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Doctor Octopus: 7 Actors Who Can Portray Spider-Man’s Greatest Nemesis

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Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man is undoubtedly one of the most popular superheroes of all time. Despite his amiable nature, Spider-Man has many similarities with Batman, with the obvious exception of the latter’s massive fortune. From strong moral codes against killing to a genius intellect, the web-slinger also boasts of a lethal rogue gallery, much like the Dark Knight. However, the one villain who has been considered to be Spider-Man’s greatest nemesis over many decades is Otto Octavius aka Doctor Octopus.

Doctor Octopus

Related: Spiderman 3 Theory: How will Doctor Octopus and Electro Return?

A genius scientist, Otto Octavius’s traumatic past pushed him to become one of the best scientific brains in the world. An accomplished physicist and inventor, Otto’s life took a dark turn when his mechanical limbs became attached to his body after a freak accident. However, the accident enabled him to control the limbs with his thoughts, and thus began his life of crime. Immortalized by Alfred Molina in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2, the character is now reported to return in Tom Holland’s untitled Spider-Man 3 movie. Though it is unclear if Alfred Molina will portray the character in future movies, the idea of a multi-verse might hint towards a more permanent solution of getting Spider-Man’s greatest nemesis in the MCU. Here are 7 actors who can play Doctor Octopus in the MCU’s original timeline.

Alfred Molina as Doctor Octopus

Related: Andrew Garfield, Kirsten Dunst and Others Confirmed for Spider-Man 3

7. Matthew McConaughey

Matthew McConaughey

The Academy Award-winning actor shot to fame with Dallas Buyers Club and HBO’s True Detective. Known for playing intense roles, Matthew McConaughey’s impeccable acting range makes him our top contender to play the mad scientist. The actor’s experience and global popularity can be a massive boost to the legacy of Spider-Man. Also, we don’t mind a supervillain with that charming Texan accent.

6. Ken Watanabe

Ken Watanabe Doctor Octopus

Related: 10 Times Doctor Octopus Proved He Was a Better Spider-Man than Peter Parker

Known for playing tragic characters, Ken Watanabe is one of the most popular Japanese actors of this era. Having won an Academy Award nomination for his role in The Last Samurai, Watanabe has also received widespread acclaim for his role in Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Having played the role of Dr. Ishiro Sherizawa in Godzilla (2014), Watanabe is not averse to playing the role of a mad scientist with a tragic past to become one of the best MCU villains to date.

5. Lance Reddick

lance reddick scaled

The first thing anyone will notice about Lance Reddick is his disarming calmness with an underlying hint of danger that lurks beneath the surface. Best known for playing Cedric Daniels in The Wire, the actor has also been a vital part of the massively popular John Wick series in which he plays the role of Charon. His wide range of acting can make him a valuable addition to the MCU, in case the franchise wishes to go for a slightly humorous route in lieu of Marvel’s past affiliations with relatable supervillains.

4. Michael Shannon

Michael Shannon AP

Related: Jared Leto Calls Morbius ‘Part Of Expanding Universe’

There is hardly any actor who can match Michael Shannon’s on-screen versatility. The two times Academy Award-nominated actor became an instant fan-favorite for his unforgettable performance as General Zod in Man of Steel. The downside of Michael Shannon’s imposing presence and impeccable acting range is that he might completely overshadow Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, if given the chance.

3. Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron Doctor Octopus

There’s absolutely no role in this world that Charlize Theron cannot play to perfection. From Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road to Andromache in The Old Guard, Charlize Theron is a force to reckon with when it comes to playing badass characters. Marvel Studios’ tryst with Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One proves one thing: a gender-bent character can be as good as the comic-book counterpart. Let’s not forget that we actually had a female Doctor Octopus in Sony’s critically acclaimed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse which was well received by the fans.

2. Javier Bardem


Best known for playing the role of Anton Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, Javier Bardem is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors of all time. His unforgettable performance as Raoul Silva in Skyfall proved that Bardem is the master of playing memorable antagonists on the big screen. A mad scientist with a morally complex character is just tailor-made for an actor like Javier Bardem who can bring the best out of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker while still managing to give another unforgettable performance as Hollywood’s leading villain.

1. Bryan Cranston

Bryan Cranston Doctor Octopus

A genius scientist who goes morally bankrupt due to a tragic event and becomes one of the most dangerous outlaws while still managing to look like an average high-school teacher. Where have we heard this before? The Breaking Bad star is arguably one of the best actors of Hollywood, having received praise from Anthony Hopkins himself. It’s only a matter of time before Bryan Cranston plays a comic-book character, so why not someone who is quite similar to Walter White in many ways?

Written by Akash Senapati

Akash is the Lead Content Strategist for FandomWire. Having started as a writer for FandomWire back in 2020, he now manages a global team of writers who share the same passion for motion arts, from Martin Scorsese to the latest MCU flick. He loves DC Comics, Anime, Pink Floyd, and sleeping in no particular order. His favorite graphic-medium writers are Grant Morrison, Chris Claremont, Christopher Priest, Garth Ennis, and Eiichiro Oda. Prep time > Aliens.