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No Way Home – 5 Ways Doc Ock Is The Movie’s Best Villain (& 5 It’s The Green Goblin)

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Warning: This article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

A common criticism of comic book movies is that they’re overstuffed with underdeveloped villains. Jon Watts daringly challenged this assertion by assembling a veritable Sinister Six of familiar bad guys for Spider-Man: No Way Home, comprised of Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus, Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin, Jamie Foxx’s Electro, Thomas Haden Church’s Sandman, Rhys Ifans’ Lizard, and (momentarily) Tom Hardy’s Venom.

RELATED: Spider-Man: No Way Home – Ranking Every Returning Character From Other Franchises

Against all odds, No Way Home made it work. Despite fears that too many villains would spoil the broth, Watts balances the threequel’s ensemble of antagonists nicely. Some are sidelined to allow the others to shine. Arguably the two that shine the brightest are Doc Ock and the Goblin (although Foxx’s comedic timing makes Electro a very close third).

2 Doc Ock

He Gets A True Redemption


Spider-Man No Way Home Doc Ock Iron Man Upgrade

Doc Ock is somewhat redeemed for his crimes at the end of Spider-Man 2, as he snaps out of the tentacles’ control and makes the ultimate sacrifice to destroy the doomsday machine he created. Otto isn’t forgiven for all the bad things he did, but he doesn’t die as a villain.

In No Way Home, the character is truly redeemed as Peter “cures” him to the point of turning him into a hero, using his mechanical limbs for good. In the finale, he rescues the multiversal Spider-Men and helps them inject Electro with his own cure.

Alfred Molina Nails The Balance Of Nuance And Classical Villainy


Spider Man No Way Home 4K IMAX trailer Doc Ock

Along with Heath Ledger’s Oscar-winning turn as the Joker in The Dark Knight and Michael B. Jordan’s turn as Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus from Spider-Man 2 is widely considered to be one of the best supervillain performances of all time.

Molina’s performance works so well because he deftly blends the classical villainy of a robot-limbed mad scientist with the dramatic nuance of a good person doing bad things.

Doc Ock Kicks Off The Movie’s Action


Doc Ock Captures Spider-Man in No Way Home

The first major action sequence in No Way Home kicks off with Doc Ock’s thrilling arrival. While Peter is trying to convince an MIT admissions officer in a car on a bridge to give MJ and Ned a second chance at attending the prestigious school, his Spidey-Sense starts tingling.

RELATED: The 10 Best Action Sequences From The MCU Phase Four (So Far)

Peter is suddenly attacked by robotic tentacles attached to a violent lunatic who claims to know him. This sequence on the bridge, first teased in No Way Home’s trailers, kick off the film’s action in unforgettable style.

He Has A Heartwarming Reunion With Tobey Maguire’s Spidey


tobey-maguire-spider-man-2

When Doc Ock first attacks Holland’s Spider-Man on the bridge, he’s surprised to find that he doesn’t recognize the Peter Parker under the mask. Later in the movie, after he’s been cured of his villainous ways, he’s reunited with the Spider-Man he recognizes, played by Tobey Maguire.

This reunion is one of the movie’s most heartwarming moments, as Otto seems genuinely proud of the man Peter grew up to be. He asks, “How are you, dear boy?” and Maguire’s Spidey smiles and replies, “Just trying to do better.”

Molina Is Well-Suited To Delivering Marvel’s Signature Quips


While Molina’s performance is consistent across both movies, No Way Home is an entry in the MCU, which has a tone and style of its own. Along with Foxx, Molina is well-suited to Marvel’s signature quippy one-liners.

He brings the same dry comic sensibility to the MCU that he honed in the films of Paul Thomas Anderson and Jim Jarmusch. Molina’s delivery of a Raimi meme (“The power of the sun… in the palm of my hand”) feels much less forced than Dafoe’s (“I’m something of a scientist myself”).

1 Green Goblin

He’s The Big Bad Of The Movie


Green Goblin attacking Spider-Man in No Way Home.

Out of the five villains that torment the Spider-Men in No Way Home, the Goblin is the biggest threat to them all. Doc Ock is redeemed early on, while the Sandman and the Lizard are confined to background roles. Electro takes the lead at the beginning of the final battle, but the Goblin takes over as soon as he arrives: “Can the Spider-Man come out to play?”

Spidey and his multiversal cohorts manage to take care of the other four villains pretty quickly, but defeating the Goblin takes the combined efforts of all three Peter Parkers inside a giant Captain America shield.

Willem Dafoe Perfects The Jekyll-And-Hyde Dynamic


Willem Dafoe as Green Goblin in Spider-Man No Way Home

Much like Doc Ock, the Green Goblin’s internal struggle between the good man he really is and the malicious villain taking over his personality can be compared to gothic literary icons Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

While Molina continues to nail Otto’s complicated relationship with the mechanical limbs controlling his mind, Dafoe’s portrayal of a Jekyll-and-Hyde dichotomy is Oscar-caliber. He’s genuinely frightened as Norman trapped in an alternate universe and truly sinister as the Goblin taking a beating with a big grin on his face.

The Goblin Befriends (And Then Betrays) Aunt May


Aunt May being questioned by police in Spider-Man No Way Home.

The most shocking character death in No Way Home is Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May, the mother figure who raised Peter and inspires him to do the right thing. When a lost, terrified Norman Osborn arrives at F.E.A.S.T., May takes him in and promises to help him.

RELATED: Spider-Man: No Way Home – 10 Best References To Previous Spidey Movies

This burgeoning friendship takes a heartbreaking turn when the Goblin invades Norman’s psyche and kills May with his glider. Despite this betrayal, May remains certain in her dying moments that Norman deserves a second chance. She imparts Uncle Ben’s iconic wisdom: “With great power, there must also come great responsibility.”

Dafoe’s Norman Osborn Is Scarier Without The Mask


Green Goblin's broken mask from Spider-Man: No Way Home

One of the most controversial aspects of the Green Goblin in the original Raimi movies was his goofy, Power Rangers-style mask. Mercifully, that mask is shattered within the first few minutes of the Goblin’s arrival in No Way Home.

Dafoe’s Goblin is undoubtedly much scarier without the mask. The mask restricted Dafoe’s performance, but No Way Home shows Norman’s creepy, psychotic facial expressions in all their glory.

He Brings Out The Worst In Holland’s Spidey


Spider-Man No Way Home Tom Holland Peter Parker

After the Goblin derails the Spider-Men’s plans and almost kills MJ, Holland’s Peter Parker is driven into a vengeful, murderous rage. He picks up the glider and prepares to kill him with it, but Maguire’s Spidey stops him from making the worst mistake of his life in the nick of time.

What makes the Goblin the ultimate villain in this movie is that his reign of unbridled terror brings out the worst side of a hero who’s usually a straight arrow.

NEXT: Spider-Man: No Way Home – 3 Ways It Honors Each Version Of Peter Parker


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