Why Marvel Studios' Spider-Man Movies Avoided Doc Ock And Green Goblin

Tom Holland's first few outings as Peter Parker in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are notable for what they lack — namely, recognizable villains (to general audiences, at least) that have already been depicted in prior live action "Spider-Man" movies. Truly classic foes, such as Doc Ock and Green Goblin, were seemingly off the table. Instead, Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures opted for more obscure characters in Michael Keaton's Vulture and Jake Gyllenhaal's Mysterio, allowing the famous actors to bring all the gravitas needed for those roles to provide a believable threat to Holland's Spidey. By and large, that strategy seemed to work flawlessly throughout his "solo" adventures (if you can even call them that, given the many shared universe cameos included in both "Spider-Man: Homecoming" and "Spider-Man: Far From Home"), but the creative team followed a very different approach for "Spider-Man: No Way Home."

The return of Sam Raimi's versions of Otto Octavius and Norman Osborn in "No Way Home" whipped fans and casual viewers alike into a frenzy, as intended, but it also can't help but raise certain questions as well. For instance, why hasn't the MCU gone ahead and introduced their own unique take on these two famous, fan-favorite villains? Well, as with every other creative decision that Marvel Studios has made in the past, Kevin Feige has an answer for that.

"You Can't Get Better Than Alfred Molina as Doc Ock"

Although fans like nothing better than to endlessly debate over the quality of the previous "Spider-Man" movies, two villains — and their respective films, for that matter — stand out from all the rest in the eye of most audiences. That would be Willem Dafoe's portrayal of the Green Goblin in 2002's "Spider-Man" and Alfred Molina as Doc Ock in 2004's "Spider-Man 2." In that light, not many people would be eager to try and one-up those classic depictions in future "Spider-Man" stories, even almost two decades after the fact. 

We can count Marvel's Kevin Feige among those who shied away from that daunting task, preferring instead to find a way to bring those legendary actors back to reprise their famous comic book roles. In an interview posted by FilmIsNow (via Comic Book), Feige explained his reasoning in holding back from rebooting either Green Goblin or Doc Ock for Tom Holland's version of Spider-Man. This stemmed from the intentional choice to set the MCU Spidey apart from any previous iteration, which is why this take on the character is so much younger than Tobey Maguire's or Andrew Garfield's and why there is so much of an emphasis on shared universe connections. Feige goes on to say:

"It did not occur to us to do a new Goblin story, or to do an Oscorp story, or to do Doc Ock, or anyone that had been done before, which is why Vulture and Mysterio were really the key characters. Even as we were doing that — and I had been saying for years, even before anybody asked me what I thought — that you can't get better than Alfred Molina as Doc Ock."

Feige further comments that, "...if you were ever going to bring Doc Ock back, it would have to be Alfred Molina." As understandable as his reasoning is, I can't help but feel frustrated by how unnecessarily restrictive that mindset is. I'm as big a fan of Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" villains as anyone, but I also believe Kathryn Hahn's version of Doc Ock in "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" is nearly on par with Molina's. Imagine if that movie similarly decided to hold back, simply because it was too intimidated by or overly reverential towards prior successes.

In any case, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" is currently playing in theaters.