Is there a more important character at Marvel than Spider-Man? Personally, I don’t think there is. There’s a reason that he’s the most copied superhero in the company. Scarlet Spider, Blood Spider, Superior Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen, Steel Spider, Cosmic Spider-Man, Peni Parker, Spider Cyborg, Spider-Monkey, Old Man Spider, Solider-Girl. And the list goes on and on.
Spider-Man is A) the reason Marvel made it through the early ’60s B) a cash cow for whoever owns him C) the most relatable superhero of all time and D) everything that modern-day superheroes should strive to be. With so many variations of the character, it can be difficult to pick the best of them. Difficult, yes. Impossible, no. Here are the top 10 best Spider-Man characters in the history of the character.
Who knew that a parody of Marvel’s most recognizable hero would one day turn into a license to print money? Larry Hama, Tom Defalco, and Mark Armstrong created Spider-Ham. He first appeared in 1983 on the pages of Marvel Tails Starring Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham. As a parody, he’s identical to Peter Parker in every way except his appearance. As his name implies, he’s an anthropomorphic pig masquerading as a superhero.
Peter was actually born a spider. It was only after he was bit by the animal scientist May Porker that he transformed into the pig-like humanoid that we know him today. As one of the stranger offshoots of Spider-Man, Spider-Ham is everything you’d expect from a time period of creation that tried anything and everything to sell books.
9. Spider-Man Noir
During the late 2010s, Marvel created an entire universe based around a Noir theme. The Universe includes characters from the X-Men, the superheroes Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, the Punisher, and Spider-Man. Hailing from Earth-90214, Spider-Man Noir might be the most unique of anyone on this list of the greatest Spider-Man characters.
Just like the original Spider-Man, Spider-Man-Noir can stick to walls, possesses precognition, has superhuman attributes, and can shoot webs. Not like Spider-Man, Spider-Man Noir is will use firearms to subdue his enemies. Of all the firearms available, his weapon of choice is a pair of .45 caliber pistols. Although he’s hesitant to kill, he has, at times, do it when required. Spider-Man Noir didn’t garner too much media attention until Nicolas Cage voiced him in the animated movie Into The Spider-Verse.
8. Spider-Man 2099
Unlike many others on this list, Spider-Man 2099 didn’t come to be because he was bitten by a radioactive spider. Nope. Spider-Man 2099 came to be after an accident caused half of his DNA to be rewritten with a spider’s genetic code. Once rewritten, he learned that he possessed a superhuman performance level, had talons that folded over and allowed him to crawl walls, he could inject venom into his opponents with a bite from his fangs, healed quicker, could see farther, and, of course, shoot webs from his body.
Spider-Man 2099 was a by-product of the 1990s comic craze. During this time, publishers, writers, and artists scrambled to get as many new characters as they could into their comic books. No matter how he came to be, however, Spider-Man 2099 has become a fan-favorite and one of the greatest Spider-Man characters in existence.
7. Scarlet Spider
Scarlet Spider (Ben Reilly) is a clone of the original Spider-Man, Peter Parker. As his clone, he can do pretty much anything Peter can. He was created by the supervillain known as the Jackal as a way to compete and beat Peter in battle. Fortunately, things didn’t go Jackal’s way, and rather than fighting Peter, he aligned himself with him.
His rise to infamy came during the much-maligned Clone Saga story. After Peter Parker gave up being Spider-Man, Ben took up the role of Spider-Man. His time, however, was short-lived. During an encounter with the Green Goblin, Ben sacrificed himself so that Peter Parker would live and once again become Spider-Man. Say what you want about how he came to be, but Scarlet Spider is one of the most recognizable Spider-Man’s ever created.
Spider-Woman is the most different from the first Spider-Man of any character on this list of the greatest Spider-Man characters. Rather than just sticking to walls and swinging on webs, she glides through the air on wings, projects energy, is able to manipulate the pheromones of her opponents, and is a master spy.
