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The Most Powerful Villains In The Spectacular Spider-Man Cartoon Ranked

This content was paid for by Sony and created by Looper.

"The Spectacular Spider-Man" is one of the great animated superhero shows of the modern era... and it proudly boasts one of the medium's most deadly and dangerous collection of super-powered bad guys.

While hardly a note-for-note re-telling of the comics, "The Spectacular Spider-Man" features several members of Peter Parker's extensive rogue's gallery in adaptations of some of their best stories. Going back and watching Spidey contend with the likes of the Green Goblin, the Vulture, and Doctor Octopus, we found ourselves wondering: Which of the show's antagonists are the most formidable? Which give Spider-Man the most problems? Which are almost impossible to defeat?

The result of our in-depth analysis lies before you — though if you've never seen the series and are thinking about checking it out, you may want to avoid the upcoming spoilers. These are the most powerful villains in "The Spectacular Spider-Man!"

8. Rhino

In a world of mad science, underworld intrigue, and meticulously themed weaponry, sometimes you just need a little brute force. That's certainly what Rhino brings to the table. When professional thug and perpetual Spidey punching bag Alex O'Hirn volunteers to undergo superhuman transformation to be of better service to his shadowy employers, he ends up wrapped in a titanium suit he can't take off. On the plus side, he's ridiculously strong and completely impervious to harm, which is a winning combination in the "powerful" department. It's hard to beat "can't be hurt" as a supervillain quality.

On the downside, of course, there's the fact that, since nothing can get past the suit bonded to Rhino's body, some standard bodily functions — like perspiration — can't function properly. Once Spider-Man realizes this, it's a pretty simple matter to lead Rhino on a tiring chase through some steam tunnels, eventually getting Rhino so exhausted that he deliriously reveals the name of his boss to the wallcrawler (who Rhino believes in that moment to be his mother). Without any brains to match the brawn, Rhino can't truly be considered in the highest echelon of Spidey villains ... but we wouldn't tell him so to his face.

7. The Vulture

The Vulture is one of Spider-Man's oldest comic book villains, dating back to "Amazing Spider-Man" #2 in 1963. In the "Spectacular Spider-Man," he's keeps a somewhat lower profile — appearing in the very first episode, he nonetheless shares villain-of-the-week status with the Enforcers and thereafter only returns when it's time for someone to form the Sinister Six. And even in that first episode, he's not really after the webhead himself — Adrian Toomes is seeking revenge on his fellow scientist, Norman Osborn, for stealing his work in the field of high-tech flight.

But regardless of his initial motives, Toomes is no joke, flying around in a slick suit with razor-sharp wings and talons on his feet. His ability to meet Spider-Man in combat in the air — and use his wings to sever Spidey's webs — makes him a more formidable opponent than most, and his keen scientific mind means that he can always give himself an upgrade. Among the show's antagonists, he's not the most difficult to take down, and he doesn't get enough screen time to present the same kind of threat that some of the others do, but the Vulture remains a highly intimidating figure.

6. The Shocker

Jackson Brice, leader of the Enforcers, went through more of an adaptation process than most other bad guys for "The Spectacular Spider-Man." Originally going by his comic book alias, Montana, he later ends up putting on a red-and-yellow suit that's familiar to all Spider-Man fans, becoming the Shocker. This is certainly not something that happens in the comics — though interestingly,  a version of Brice is (briefly) the first version of the Shocker in the 2017 film "Spider-Man: Homecoming," revealing the show's long-lasting influence.

Shocker is a mercenary who attacks Spider-Man for no better reason than it being his job, so he doesn't have the killer instinct of the webslinger's worst enemies. He does, however, represent a step up in power level, as his shockwave-emission gauntlets are capable of blasting Spidey around like an extremely durable rag doll. Spider-Man is ultimately forced to bring a condemned theater crashing down on top of Shocker, which should probably go at the top of Brice's resume. "A superhero had to drop a building on me to beat me" looks pretty good on paper — except for the being crushed by a building part.

5. Doctor Octopus

The first season of "The Spectacular Spider-Man" gives us a fantastic slow burn when it comes to Otto Octavius, who spends the first several episodes as a mild-mannered scientist reluctantly turning other people into supervillains on behalf of his employer, Norman Osborn. Eventually, though, it happened as we all knew it would — there's an accident in Otto's lab (well, less of an "accident" and more of an act of sabotage by the Green Goblin) which leaves him physically and mentally fused with the four high-tech tentacles he used as prostheses, complete with the classic image of the neural link melting into the top of his spine. As a result, not only can the newly-christened Doctor Octopus control all four arms with his thoughts, he's also gone dangerously mad.

