protect it...and kill her political rivals, including its admittedly corrupt but legally elected leader.
Peter draws a false equivalency with Captain America fighting Nazis in WWII. The problem with that is that America isn’t at war with Symkaria, and by using Parker Industries’ to launch an attack, he’s either committing an act of terror or an act of war. It doesn’t help that SHIELD gets involved, which has been acting Orwellian to the Nth degree with lines like “We’re watching you. We’re watching everyone. Always.” They come to the rescue, and Parker happily refers to them as “the good guys.” However, at this point, there doesn't seem to be a difference between the actions of the good guys and the bad guys.
And why did Peter potentially start a war? Because after Clone Conspiracy, he felt a “needed a win.” Selfish, stupid, and petty: the modern Spider-Man, folks.
2 He Abused Mary-Jane
At the end of the Clone Saga (oh crap), Peter and Ben do a DNA test, and faster than you can say Maury, it turned out that Peter was the clone. Peter, bless him, didn’t handle the revelation well. He attacked Ben for stealing his life, and the two get into a superpowered fistfight. A pregnant Mary Jane tries to keep Peter from killing Ben—would that be murder or suicide?—and tries to pull Peter off, only for him to backhand her, taking a page out of Hank Pym’s playbook. Peter regrets it immediately, and MJ immediately forgives him because of all the stress he was under, though he does disappear for a while to drink his sorrows away, which is definitely a healthy way of coping.
Then there was the Spider-Man 3 incident where Peter was under the control of the evil alien symbiote which made him do horrible things like dressing like a jackass and singing poorly. Again, Peter got into a fight and MJ tried to break it up, only for Peter to backhand her while screaming like a baby.
1 Almost murdering his own franchise. Repeatedly.
Spider-Man 3 and Amazing Spider-Man 2 are a special kind of crap. Both are convoluted and hammy patchworks of unfunny humor, careless storytelling, and assassinating character arcs. Central to the problems of these movies is Peter Parker. Tobey Maguire’s whiny Parker was evil for a good portion of Spider-Man 3 because of the symbiote; he also was an absolute piece of crap to Harry and Mary-Jane. Peter even brought Gwen Stacy into the story to make this tedious love triangle into a tedious love quadrangle. And, lest we forget the emo haircut and the song and dance number he put on.
In Amazing Spider-Man 2, Andrew Garfield’s Parker was a spaz. His poor decision making has him break up and get back together with Gwen (just like in the last movie!), accidentally aid in the creation of the Green Goblin, and has an EDM fight against Electro. It should not be a surprise that this field of stupidity was seeded by Bob Orci and Alex Kurtzman.
Most importantly, the awfulness necessitated in the rebooting of Spider-Man’s live-action film franchise. Two reboots within a decade for one of the most celebrated comic book characters of all time. Lovely.
Did we miss out on any evil Spider-Man moments? Let us know in the comments.