Spider-Man has one of the best, if not the literal best, collection of villains in comics. And that’s just individual bad guys. Spidey villains also do this thing where they form teams. And now of those teams are bigger or better than the Sinister Six.
A good Sinister Six lineup, however, requires precision. You cannot just randomly select six villains from the Webhead’s Menagerie of Malfeasance, pat yourself on the back, and head home. No, no, no. Such casualness simply will not do. To assemble a great Six, one must take time. One must do more than think, “these six guys are cool.”
You might be nodding along at this point. You SHOULD be nodding along at this point. There is no denying the wisdom of these words. But, you begin to realize, knowing there is more to a strong Sinister than just random choosing is not enough. You need to know what to do and not to do.
Don’t worry. We’ve got you.
The Sinister Six Rules
To do things right, we need structure. Yes, even for a collection of costume wearing criminals, we need to provide a framework to make the dream work.
My can’t miss rules for the Sinister Six are as follows
- The villain must be established.
- The villain must be able to work in a team without being overpowering or being lost behind their teammates.
- It is easy to see how each villain might be completely cooperative with the other members AND ready to stab them all in the back at a moment’s notice.
- Each one needs to be capable of beating Spider-Man on their own.
- They all need to be the kind of villains who would engage in wild and outlandish criminal endeavors, not just murder sprees.
- There must be six.
Sinister Six Rule #1
Simply put, at this point, the Sinister Six are not the kind of team where you get to be brand new and join up. I love Paper Doll, Massacre, and the like, but they are still too new.
In a strange way, this is both my most important rule and the one that I see the biggest need to modify. The fact is, with it in place, we can field a great Six. However, it also stultifies the ability of the team to evolve and better reflect current times. My ideal Sinister Six is very white and very male and that’s just not great.
Thus, this is the one rule I need to figure out a way to be more nuanced and flexible about.
Sinister Six Rule #2
When it comes to the likes of Venom or Carnage, I love this rule. Neither of those characters could ever play well with others. If you have Carnage in your book, there may be other villains, but they are all playing second fiddle to him. Similarly, if you have Venom in your book, both fans and the creators are going to want to so desperately throw him into the action, front and center, he has no ability to play the ensemble.
It stings a bit, on the other hand, when it comes to some of b and c-level faves. For instance, I LOVE Shocker. Shocker, however, is a Squadron Sinister man, at best. He does not belong within spitting distance of the Sinister Six. See also: Spot, Slyde, Boomerang, Speed Demon, any of the Beetles, and so on.
This rule also nudges out what is a favorite for many, Kraven the Hunter. I think Kraven is awesome. I know a lot of people think he is a natural Six member, but I have never seen it. Kraven’s whole disposition, his philosophy, his bearing, all scream solo villain to me. I know he was on the first Six ever, but no Kraven in a post-LAST HUNT world makes sense on that team of villains.
Sinister Six Rule #3
This rule again disqualifies Shocker. He may run on you, but he’ll never just outright betray. It also pushes out Kraven who’s unique brand of morality tends to rein in his desire to backstab.
Really any of your not too smart villains get dinged for this one. Sandman, another fan favorite for the Six, feels a strange choice because he makes a great follower but hardly a big planner. Rhino is another Wallcrawler wastrel who seems ill-equipped for the always have a plan to betray side of Sinister Six life.
Others are such bad teammates you’d never expect them to be onboard. These are your Morluns or your Carnages. They’re basically guaranteed to betray you, most likely early and often.
Sinister Six Rule #4
If you have not given Spidey a run for his money on your own consistently, you cannot make the Sinister Six. The League of Losers are awesome, but not for this.
The Six is a place for your really top tier threats who can still work with others. This is why you can absolutely see Doctor Octopus in the team’s ranks but Morlun would not make a lick of sense. Or, to go in the good teammate but never a solo threat direction, Ringer is certainly a villain you can count on if you’re another villain, but he is never going to make the Webhead sweat.
Sinister Six Rule #5
Doctor Octopus demanding fealty from the world or he’ll addict everyone to cocaine? Yes! That’s some good Sinister Six-ing. Carnage holding all of New York City hostage as his “family” murders indiscriminately. No! Bad bad bad.
This isn’t to say Sinister Six members cannot be murderers. I think nearly every one of them is. It is just that they have both the theatricality and personality to attempt the wild plan on the regular, even if their hands have known bloodshed.
Sinister Six Rule #6
I mostly added this one to be cute, to get it to six, you understand. That said, the Sinister Six has, on occasion, not had six members. And that’s just dumb.
The Ideal Team
With all of that in mind, I give you now, the perfect Sinister Six.
At the helm, without a doubt, has to be Doctor Octopus. There is no one else should ever be considered the leader/organizer of this team of scoundrels.
Electro, Vulture, and Mysterio were all on the original incarnation of the team and I see no reason to change that now even as their other two teammates — Kraven and Sandman — fail to make the cut.
While a relative Six late-comer, I love Lizard re-joining the team. This would be especially good if the Lizard in question is the Curt Connors in control, guilt-riddled but hiding it version. That means he is smart but still a very dangerous physical threat and his betrayal could be one about him looking out for himself or for the greater good.
For the final slot, I think an interesting wild card/dark horse is Scorpion. He’s a long-time villain but never part of a true Sinister Six. He is familiar but would bring a new dynamic to the team.
