***Warning: This article contains spoilers for Spider-Man: No Way Home***
Willem Dafoe‘s performance as Norman Osborne/Green Goblin is undoubtedly one of the most iconic portraits of a comic book character ever. People have been talking about Robert Downey Jr. as the one and only Iron Man, and it’s safe to say the same goes for Dafoe as the iconic one Spider Man villain. The actor embodied the role from head to toe. He made a campy personality believable. Sam Raimi’s Spider Man (2002) wouldn’t have broken the barriers that superhero movies faced back then without Dafoe as the foil for Tobey Maguire’s interpretation of the wall-crawling superhero.
That said, who would have ever thought that the man could surpass his performance from his very first appearance. Green Goblin was a great villain two decades ago, but it was Dafoe’s second chance at the character in Spider-Man: No Way Home that made him terrifying. That’s not to shoot the character from the first movie. In both cases, Green Goblin set the stage for the hero that would become Spider-Man, thanks to one actor. These are Willem Dafoe’s best moments as the Green Goblin.
8 Fight Peter – Spider-Man: No Way Home
Successfully against the other villains Tom HollandSpider-Man, Green Goblin and his variant foe compete for the first time in nearly 20 years, and boy was it brutal. Peter beat the Goblin with everything he had as they scrambled from floor to floor and room to room in a luxury apartment building. Green Goblin only smiled in Peter’s face with each hard blow, leaving the stunned hero to wonder what it would take to clear the Goblin. When the bad guy finally took control of the battle, he was utterly merciless, knocking Peter through floors, laughing at him and taunting his broken morality all the way through. The conclusion of the battle would forever shape the hero that Peter would become.
7 Norman’s Conversation with the Goblin – Spider-Man (2002)
After his first defeat to Spider-Man in the 2002 film, Osborn was recovering in his luxurious apartment when he heard an eerily familiar voice. Looking around the room, he found the source coming from his reflection in a nearby mirror. This is the first time the public has become fully aware of Norman’s split personality and the Goblin persona’s hold over him. Norman is terrified when the Goblin devises his plan to care for their new enemy. Dafoe described this scene as one of his favorites to shoot, as it perfectly showcased Norman’s waning sanity. Norman was able to present himself as outwardly normal in an instant, without anyone suspecting anything, before suddenly switching to the Goblin persona, a figure who had no qualms about killing anyone who opposed him. Playing Green Goblin allowed Dafoe to chew the scenery by offering something comical one minute and completely intimidating the next.
6 A Very Tense Thanksgiving – Spider-Man (2002)
At this point Norman loses his grip on reality. This thrilling scene comes almost immediately after another showdown between Green Goblin and Spider-Man in a burning building where the villain cuts his nemesis with a shuriken-like weapon before escaping. Norman is next seen heading to Thanksgiving dinner with his son, Mary Jane, Peter and Aunt May. When you see him going up in the elevator, it’s clear that he’s losing his grip on reality, and it’s almost indistinguishable which persona is in charge. When Peter finally arrives, the tension begins to subside. May slapped Norman’s hand as he tried to pick at dessert, and the facial expression he gave her suggested the Goblin was in control, something which almost confirmed when he saw the same cut on Peter’s arm he just had on Spider-Man. datum . The revelation caused Norman to rush out of the diner before he could do anything reckless, but it leaves you wondering what would have happened if he had stayed.
5 Green Goblin’s Attacks the Festival – Spider-Man (2002)
Here we see Green Goblin in action for the first time. It’s unclear whether or not he expected Spider-Man’s interference. Still, he quickly made himself a new enemy when he crashed the Unity Day Festival to kill the business associates Norman had started his own company. Here we also see how unhinged Norman had become when he bombed a balcony that also had his son and Mary Jane sitting without thinking about their safety. Luckily, Spider-Man rescues them, and the two rivals collide in their first battle through the air as innocent bystanders flee the chaos. It may not have been as fierce as their confrontation in the film’s climax, but the encounter left a bitter taste in the Goblin’s mouth, as the fight would lead to a major shift in his main agenda. He was no longer seeking revenge against traitorous board members – his ultimate goal became to end Spider-Man.
