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How SPIDER-MAN’s Amazing Villains Can Help Shape the MCU

Spider-Man has one of the most unforgettable rogues galleries in all of comics. Throughout his almost 60-year tenure as Marvel‘s most famous street level superhero, Spidey has inspired some of the most iconic villains in comic book history. The Spider-Man: Far From Home trailer recently introduced one of Peter Parker’s most famous foes, Mysterio, who was battling some fearsome elemental monsters who seem to based on three other well known Spider-villains–Hydro-Man, Sandman and Molten Man. This got us thinking about the webslinger’s history of eclectic enemies and how they could be the key to shaping the future of the MCU.

There’s something about the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man which inspired the creators who invented and worked on him (predominantly Steve Ditko, and also Stan Lee, John Romita Sr., John Romita Jr., Gerry Conway, Ron Frenz, and Todd McFarlane) to craft a series of ever more inventive foes to face down against Marvel’s most famous hero. Many of the brilliant villains came from the unique mind of Ditko, whose interest in (and later commitment to) the concept of Objectivism inspired many original takes on the ideas of good and bad.

Now that we’re almost 20 years deep into big screen Spider-Man movies, we’ve gotten the chance to see some great (and not so great) renditions of villains like Green Goblin, Doc Ock, Venom, Sandman, Rhino, Electro, and the Lizard. But if you can believe it, Spider-Man has even more to offer when it comes to notorious characters, with both the Punisher and Wilson Fisk first appearing in the Amazing Spider-Man series, and the aforementioned new rogues in Far From Home. With the Sony and Marvel Studios deal, we’ve already seen the Vulture, the Shocker, and a hint of Scorpion… so who’s left in the Spidey-canon and what can they bring to the MCU?

There are five core characters that we have yet to see fully brought to life on the big screen: Scorpion, the Chameleon, Black Cat, Kraven the Hunter, and Hobgoblin. And each of them offers up an exciting street level entry point which could recenter the Marvel Cinematic Universe after the cosmic catastrophe of Thanos. We already got a glimpse of Mac Gargan A.K.A. Scorpion during Spider-Man: Homecoming and that could be another great way of grounding the MCU as the first MCU Spidey film very much leaned into the idea of the Vulture as an everyman blue collar crim. As he was our introduction to Gargan, that means Scorpion could be another low level but nevertheless dangerous threat to Peter and his world.

The European Vacation setup of Far From Home seems like the perfect way to introduce the jewel thief Black Cat or at least tease her, especially after the cancellation of her team-up movie with Silver Sable. It also seems like the movie’s Ned Leeds–Peter’s best bud–might be related to his comic book character by more than name, and in the comic books that sweet, sweet boy ended up marrying Betty Brant and later becoming the Hobgoblin. It even seems like we might’ve even seen a version of the Chameleon in the teaser with a theory suggesting that Nick Fury is none other than the shapeshifter himself.

Kraven the Hunter has one of the most iconic and outrageous costume designs and concepts of any supervillain. With his lionhead shirt and skill of hunting down any prey, he could be a great addition to the ever-growing on-screen world of Marvel. This could be especially interesting as the company moves away from the highly militarized reimaginings and leans into the more fantastical. Kraven also offers up Loki-esque comedy relief / anti-hero potential as in the comics the character has been both villain and coat-turning hero, most prominently in his adventures with Squirrel Girl.

The MCU has spent over a decade building up to the idea of an omnipotent foe so powerful that he can erase half of the world with the snap of his fingers. Since that Earth-shattering event, many fans have been left asking… what’s next? How do you top a villain like Thanos? Well, the potential that the vast Spider-Man rogues gallery opens up is that maybe you don’t have to. The MCU has (apart from a couple of notable, snappy examples) struggled to establish impactful villains, and taking a leaf out of Spider-Man’s book could help them rectify that. Interesting, complex, and empathetic villains that fill the screen and only care about their own goals and machinations rather than a sprawling intergalactic plot could be the refreshing take that the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs.

Images: Marvel, Disney

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