Who Are the Sinister Six? From SPIDER-MAN Comics to the MCU

The Sinister Six have long been a thorn in Spider-Man’s side in the pages of Marvel Comics. They first came together in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 in 1964, and have repeatedly made Peter Parker’s life miserable. Years later a team of villains came together to fight the three Spideys in Spider-Man: No Way Home—although it was just five baddies and not six, for unknown reasons. (The Sinister Several?) But rumors persist a proper Sinister Six is coming to the big screen. Possibly in the MCU, or more likely, Sony’s Spider-Man universe. But what is the Sinister Six comic book history? We break down this legendary consortium of bad guys.

Who Are The Sinister Six?

The Sinister Six as illustrated by Alex Ross.
Marvel Comics

Though they are called the Sinister “Six,” in truth, this supervillain team has had a varying number of members. The original members of the Sinister Six included Kraven the Hunter, Mysterio, Doctor Octopus, Vulture, Sandman, and Electro, but a revolving door of villains has come in and out of the ranks. Over the years, many a Spidey rogue has joined their ranks. However, certain linchpin members keep signing on over and over. Some of these are the aforementioned Sinister Six founding members, loyalists from the start, while others joined later.

But who are the Sinister Six, really? Here is a breakdown of each key member of the Sinister Six (or “Insidious Six,” for you ’90s Spider-Man: The Animated Series fans) to help you get to know them. Although there is some stiff competition, some might argue these are the best members of the Sinister Six, but that’s up to you to determine.

We’ll start with the man who put the team together, Doctor Otto Octavius.

Doctor Octopus (Also Known as Doc Ock and Dr. Otto Octavius): The Sinister Six’s Leader

Spider-Man vs. Doctor Octopus in the pages of Marvel Comics and in the MCU.
Marvel Comics/Marvel Studios

Doc Ock’s Comics History 

If there’s an MVP of the Sinister Six, it’s Dr. Otto Octavius. Doctor Octopus is the most consistent of the team’s leaders, which isn’t surprising because he also formed the Sinister Six. The mad eight-limbed scientist was also one of Spidey’s earliest villains in the Marvel comics, appearing in 1963’s The Amazing Spider-Man #3. In the comics, Otto Octavius was a genius, a widely respected nuclear physicist. Thanks to a lab accident, however, he became something more. Doctor Octopus got his arms when a set of mechanical ones he’d invented became fused to his body. His now-mutated brain could control them with a thought.

Becoming a super-criminal, he tangled with Spider-Man more than almost any other villain. For more than a year, Doc Ock even became Spider-Man himself. He took over Peter Parker’s mind and body, and he attempted life as the heroic “Superior Spider-Man.” But his superhero days were short-lived. Peter regained control of his body. Otto has since resumed his supervillain existence in a version of his old body… complete with his absolutely terrible haircut.

Doc Ock’s Powers and Abilities 

Doc Ock captures Spider-Man, illustration by Steve Ditko
Marvel Comics

Doc Ock has four long, extremely durable metal appendages. They can telescope and feel sensations. The pincers on his arms are capable of gripping with a force of 175 pounds per square inch. He can mentally control them, just as he would his organic limbs. During his time as the Superior Spider-Man, he also had access to all of Peter Parker’s powers too.

How Doc Ock Could Appear Again in the MCU

Thanks to Multiversal shenanigans and one spell from Doctor Strange, the Doc Ock from Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films appeared on Earth 616 (a.k.a. “the Sacred Timeline”) in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Could Alfred Molina appear in the MCU again? Nothing is ruling it out. The Multiverse Saga is far from over, and he could still appear in a future Sinister Six project.

The Vulture: A Founding Member of the Team

Spider-Man's villainous Vulture in the comics and in the MCU.
Marvel Comics/Marvel Studios

Vulture’s Comics History

Adrian Toomes was a genius electronics engineer who became one of Spider-Man’s most persistent enemies, Vulture. First showing up in The Amazing Spider-Man #2 in 1963, Toomes designed a winged suit that allows him to fly at incredible speeds. After business partners cheated him out of his livelihood, he turned to a life of crime. Vulture was an original member of the Sinister Six, helping to found the team, and has served on many iterations of the Sinister Six over the years.

Vulture’s Powers and Abilities

Toomes’ Vulture apparatus consists of an electromagnetic anti-graviton generator that he wears as a harness. It not only allows for him to fly stealthily and with superior maneuverability, but the side effects of wearing the harness include enhanced strength. It’s why the Vulture, usually portrayed as a wiry older man, can withstand physical fights with Spider-Man as he battles the hero for the Sinister Six and alone.

