Every superhero has their own unique rogue gallery of supervillains. However, I doubt you could find a superhero with a rogue gallery so vast and so awesome as Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man. One of his arch-nemeses, Green Goblin, has been dubbed as Spidey’s equal many times, which is why he is such an iconic villain. But, in terms of raw physical strength, is Green Goblin stronger than Spider-Man? Let’s find out.
Who is Green Goblin in Marvel Comics?
If you’ve seen Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire’s ‘Spider-Man,’ the MCU’s ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home,’ or read any of the dozens of comics with Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, you’ll know that Norman Osborn is one of Peter Parker’s most iconic villains.
Norman was a brilliant but unethical scientist who founded Oscorp. He conducted experiments trying to create a new, unique version of a serum that enhances one’s physical abilities, later known as the Goblin Serum.
An accident happened after Norman took the Serum, albeit it did do its initial purpose. The Serum increased Norman’s physical strength, speed, durability, and stamina to superhuman levels, but it also fractured his mind to the point of no return. He quickly became the supervillain Green Goblin and set his sights on Spider-Man, vowing to destroy the web-crawler and his life.
Not only was Green Goblin physically dominant, but he was still an amazing scientist, prolific in numerous scientific fields. He used that knowledge to create high-tech gadgets and weapons, including his signature armor, the Goblin Glider, Pumpkin Bombs with various effects and purposes, and much more.
The duo battled many times since the Goblin’s first appearance in ‘Amazing Spider-Man #14’ in 1964, and the rivalry extended into live-action movies. It started with 2002’s ‘Spider-Man,’ where Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe portrayed Spider-Man and Green Goblin, respectively, and then Dafoe returned as Osborn in MCU’s ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home.’
Naturally, Peter Parker never intends to kill anyone with his power, so he holds back most of the time he fights against enemies. Especially considering he soon figured out the Green Goblin was Norman – his best friend’s father. However, the Goblin never held back, which was incredibly dangerous for Spidey, who lost fights against him numerous times.
The question is, how strong did the Serum actually make Green Goblin?
How strong is Green Goblin?
After watching the ‘Spider-Man’ movie in 2002, many fans who weren’t acquainted with the Green Goblin through comics thought he didn’t actually have a huge level of superhuman strength and that he relied heavily on technology. In reality, that’s false – the Goblin Serum enhanced Osborn’s physical characteristics dramatically.
Green Goblin can lift extremely heavy objects and apply force powerful enough to bend metal with relative ease. He can easily lift and toss a bus and has matched Spider-Man in hand-to-hand combat more than once.
According to the official ‘All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A to Z: Update Vol. 1 #1,’ the Goblin is a 4 out of 7 on their power grid level for strength, just like Spider-Man. However, that signifies a range between approximately 800 lbs (360 kg) and 25 tons, which is where the discrepancy between the two emerges. We’ll get to that, though.
What we know for sure, according to the handbook, is that the Goblin can lift an estimated 9 tons. With the help of his advanced technology – as well as rage and adrenaline boosting his strength even more – that level can climb up several additional tons.
But is that enough for him to become stronger than Spider-Man? As much as the writers opt to write stories where Spidey and Green Goblin are up to par in strength, the truth is Spidey has the edge in that regard.
Is Green Goblin stronger than Spider-Man?
The very same official Marvel handbook I’ve mentioned earlier explicitly states this when it comes to the strength comparisons between Spider-Man and Green Goblin:
“Norman possesses superhuman strength, thanks to his Goblin Formula. However, even enraged, the Goblin’s strength is marginally less than that of Spider-Man. (…) In addition to enhanced strength, the Goblin Formula has also granted Norman increased speed, reflexes, and endurance to levels which make him a near-equal to Spider-Man.”
So, it’s evident that the two are close but not quite the same in terms of their strength levels. However, there are a couple of reasons why their fights always seem to be very close, with the possibility of them going either way almost every time they fight.
For one, Green Goblin makes up for the difference in physical strength by using his intelligence, technology, and gadgetry to a much more prolific level than Spidey. Many people don’t realize that Peter Parker is a genius in his own right, but he tends to rely on his powers and physical attributes instead of gadgets – well, apart from his web-shooters.
But, the main reason why the fights are ever up to par is Peter Parker’s constant fear of killing the enemy he is fighting. Spider-Man almost always pulls his punches when fighting – especially when fighting somebody he knows, thinks is redeemable, and definitely doesn’t want to kill.
That’s why Peter holds back against Green Goblin as well – and in the end, in both the 2002 movie and the comics, he beats the Goblin by dodging his Goblin Glider that impales Norman himself instead of Pete.
When Spider-Man doesn’t hold back and uses his full strength, he can actually go toe-to-toe with some of the strongest guys in Marvel. He once lifted a huge chunk of a torn-down skyscraper weighing approximately 40-45 tons.
The Goblin might be close to Spidey in their overall powers, considering his brutal mental state, but also technology and intelligence. However, if we’re talking about raw physical strength alone, Spider-Man has the edge over Green Goblin.
Was Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin stronger than Spider-Man?
In Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ film, we’ve seen the Green Goblin beat up Peter Parker to a pulp, almost knocking him out cold before eventually putting him to bed with his sleeping gas. But was he really stronger than Spidey, or was there something else going on?
Well, we can’t say for sure that the two weren’t up to par physically because circumstances played a big role in each of their encounters, but it’s probably safe to say that this version of the Goblin wasn’t actually stronger than Spider-Man, just like their comic book counterparts.
Norman Osborn had better technology, preparedness, and manipulative strategies to lure Spider-Man into traps. For example, he acted as if he was a damsel in distress in a burning building before attacking Spider-Man, who was trying to save him. Or when he forced Spider-Man to choose between a wagon full of kids or Mary Jane.
Additionally, Peter held back because he knew – or doubted, at least – that Norman Osborn was the Green Goblin. Harry, Norman’s son, was Pete’s best friend, and he never wanted to do anything to hurt Harry or his family or jeopardize their friendship in any way.
In the end, the Green Goblin kills himself before Harry takes on his father’s mantle.
As for the Green Goblin in ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home,’ he did outwit the Spideys and caused the most trouble out of all the villains from different universes that appeared in the film – but it was evident that Osborn was older and physically not as powerful as any of the Spider-Men.
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