The Spider-Man Comic Book Storyline That Would Make A Great Horror Movie

The "Spider-Man" franchise has been around for 20 years now dating back to director Sam Raimi's original 2002 film starring Tobey Maguire that helped cement the modern era of superhero movies as we know it. But we've had three different actors in the role in that time, with Andrew Garfield and now Tom Holland also suiting up as the webslinger. So, where should the movies go from here? 

In the aftermath of last year's record-breaking, crowd-pleasing "Spider-Man: No Way Home," the best course of action might be to go in a completely different direction. You can't really go bigger after uniting three generations of Spider-Men in the same movie. So, perhaps bringing in a new, terrifying villain to turn the next chapter into more of a horror movie is the way to go. And the perfect Marvel Comics storyline is sitting right there to do just that.

The saga of the Hobgoblin

There are few superheroes that have a rogues gallery of villains as good as Spider-Man's. Batman is perhaps the only other one on the same level in that department. That being the case, the first thing to take into account in going for horror the next time around is picking a villain we haven't seen on screen before. There is no need to recycle something we've already seen once (if not several) times in the past. With that in mind, the saga of the Hobgoblin may be just what the doctor ordered.

Created by the great Roger Stern and John Romita Jr., Hobgoblin made his debut in the pages of "The Amazing Spider-Man" #238. But right from the start, it was clear that Hobgoblin was a shade darker than the rest of Spider-Man's rogues. Even the cover artwork that accompanied the character's entry into Peter Parker's life, which showed the orange-suited goblin ripping Spidey's suit in half, was enough to point to the dark nature of the character. This wasn't like fighting Scorpion or Shocker. This was on a different level, and the stories that would follow centering on Hobgoblin would go on to become some of the most complex and grim in the hero's history.

While the nature of the Hobgoblin's true identity is something that was left dangling for years, the "main" Hobgoblin is a man by the name of Roderick Kingsley, who was a wealthy fashion designer — and an unethical one at that. An associate of his named George Hill discovers the original Green Goblin's lair, and that leads Roderick to Norman Osborn's journals. He opts to kill George as to keep these secrets for himself and decides that his life isn't interesting enough. What would be more interesting? Becoming a supervillain. So that's exactly what he does, altering the costume, swapping out green for orange and a more menacing look overall, to become the Hobgoblin.

Roderick is a smart man and ends up replicating Norman Osborn's original formula to give him enhanced strength, but manages to concoct a version of it that dodges all of the insanity that came along with it for the Green Goblin. This means he is just as strong — if not stronger — with his mental faculties intact.

The horrors of the past

The specific storylines that follow after the Hobgoblin's introduction are numerous and complex. The key thing is that Green Goblin was no longer in the picture and, aside from being one of Spider-Man's greatest foes, there was a lot of trauma associated with that part of his past. The death of Gwen Stacy. His best friend's father becoming a deadly supervillain. The eventual corruption of Harry Osborne. It was an absolute, unending nightmare for Peter Parker that had finally concluded in some way. Yet, the second Hobgoblin enters the picture, it's like staring into the horrors of the past with a new, terrifying face. Imagine being forced to confront the worst part of your personal history, and then imagine being the one with the power and responsibility to deal with that threat. There is a lot of mental horror to go along with the visual horror of Hobgoblin.

The other thing to consider, especially as it relates to Holland's Peter Parker in the MCU, is Ned Leeds. One major thread that carries through the Hobgoblin saga is the mystery surrounding his true identity. At one point, it is believed that Ned, one of Peter's best friends, is the man behind the mask. Imagine Holland's Peter seeing a new goblin and being reminded of the death of his beloved Aunt May, and then imagine him believing that it might be his best friend under that orange hood. Even more horror for our hero to confront.

One thing that the MCU does particularly well is using comics as loose inspiration for cinematic stories. "Captain America: Civil War" hardly resembles the original storyline from the comics, but the spirit of it is all there. To that end, the folks at Marvel Studios and Sony could use the Hobgoblin saga to loosely inspire a tale of terror for Peter Parker, incorporating some key beats from the comics. The main pieces that are on the chessboard could fit well with where we're at currently. Peter is on his own after Doctor Strange's spell at the end of "No Way Home." No more Stark tech. No more friends. Just a young man with powers he didn't ask for, suddenly faced with the horrors of his past without a soul to lean on.

Something new instead of something bigger

After two decades and eight live-action "Spider-Man" movies, the time for reinvention is upon us. We have had some truly great films during that time such as "Spider-Man 2," as well as some not-so-great interpretations of the source material like "The Amazing Spider-Man 2." A trap that blockbuster filmmaking often falls into is the notion that bigger is better. Luckily, "Spider-Man: No Way Home" solved that problem in some way by assuring that bigger can't really happen. Not only does it not get bigger than that, but Peter has also been stripped of everything that could lead to a big adventure. It's back to basics. So it's time for different, not a time for escalation.

Attempting to inject some horror into the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man's life could be an interesting way to shake things up. We've only seen flashes of this with Venom's inclusion in "Spider-Man 3," for example, but horror has yet to be truly injected into this franchise effectively. Hobgoblin and the storyline that comes along with him could very well be the way to marry some real-deal horror with superhero cinema.