The Vulture in full regalia in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Sony Pictures

How Vulture Could Appear Again in the MCU

Michael Keaton famously played Adrian Toomes in Spider-Man: Homecoming. And although Spidey defeated him, he is still alive and in prison. It’s only a matter of time before we see him again. In fact, those who watched Morbius saw him briefly in a confusing cameo. He should have rounded out the Sinister Six in No Way Home, but for unknown reasons, he was absent. If the team forms properly in the MCU, he needs to be there.

Sandman: Sometimes a Hero… Sometimes Not…

Marvel Comics' Sandman and the Sam Raimi Spider-verse's Sandman, as seen in Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Marvel Comics/Sony Pictures

Sandman’s Comics History

William Baker from Queens, New York, was a two-bit criminal who began a life of petty crime after his school expelled him. Taking on the name Flint Marko, Baker was caught in a nuclear testing site, where an accident caused him to bond with sand on a molecular level. He embarked on a life of crime, joining up with the Sinister Six and regularly crossing paths with Spider-Man. In later years, he tried to be a superhero, and even joined the Avengers. But inevitably, he’d became a criminal once more.

Sandman’s Powers and Abilities 

Sandman can transform his body into different sand shapes, both hard and soft. As fans saw in Spider-Man 3, Sandman can transform his hand into a mace, for example, or soften his form to take punches and bullets. He can also become a living sandstorm. Extreme heat impedes him, as it can transform him into glass. But he can, with much concentration, control glass as well. Water is another vulnerability. But as long as the one grain of sand that contains his consciousness isn’t isolated, he’s virtually indestructible. That makes him a big help to the Sinister Six when he’s a part of their team.

How Sandman Could Appear Again in the MCU

Thomas Haden Church played Sandman in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. It was a fairly comics-accurate version of the character, too. He was one of the villains from Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy transported to Earth-616 in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Although he went back to his home dimension at the end, nothing is stopping him (or a version of him) from joining a future Sinister Six.

Electro: A Shocking Teammate

Electro in his first appearance in the Amazing Spider-Man.
Marvel Comics

Electro’s Comics History

Like many of Spider-Man’s antagonists, Electro started as a blue-collar guy who received superpowers during a freak accident. Maxwell Dillon, an electrician, was struck by lightning while working on power lines. Finding he could now control electricity, he started wearing a garish costume and became the criminal Electro. He first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #9 in 1964 and has come to blows with Spidey ever since. Electro was also a founding member of the Sinister Six.

Electro’s Powers and Abilities 

Electro can produce enormous amounts of electricity, up to one million volts. When he charges his body to the highest levels, he becomes stronger and faster than an ordinary human. In recent years, his abilities have evolved to the point where he can become electricity itself, traveling through power lines. Electro is almost indestructible in this form. But just like real electricity, Max Dillon is quite vulnerable to water.

Electro in the pages of Marvel Comics (art by Steve Ditko) and in the MCU (played by Jamie Foxx).
Marvel Comics/Sony Pictures

How Electro Could Appear Again in the MCU

Jamie Foxx, who played Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, crossed over into the MCU in No Way Home. Although Electro appeared differently than he did in his original film appearance, Foxx was the very same Electro who fought Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man. And just like with Doc Ock, he wound up in Earth-616 through Multiversal fractures. He could return to join the Sinister Six at some point.

Mysterio: The Sinister Six Gave Him His Spotlight 

Mysterio menaces Spider-Man in the pages of Marvel Comics.
Marvel Comics

Mysterio’s Comics History

First fighting Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man #13 in 1964, the man known as Mysterio was a former special effects master Quentin Beck. Seeing no glory in behind-the-scenes work, he craved the attention of being an actor. When that didn’t pay off for him, he used his talents of creating illusions to commit crimes. This caused him to have several run-ins with Spider-Man across the years and led him to help found the Sinister Six.

Mysterio’s Powers and Abilities

Mysterio actually has no super abilities to speak of. But he is, however, a master of special effects and stage illusions, while also being a proficient hypnotist and magician. He’s learned quite a bit about robotics as well. But when it comes to a Mysterio vs. Spider-Man showdown, none of these skills have ever allowed him to defeat the hero, not even with his Sinister Six allies. 

How the Sinister Six’s Mysterio Could Appear in the MCU

Mysterio meets Peter Parker in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Sony Pictures

Just like Vulture, Mysterio has already appeared in the MCU, as he was the main villain in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Although the MCU version, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, was actually a scientist who worked for and grew to resent Tony Stark. He had no Hollywood or movie connections at all. Seeing as he is already in the MCU, he is a prime candidate for the MCU’s Sinister Six. Assuming he’s not really dead, as Far From Home implied.

