Spider-Man Writers Reveal Green Goblin Wasn't Their First Option to Be MCU Main Villain

By Richard Nebens Updated:
Spider-Man, Green Goblin

Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures delivered the movie event of a generation in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which somehow turned out to be even bigger than initially expected. With villains like the Green Goblin and Doc Ock joining the fray alongside Tom Holland's Spider-Man and countless other big players, this threequel found a way to exceed the hype surrounding it for a long time.

That hype largely started with the news that Jamie Foxx from 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would return to play Electro in the MCU, followed shortly by the same news for Alfred Molina's Otto Octavius. After Sandman, the Green Goblin, and the Lizard joined them for a Fearsome Five villain team, questions began forming about who would be the threequel's true "big bad" of the group.

Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin took that role with force in his comeback from 2002's Spider-Man, causing mayhem, chaos, and pain at nearly every turn for Peter Parker and his loved ones. As it turns out, this wasn't always the case according to the team that wrote No Way Home's script.

No Way Home's Unexpected Main Villain

Spider-Man: No Way Home, Villains

In an interview with the Gold Derby YouTube channel, Spider-Man: No Way Home screenwriter Chris McKenna shared how Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin unexpectedly became the movie's main villain.

When asked what the key to his character was, McKenna admitted that the Goblin "was not the main villain" in the early versions of No Way Home's script. Evidently, the writing team "lost other characters" in the process, leading them to turn back to Norman Osborn as the one to put in that main position.

"This movie went through a rapid change. He was not the main villain of this movie for the whole first version of the script. He was not the main villain. He was a villain, and then we lost other characters and then we kept on going ‘Well, it has to be him. He’s the one who now is the antagonist of the movie. We have to make him the antagonist.’ And so, we were evolving the script as we were writing it and shooting it and it was, ‘Oh, Goblin Norman has to be the villain. How do we do that?’"

Working Goblin into being the film's main villain, the idea was to give the character "a second chance" at life that he still managed to screw up. On top of that, screwing up that second chance only made him turn even darker than he was in his first movie, and it also tied more into Peter Parker's story as well:

"And so, he became the centerpiece of the movie that he was at first not the centerpiece. So, I mean, I’m telling you how versatile. It’s like, it was not like Goblin was there, but he was, and then it became clear to all of us, ‘Oh wait, no, this has to be, he has to be the… the other side of may, he has to be the main villain of this. He has to have been given a second chance and he’s still doing what he was doing in the first movie, but in a darker way that then, well, that now relates to Peter Parker,' if that makes sense."

Willem Dafoe's Green Goblin Taking Center Stage

In a film that featured five powerful villains, one from each previous live-action Spidey outing, it was the first one that led the way on the antagonist's side of the battle. While it's a mystery which other characters were in line to take that spot, Willem Dafoe took on that responsibility and brought a highly-celebrated performance after nearly 15 years away from the role.

Although No Way Home made the dichotomy between Osborn and Goblin much more clear, Dafoe brought an intense energy to both sides of his enigmatic character. Given the same second chance for redemption as his four Multiversal counterparts, the Goblin saw an opportunity to rule a new universe and would stop at nothing until he accomplished that goal.

From setting off the explosion that killed the MCU's Aunt May to stabbing Tobey Maguire's Peter Parker in the final battle, the Goblin showed he wasn't to be trifled with for a moment. 

Showing off a strength more potent than nearly any MCU character, combined with his vicious nature, Dafoe's villain left no doubts regarding the impact he made on the story. The original big bad from 2002's Spider-Man lived up to all of his evil potential, bringing some of the most intense battles in any Spider-Man movie ever made.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is now playing in theaters worldwide.

- In This Article: Spider-Man: No Way Home
Release Date
December 17, 2021
- About The Author: Richard Nebens
Richard Nebens joined The Direct in March 2020, now serving as the site's Senior Writer and also working as an assistant editor and content creator. He started his journalism career as a hobby in 2019 and is passionate about sharing news and stories from the entertainment industry, especially comic book movies, comedy, and sci-fi. Richard looks to expand his knowledge about movies and TV every day, and he is eager to stay locked into the latest releases and breaking news at every opportunity.