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 Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 in 1964, and have repeatedly made poor Peter Parker’s life miserable. And they will almost surely show up in some form as villains in the MCU’s upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home, releasing December 17. As the movie draws closer, more and more hints about this famous team of Marvel villains are being dropped. But who are these fearsome Spider-Man foes?

The Sinister Six battle Spider-Man. Art by Alex Ross.

Marvel Comics

Who Are The Sinister Six?

Though they are called the Sinister “6,” in truth, there have been an incredible amount of members on this supervillain team. 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, there are still certain “linchpin” members. Ones who keep signing on over and over. Some of these are the aforementioned Sinister Six founding members, loyalists from the start, while others joined later on.

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 cartoon 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 fights Doc Ock, the leader of the Sinister Six, in Amazing Spider-Man #3.

Marvel Comics

Doc Ock’s Comics History 

If there’s an MVP of the Sinister Six, it’s definitely Dr. Otto Octavius. Doctor Octopus has been the Sinister Six’s leader most consistently, which isn’t surprising because he also formed the Sinister Six team. 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 and, unsurprisingly, Doc Ock isn’t still Spider-Man. Peter gained control of his body back. 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 defeats Spider-Man.

Marvel Comics

Doc Ock has four long, extremely durable metal appendages. They can telescope out and even 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 in the MCU

Doc Ock wears sun glasses and a long coat

Sony Pictures

Well, the answer to this one is simple: MCU Multiverse shenanigans. The Doctor Octopus we see in the No Way Home trailer is played by Alfred Molina. Molina is reprising his role as Doc Ock from Spider-Man 2. So while the mainline MCU Earth where Tom Holland’s Spidey resides might have a Dr. Otto Octavius of its own, the Otto we’re seeing is the one from the Sam Raimi Spider-Man movie universe.

But now we know, at least one version of the Sinister Six’s leader will appear in the MCU. Doc Ock’s actor Molina recently spoke about revisiting the villain so many years later, sharing it was an interesting experience, but thankfully not one that was too difficult.

The Vulture: A Founding Member of the Team

The Vulture (a founding member of the Sinister Six) vs. Spider-Man by Steve Ditko.

Marvel Comics

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 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 much 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.

How Vulture Could Appear in the MCU

Michale Keaton's MCU version of the Vulture.

Sony Pictures

Vulture has already appeared 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, Vulture’s actor Keaton was seen in the trailer for Morbius and fans suspect he is appearing as Vulture. A hint of sinister things to come perhaps?

Sandman: Sometimes a Hero… Sometimes Not…

Sandman, a member of the Sinister Six, fights Spider-Man in the pages of Marvel Comics.

Marvel Comics

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 crossing paths with Spider-Man often. In later years, he’d try to be a superhero, and even joined the Avengers. But inevitably, he’d become 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 takes punches and bullets. He can also become a living sandstorm. Extreme heat is an impediment to 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. A big help to the Sinister Six when he’s a part of their team.

How Sandman Could Appear in the MCU

Spider-Man punches through Sandman.

Sony Pictures

Sandman was played by Thomas Haden Church in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. It was a fairly comics-accurate version of the character too. We imagine that were he to show up in the MCU, he would be from that universe. In some scenes from the Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer, there was a suspicious amount of dust in the air. Could this dust really be our first glimpse of the MCU’s Sandman?

Electro: A Shocking Teammate

Electro's first cover apperance in Amazing Spider-Man #9.

Marvel Comics

Electro’s Comics History

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

Electro’s Powers and Abilities 

Spider-Man gets a shock from Electro, a member of the Sinister Six.

Marvel Comics

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.

How Electro Could Appear in the MCU

It’s already been announced that Jamie Foxx, who played Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, is crossing over into the MCU in No Way Home. Although Electro’s actor may appear differently than he did in his original film appearance, it is said Foxx will portray the same Electro that fought Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man. And just like with Doc Ock, multiversal fractures seem to be how he’ll show up to fight Tom Holland’s Spidey.

Mysterio: The Sinister Six Gave Him His Spotlight 

Mysterio 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

Classic Mysterio, a member of the Sinister Six, vs. Spider-Man art.

Marvel Comics 

Mysterio actually has no super abilities to speak of. But he is a master of special effects, stage illusions, and is also a proficient hypnotist and magician, and has 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

Peter Parker meets the MCU's Mysterio, a part of the Sinister Six, for the first time.

Sony Pictures

Just like Vulture, Mysterio has already appeared in the MCU. Mysterio 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 the Hunter, as portrayed in Marvel Comics.

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

Spider-Man vs. Kraven the Hunter.

Marvel Comics

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

How Kraven Could Appear in the MCU

Kraven is a bit of a conundrum. A live-action solo film in development, starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Kraven. But he has yet to appear in any Spider-Man movie, despite his A-list villain status. It seems unlikely he will appear in No Way Home, as Sony seems intent on allowing him to appear in his own film first. It’s also unclear just 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 

Spider-Man fights the Green Goblin, a late member of the Sinister Six.

Marvel Comics

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.

Marvel's Sinister Twelve.

Marvel Comics

Developing a deep hatred for Spidey after many defeats, he killed his girlfriend Gwen Stacy. As if that weren’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 Amazing Spider-Man #335.

The cover for the Amazing Spider-Man #337

Marvel Comics

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” is always his vast wealth and intelligence.

How Green Goblin Could Appear in the MCU

A glowing green round ball near cars on a road

Sony Pictures

Judging from the cackle we hear in the No Way Home trailer, as well as the Green Goblin pumpkin bomb we see, it seems that Willem Dafoe’s version of the Goblin will appear in the MCU. Like the previously mentioned Doc Ock and Electro, it is likely he is a fugitive from the Multiverse. Specifically, the Sam Raimi Spider-Man universe. Dafoe’s version of the Green Goblin is much loved and fans are excited to see him on-screen in the MCU.

Other Sinister Six Members

Naming all of the Sinister Six members is nearly impossible. Almost every villain that Spider-Man has battled has been a Sinister Six member at least once. At some point, almost all of them have been part of a Sinister Six, even if they were one-off participants. Notable members who joined briefly were Beetle, Chameleon, Shocker, Hammerhead, Scorpion, and even Venom and Carnage. The Lizard was only a member a couple of times. (But it looks like he’ll likely be in No Way Home).

Sometimes the name of the team was 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 MCU live-action Sinister Six cut when Spider-Man: No Way Home hits theaters this December. If we know anything about the MCU, it’s that we could always have curveballs thrown our way. But, hopefully, this will be the first of many Sinister Six movies that explore this nuanced team!

Originally published August 31, 2021.

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