Kraven the Hunter: A Hunter Obsessed

Kraven hunts Spider-Man in the classic Amazing Spider-Man comics from the 1960s.
Marvel Comics

Kraven’s Comics History

The Sinister Six’s Sergei Kravinoff, better known as Kraven the Hunter, first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #15. (Those early issues produced a lot of iconic villains). A big-game hunter of world renown, he came to New York to prove himself as the world’s best by capturing Spider-Man. His failure humiliated him, and thus capturing and killing the wall-crawler became a lifelong obsession.

Kraven’s Powers and Abilities

Kraven only has powers due to taking an unnamed potion concocted of jungle herbs. By ingesting it, Kraven received superhuman abilities like strength, speed, and durability. His sight, hearing, and sense of smell were all enhanced, making him a natural hunter. The abilities also affect his aging process. Kraven is well over 70 years old but appears to be about 30.

How Kraven Could Appear in the MCU

Aaron Taylor Johnson as Spider-Man villain Kraven the Hunter.
Sony Pictures

Kraven is a bit of a conundrum. A live-action solo film is coming out soon, starring Aaron Taylor Johnson. But he has yet to appear in any Spider-Man movie, despite his A-list villain status. It’s unclear which universe Kraven will inhabit. If he becomes a Sinister Six member in the MCU, it will likely be in a later incarnation of the team.

The Green Goblin: The Sinister Six? Try The Sinister Twelve 

Green Goblin’s Comics History

The Green Goblin has long been considered Spider-Man’s greatest enemy. As the father of Peter Parker’s best friend Harry, wealthy industrialist Norman Osborn grew close to Spider-Man, learning all his secrets. After taking an experimental “Goblin formula,” he grew super strong, but also mad. Using equipment of his own design, like the now-famous Green Goblin pumpkin bombs and gliders, he embarked on a life of crime. There, he came into conflict with Spider-Man.

Spider-Man battles the Green Goblin in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man.
Marvel Comics

Developing a deep hatred for Spidey after many defeats, he killed his girlfriend Gwen Stacy. As if that wasn’t enough, he made many other attempts at ruining Peter’s life as well. Despite his status as Spidey’s biggest foe, Goblin didn’t join the Sinister Six proper. Instead, he doubled the team in size and became leader of the Sinister Twelve. This occurs in Marvel Knights Spider-Man #10. The Hobgoblin, a different villain who uses Green Goblin’s tech and overall appearance, joined the Sinister Six long before, in 1990’s The Amazing Spider-Man #335.

Green Goblin’s Powers

Due to the Goblin Formula, Norman Osborn possesses superhuman strength, increased speed, reflexes, endurance, intelligence, and a healing factor. All of these abilities came at the cost of his sanity, however. Aside from his powers, he also has tons of advanced weaponry of his own design. This includes his Goblin Glider and a series of pumpkin bombs and jack-o’-lantern grenades. But Norman Osborn’s biggest “power” has always been his vast wealth and intelligence.

How Green Goblin Could Appear Again in the MCU

Green Goblin attacks Tom Holland's Peter Parker in No Way Home.
Sony Pictures

Willem Dafoe’s version of the Goblin appeared as the prime antagonist in No Way Home. Although his version seems unlikely to go the villainous route again, as we’ve mentioned before, there’s a whole Multiverse out there with plenty of other Norman Osborns in it.

Other Sinister Six Members

The Lizard in Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Tom Hardy as Venom/Eddie Brock.
Sony Pictures

Naming all of the Sinister Six members is nearly impossible. Almost every villain Spider-Man has battled has been a Sinister Six member at least once—even if they were one-off participants. Notable members who joined the team briefly include Beetle, Chameleon, Shocker, Hammerhead, Scorpion, and even Venom and Carnage. The Lizard was only a member a couple of times, despite appearing in No Way Home.

Sometimes the name of the team expanded to Sinister Seven, then Sinister Twelve, then even Sinister Sixteen. Once, there was even a Sinister Sixty! We doubt we’ll get there anytime soon, though. Let’s just make it to six first.

We’ll see who makes the final live-action Sinister Six cut when they officially appear as a team. If we know anything about the MCU, it’s that we could always have curveballs thrown our way. But, hopefully, we will have some kind of project to explore this nuanced team.

Originally published August 31, 2021.

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