4 Green Goblin’s Proposal for Spider-Man – Spider-Man (2002)
After luring his web-slinging foe to the Daily Bugle, Green Goblin takes out Spider-Man and kidnaps him. Rather than simply kill his nemesis and free himself from further interference, the villain instead takes him to a rooftop for a chat. It’s not so much the partnership proposal that put this scene on this list, but it’s what the Goblin said before making his offer. Despite all that Peter has done for the people of New York, Green Goblin warns him that people will eventually despise him because all they want most is to see a hero fail. When you first watch this scene it may not seem that important, but its importance comes in two decades later Spider-Man: No Way Home. Peter Parker is framed for Mysterio’s actions and reveals his identity, but faces polarizing results fueled by J. Jonah Jameson’s version in his universe. While many still believe Spider-Man to be a hero, others see him as a criminal and proclaim that “Mysterio was right”. Norman’s words may not have been intended for Tom Holland’s Peter, but he was the one who ultimately proved the Goblin right.
3 Norman is on sabbatical – Spider-Man: No Way Home
The villains who fell into the MCU found that they were taken from their respective universes just before dying in the fight against Spider-Man. But instead of sending them back to their grim fates, Peter chooses to cure them of their respective ailments so that they have a chance at rehabilitation and, most importantly, survive. Intelligent scientist that he is, Norman initially helped Peter while the Goblin character was tucked away. However, everything changed when Peter’s spider sense was suddenly activated and led him to Web Goblin, who revealed that he had regained control of Norman’s body. The change in the inflection of Norman’s voice told you that the scientist was gone. The alarming change stopped everyone in their tracks when Goblin interrupted a chilling monologue for Peter, battling to balance his two lives and having to convince his aunt to help the villains. Peter’s selfish desire to wipe his hands off the matter was a key difference from Goblin’s Spider-Man, who would have risked his life to save an enemy rather than let them die. For Goblin, MCU Peter turned out to be weaker-minded than his Peter. His monologue also affected Electro and Sandman, turning against Peter when they initially accepted his help. This scene proved that Goblin was not only a ferocious villain, but also a cold-hearted manipulator who knows his enemy better than he knows himself.
2 The Downfall of Green Goblin – Spider-Man (2002)
After revealing his identity to Peter in the climax of their final battle, Green Goblin uses the distraction as a way to finally kill his nemesis. He activates his glider and prepares to stab Peter from behind, but the hero’s spider sense warns him of the danger and allows him to dodge. Still, his instinctive reaction prevents him from having Norman impaled instead. Norman takes control of his body for the last time and makes one last request to Peter not to tell his son Harry. Norman’s death would haunt Peter ever since, as he would always wonder if he could have saved him. Peter would have his chance to redeem the fateful moment… No way home when he stopped MCU Peter from killing his nemesis, only to get stabbed himself for his trouble. Norman’s death would also haunt Harry Osborn. After witnessing Spider-Man bring Norman’s lifeless body back home, Harry would spend the next two films plotting his revenge and would eventually take on the mantle of the Green Goblin to do so.
1 Make Spider Man
There’s a reason Green Goblin is Spider-Man’s nemesis. No one pushes him to the limit or makes him doubt himself anymore. In both the 2002 and 2021 films, Norman attacks Peter in the heart by going after his loved ones. In both cases, Peter struggled to balance his hero and personal life. Goblin saw this in both films and attacked it. “Peter, you struggle to get everything you want while the world tries to let you choose,” Green Goblin said just before killing May in No way home. On this last adventure, the Goblin had come the closest to breaking Spider-Man. Peter nearly broke his hero’s code by killing the villain, but was talked out of different universes by Peters and convinced to honor May’s desire to help others. In both the Raimi movie and No way home, the battle ends with both Peters eventually realizing that they cannot balance their lives as Spider-Man with their lives as ordinary citizens. They had to choose one or the other. Green Goblin going after everyone they cared about showed them the importance of remaining anonymous. For MCU Peter, the Goblin forced him to give up everyone he loved for their safety and devote himself to fighting crime, effectively making him the hero everyone knew and loved from the Marvel comic books.
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