Sinister Six: The MCU Edition
Since AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2, there have been rumors of the Sinister Six hitting the big screen, either in their own film or as the Wallcrawler’s antagonists. With FAR FROM HOME slowly fading in the rearview, those rumors, desires, and suggestions have risen once again.
The thing about a film Sinister Six, however, is that the rules cannot be the same. The MCU has only chronicled a handful of Spidey villains so the vast selection simply is not there. Still, there are some ways to provide structure.
The Returning Players
First, you are going to need all the villains you have already seen. That means Vulture (Michael Keaton), for sure. While it is true that our last glimpse of the convicted Toomes seemed to suggest a certain empathy for Parker, that does not mean the high-flying fiend had forgiven the Webslinger. Or, even if he did, we know he’d put the wings back on in a second if he had to attack Spidey to save his family.
This also means Shocker (Bokeem Woodbine). No, he cannot make the big boy roster in the comics but scarcity creates opportunity. Thus, the greatest super villain ever named Herman gets his day to shine.
Third, we have Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal). Yes, I know we saw him die in FAR FROM HOME. But we also saw a giant being of molten rock attack a Ferris Wheel and that was not real. If he can pull that off, why couldn’t he fake his own death? Answer: he could definitely fake his own death.
The Not Yets
Spidey’s corner of the MCU boasts two characters just waiting to don costumes. First amongst them is Aaron Davis (Donald Glover) aka The Prowler. We saw in HOMECOMING that he already is living that criminal life. He did not, however, want anything to do with the wild weapons the Vulture’s associates offered him. So maybe he’d never cross that line.
Of course, we also know he has a nephew (perhaps the MCU’s Miles Morales) he cares a lot about. The tech upgrade to the classic Prowler suit and a threat against his nephew might be enough to convince him to join the Six.
The clearer choice is Mac Gargan (Michael Mando) aka The Scorpion. He already wants to take revenge on Spider-Man, he has a Scorpion tattoo, and FAR FROM HOME introduced us to the man who helped fund the creation of Scorpion. Seems like a slam dunk.
The Tinkerer (Michael Chernus) could definitely help out the Six but there’s no way I see him as being one of the team. He would occupy a similar role to the one he had in Vulture’s gang. There to fix and build, but not one to go on criminal activities.
While Morris Bench, the Hydro-Man, gets a specific mention in FAR FROM HOME, it is a red herring. I think it is unlikely that the films will go ahead and reveal that he was, in fact, real. That said, I’d be onboard with it if they did. It’d be fun to see him show up seeking inclusion.
The New Ones
There is a need for at least one more villain, both in terms of team numbers and in terms of giving viewers a new baddie to get to know and love. The most obvious choice is a Smythe who starts off helping Gargan become the Scorpion and then decide to augment themselves as the Spider-Killer along the way.
There are a host of other possibilities. For one, there are the familiar from other Spider-Man series but not used yet classics like Doctor Octopus, the Lizard, and Electro. Doc Ock was pretty incredible, but the on-screen version of Electro and Lizard both have room for improvement.
We already know current director Jon Watts loves Kraven the Hunter so that seems like a solid bet as well even if as with, say, Shocker, I would choose him for the comics version.
The Shadowy Figure
Not a requirement but given how spread out these villains are and the possible need for…persuasion, a shadowy organizer seems a good bet for the final member. It could not be someone like Scorpion’s backer (yes, I’m being vague for spoiler reasons…I’m just that kind) because this person needs to be both the power in the shadows and, by the end of the film, another costumed antagonist.
Some offbeat choices come to mind like Kingpin or the Jackal. They both could prove interesting. However, the most likely figure, one that some thought might be involved in the end of FAR FROM HOME, is Norman Osborn. More so than any other villain in Spider-Man’s history, he embodies the kind of guy who can be a behind the scene manipulator in one moment and a cackling flying Halloween decoration the next. Additionally, given that the Osborns have been part of both previous Spider-Man film series, even non-comic book fans will likely recognize who he is and what’s he about with little screentime devoted to origins and the like.
Given what we know and the villains we have already met, I can guess at what might be in store. My hypothesized MCU Sinister Six — based mostly on data and a little on personal preference — would be organized by Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin. He would clash with the Vulture who had been manipulated to join up via threats to his family. The Shocker would follow the Vulture onto the team, in part out of loyalty and in part because Scorpion’s — member number four — promises of revenge sound pretty good. An actually living Mysterio would be a late arrival, timed for maximum effect like the dramateur he is. Last, I imagine it will be Kraven but I wish they’d try Lizard or Electro again.
Kraven is great but even in this film version of the Sinister Six, I struggle to imagine him as a team player. Plus, those characters are so great and got treated so badly in those previous films. Succumbing to reality though, he gets the nod.
Thus, the full MCU Sinister Six is Green Goblin, The Vulture, Shocker, Scorpion, Mysterio, and Kraven the Hunter.
Is Our Sinister Six Your Sinister Six?
With an almost infinite number of possible combinations, I’m guessing probably not. And that’s great! Reach out to us in the comments section below or @ComicsVerse on Twitter and let us know what you think. Did we miss someone obvious for our MCU Six? Is our logic flawed for our Marvel Comics selections? Speak your truth!