Everything We Know About The MCU’s Spider-Man Villains

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Michael Keaton -- a Spidey villain?

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR was, as we put in our review, Marvel’s biggest blockbuster yet. But even with the bulk of the MCU’s character arsenal all on one screen again, Tom Holland stole the show as the new Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Holland had a great deal of fun with limited screen time, and the result is that rather than feeling fatigued with a third iteration of this character, fans are excited to see more.

And that brings us to SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, which is due out next year. We already know that this will be a different sort of Spider-Man movie, and one that will incorporate the Avengers (and primarily Tony Stark) rather than focusing on the same old origin tropes. But as with any superhero feature, a lot of people’s questions revolve around which of the countless potential comic villains Spider-Man will take on. It now seems that we have our answers along with a host of new questions about where this version of the character will go after HOMECOMING.


Speculation for which comic villain would provide the main opposition to Holland’s Spider-Man was wild for a few months earlier this year. But that speculation ended when it was confirmed in a report by UPI that Michael Keaton, who’d already joined the cast, would be playing the Vulture in HOMECOMING. The Vulture, frankly, is a little bit of an odd pick. He’s a popular villain, to be sure, but he’s essentially an old, cranky jerk with a wing suit and a personal vendetta against Spider-Man. It actually might be pretty effective. The Vulture is a lot less “super” than other villains, which means there could be natural upward trajectory in the challenges the character faces (whereas other MCU films have arguably struggled with how to one-up bad guys who seem invincible).


Another thing we learned not long after the character’s debut in CIVIL WAR was that there would be multiple villains in SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, even if Keaton’s Vulture appears to be the “main” one. The second villain was quietly revealed to be The Tinkerer, a mad scientist with a nasty streak who’s going to be played by Michael Chernus (best known as Cal Chapman from ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK). But as CNET recently noted, we also found out who the third and presumably final villain is to be. It’ll be The Shocker (to be played by FARGO’s Bokeem Woodbine), an engineer and technician who makes for good thuggish sidekick material. One interesting thing to note about these two is that they’ve both had comic ties to The Punisher, who was recently introduced to the MCU in season two of DAREDEVIL.


It probably goes without saying that the likes of Electro and Sandman won’t be returning after somewhat-embarrassing interpretations in earlier Spider-Man movies. But could it be that we’re done with the Green Goblin as well? Arguably Spider-Man’s chief opponent, the Goblin has appeared in multiple films and been played by three actors, if you count James Franco’s Harry Osborn in addition to Willem Dafoe’s Norman Osborn and Dane DeHaan’s Harry. The Goblin has also specifically adorned a Spider-Man video game hosted within Gala Bingo’s casino section. “Spider-Man: Attack Of The Green Goblin” takes a different approach than most superhero slot machines, focusing as much on this villain as the hero himself. And yet, there’s no indication the Goblin is in the MCU’s plans. For that matter, Doctor Octopus, who was memorably depicted by Alfred Molina in SPIDER-MAN 2, may also be done for.


Superhero cinema is built for speculation, so naturally the conversation will soon turn to what other villains could populate future Spider-Man films, if indeed there are to be character-specific follow-ups within the MCU. Back in June, Moviepilot’s list of suggestions for HOMECOMING villains actually started with Vulture, but went on to include four others who weren’t chosen: Black Cat, Mysterio, Chameleon, and Kraven the Hunter. Others have suggested that Kingpin could emerge, because he’s battled with Spider-Man before in comics and remains alive in the MCU after being defeated in DAREDEVIL’s season one. Right now we have no idea if any of these characters will be involved, but perhaps the 2017 film will offer some clues as to what’s ahead.

Jake Miller is a film and pop culture enthusiast and part-time movie critic. When he's not combing through comic books or re-watching movies, he's working on the entertainment website he wants to launch.