The combination of genius and insanity isn't an uncommon one in Spider-Man villains, but Doc Ock's intellect is what really puts him at another level in "The Spectacular Spider-Man." In his debut episode, Octavius easily figures out Spidey's plan to defeat him, likewise realizes the wallcrawler's unwillingness to risk harm to innocents, and expertly uses the latter to counter the former. He's also the one who first reasons that teaming up to fight Spider-Man is more effective than trying to beat him one-on-one, leading to the formation of the Sinister Six. The robot tentacles are a problem, but it's Doc Ock's mind that makes him a truly powerful threat.

4. The Green Goblin

The Joker to Spider-Man's Batman, the Green Goblin has long been considered among the most fiendish of the wallcrawler's rogue's gallery, serving up death with a giggle and a grin. Interestingly, "The Spectacular Spider-Man" inverts the Goblin identity's progression through the Osborn family — in the standard telling, Norman Osborn is the original Green Goblin, with his son Harry, Peter Parker's best friend, taking up the mantle after his father's death. In "The Spectacular Spider-Man," though, Harry becomes the first Green Goblin after ingesting an experimental "performance enhancer" that warps his mind. It's only in the show's second season that the truth of Norman's villany is revealed and the Green Goblin manifests in the person it was always meant to be.

Of course, it isn't just his personal connections to Peter and his willingness to sit back and manipulate events behind the scenes that makes the Green Goblin dangerous. More directly relevant to his power level is his instability, his total disregard for the lives of others, his iconic glider, and his pumpkin bombs, which detonate with the sound of screams. If you don't think the flying psychopath with the murder grenades is powerful, you haven't been paying attention.

3. The Sandman

Like his partner, Alex O'Hirn, Flint Marko is a thug for hire in "The Spectacular Spider-Man," given superpowers by Otto Octavius after one too many defeats at Spider-Man's hands. Unlike O'Hirn, though, Marko is transformed into one of Spidey's most powerful opponents: the Sandman, whose entire body is now essentially constructed of shifting sands. Not only can he shape his body into weapons (he prefers hammers — once a blunt instrument, always a blunt instrument) he can also escape Spider-Man's webs with ease, and trying to beat him with physical force is an exercise in futility.

In fact, if there hadn't been a handy cement mixer nearby, Spidey probably wouldn't have made it past the show's fifth episode. Sandman's malleability is his strength, and the only way to defeat him is to take that away — in this case, by encasing him in cement. He isn't the brightest bulb in the box, but Sandman's power level is immense when compared to other Spider-Man villains, most of whom could only dream of being able to mold themselves into whatever form they desire.

2. The Lizard

There's nothing complicated about the Lizard, no hidden powers or secret genius. There's just savagery, animalistic rage, the desire to hurt and the ability to hurt badly. In the entirety of "The Spectacular Spider-Man," Spidey never suffers a beating like he does the first time he encounters the Lizard, who breaks the webslinger's hand, mercilessly smashes his body, and almost fatally drowns him over the course of a single episode. Going back, it's actually kind of uncomfortable to watch. There's no clever dialogue with the Lizard, no pauses to explain his master plan, no self-inflicted pitfalls of stupidity or hubris. He just attacks, and if not for the timely intervention of a crocodile, Spider-Man would be spectacularly dead as a result.

Believe it or not, though, that's only one half of the Lizard's power. The other half lies in his human identity — Curt Connors, Peter's friend and boss, who injects himself with lizard DNA in a briefly successful effort to regrow his missing arm. The fact that the Lizard is Connors gives him a different kind of power over Peter, who doesn't want to hurt his friend or see Connors' wife and child suffer. A near-unstoppable force of nature that you can barely survive even when you're not pulling your punches? That's powerful.

1. Venom

There's only one contender for the title of "Spider-Man's worst enemy," and at the end of the first season, "The Spectacular Spider-Man" brings him out to play. Venom is a symbiotic marriage of hatred and betrayal, a shattered friendship wrapped in rejection, whose backstory has actually been improved on from its comic book origins. When astronaut John Jameson accidentally brings a strange alien symbiote back to Earth, it bonds with Peter Parker, providing him with a new black costume and gradually altering his personality. Peter doesn't initially realize this, but when he finds out, he discards the symbiote, freeing his mind of its influence.

All that is straight out of the comics. What's different here is Peter's relationship with Eddie Brock, who in "The Spectacular Spider-Man" is a close friend. Their friendship has been strained by Peter's covert activities as Spider-Man, however, and Eddie has always harbored secret feelings of jealousy. When the symbiote gives Peter a bad attitude out of costume, Eddie finally snaps. And when the symbiote is rejected by its original host, it finds Eddie instead, their union forming Venom, who is unquestionably Spider-Man's most powerful opponent. He has the same powers as Spider-Man, he doesn't trigger Spidey's early-warning spider-sense, and most dangerously, he knows who Spider-Man is — and he uses that information to attack Peter's loved ones. As he does in the comics, Peter beats him by tricking the alien into thinking Peter wants it back, thus separating the pair, but of course, Venom returns. Venom always returns.