Although she was created in 1977, it took decades for her popularity to rise to countable levels. This is primarily because she was most likely created as a one-off character designed to establish some sort of trademark for the name. Remember, the late 60s and early 70s saw both Marvel and DC doing their best to take each other’s lapsed copyrights and trademarks.
Since her creation, Spider-Woman has been an integral member of many high-profile Marvel teams. These include S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D., Avengers, Secret Avengers, and Lady Liberators.
Silk is everything that Spider-Man is…and she has both an eidetic memory and is able to organically create webs from her fingers.
Silk (Cindy Moon) first appeared as a cameo in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man#1. She later appeared in full form in The Amazing Spider-Man #4. She was created by Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos. As Spider-Man’s copy, she can stick to almost any surface, has superhuman strength, speed, reflexes, durability, and endurance is a master combatant, and possesses precognition.
Silk rose to fame during her first run and in the crossover event, Original Sin. Shortly after, she received her first solo series and had been marked to appear in the upcoming Into The Spider-Verse 2 movie. Silk is everything that a new-age Spider should be and therefore, she’s an easy inclusion on this list of the greatest Spider-Man characters.
Similar to Silk, Spider-Gwen was created in 2014. Different than Silk, she first appeared on the pages of Edge of Spider-Verse #2. Spider-Gwen comes from an alternate reality of Earth-65. In that reality her best friend, Peter Parker isn’t Spider-Man. Instead, he’s the villain known as the Lizard. To become the Lizard, Peter purposely ingests some chemicals.
Sadly, the side effects of chemicals were unknown and as a result, Peter ends up dying from them. Now stricken with grief, Gwen pledges to use her powers for the betterment of humankind. And what powers does she have, you ask? She can do everything that Peter Parker can plus she can inter-dimensionally travel. Spider-Gwen was an instant hit with readers from all walks of life. Not only was she praised for her unique but impressive costume, but she was also praised for being a role model for girls all over the world.
3. Miles Morales
There may not be a different version of Spider-Man more widely loved than Miles Morales. Miles Morales launched into the scene in June of 2011. He proved to be so popular that by 2018 he was starring in his own movie, Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse. Similar to the Peter Parker version of Spider-Man, Miles is able to stick to walls, has superhuman strength, speed, and durability, and possesses precognition.
Where he differs is that he can also emit an electric shock from his body. Miles isn’t only one of the most popular characters created in the last 15 years, he’s also one of the most important. This is so much that if Marvel were to ever retire Peter Parker he could easily step in and make the world forget that Peter even existed.
2. Symbiote Spider-Man
Aside from his normal blue and red costume, there isn’t a costume or persona more widely known than the Symbiote Spider-Man. The black costumed Spider-Man came to be after an alien entity inadvertently boarded a rocket ship destined for Earth. Once on Earth, it sought out a host. That host, Peter Parker, accepted the Symbiote. As a result, his already impressive abilities were heightened. This, however, came at a cost as Peter began acting more aggressively toward his friends and enemies.
Peter studied the alien and learned that it reacted poorly to loud noises. To separate himself, he made his way to a nearby church and waited for the bell to chime. At the chime of the bell, the Symbiote removed itself from Peter and looked for a new host. That new host turned out to be Eddie Brock. Although the Symbiote has bonded itself to many important characters in the Marvel Universe, nothing can change the fact that it bonded with Peter Parker first.
And we save the best for last. There isn’t a character in Marvel more recognizable, popular, and important than the original Spider-Man. Not only did he begin the Marvel Age of Comics, but his popularity also gave Marvel the ability to create some of the most important supervillains in comic history.
Spider-Man is the prototype after which every other Spider character is modeled after. He is as perfect a creation as there has ever been. Where he differentiated himself from many other superheroes of the era in his everyday problems. While most superheroes lived a carefree life of luxury, Spider-Man was a teenager who struggled with girls, struggled to keep his grades up, and struggled to help his Aunt with the household bills.
The original Spider-Man is the reason that Marvel Comics took a stranglehold on the market in the 60s and 70s. Without him, the company surely would’ve folded. As the most important character at Marvel, any spot but number one on this list of greatest Spider-Man characters is an insult.