Willem Dafoe Reminds 'Spider-Man: No Way Home' Viewers Why Green Goblin Is the BEST Villain

Back in 2002 Willem Dafoe made his debut as the Green Goblin in Spider-Man but almost 20 years later, he reached new heights of villainy in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Dafoe is just one of the many returning baddies in the new MCU movie but in a movie packed with talent, he shines and reminds audiences why his character is known as Peter Parker's biggest foe.

Tom Holland leads the cast once again as the eponymous Spider-Man, joined by Zendaya, Jacob Batalon and Marisa Tomei. Alfred Molina, Jamie Foxx, Rhys Ifans and Thomas Haden Church all reprise their roles as villains from the Tobey Maguire-fronted Spider-Man trilogy and the Andrew Garfield-led The Amazing Spider-Man films. Despite all of the returning talent, Dafoe stands out as Norman Osborn, aka the Green Goblin, impacts the story of Spider-Man: No Way Home more than anyone else.

A spoiler warning is in effect from this point on.

The trailers for Spider-Man: No Way Home downplayed Dafoe's role in the movie, instead focusing on Molina's Doctor Octavius as the movie's main threat. Those who've seen the latest Marvel film will know this isn't the case at all.

Willem Dafoe as a Fragile Norman Osborn

Even in the first act of the movie we are led to believe that this is a reformed Norman Osborn who has shaken off the demons that the Green Goblin plants in his head. He finds Aunt May who helps ease the tension between Norman and Peter setting them both on a collaborative path as they try to heal each of the villains.

Green Goblin Spider-Man: No Way Home
Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) with a Pumpkin Bomb in hand in "Spider-Man: No Way Home." Sony Releasing Pictures

Dafoe shows a fragility to Norman which makes us trust and buy into the character. This ultimately makes his eventual betrayal even more devastating.

Peter Parker's "tingle" kicks in while everyone is working and after Doctor Octavius has been healed, singling out Osborn whose Green Goblin alter-ego appears to be in control once again.

Double-Crossing Peter Parker

After a fight ensues, with absolutely no remorse, Norman Osborn attacks Peter and his Aunt May which leads to a devastating moment, but something which has become a right of passage for the Spider-Men in all universes.

Despite coming to blows on screen, Holland had nothing but respect for Dafoe and his performance in an interview with ComicBookMovie.com. "It was honestly incredible," he said. "So many pinch me moments. He would say things he had said in the previous movies and everyone would get chills down the back of their spines. It was awesome. It really was incredible and I couldn't dream of a better version."

Willem Dafoe
Willem Dafoe attends Sony Pictures' "Spider-Man: No Way Home" Los Angeles Premiere on December 13, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

This is your second spoiler warning.

Just like previous Aunt May, Rosemary Harris did with Doc Oc in Spider-Man 2, Tomei's Aunt May takes it upon herself to help Peter and attack a villain. In this case, Norman retaliates by throwing a Pumpkin Bomb at the pair. We think Aunt May survived the blast, as she begins to deliver the legendary "With great power" speech, but she soon dies as a result of her injuries.

This death crushes Peter and sets him on a dark path of revenge, but he's stopped by a familiar face who knows exactly what it's like to fight the Green Goblin.

Destroying the Universe

This is your third and final spoiler warning.

Thanks to Ned and MJ, Holland's Peter Parker finds himself mentors in the form of Peter Parkers from other worlds, namely Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield.

In one of the most fan-pleasing moments from the entire MCU, the trio team up to fight the five villains, and aim to heal all of them, even Green Goblin who just killed Aunt May.

Eventually Green Goblin enters the fight and proves to be the most chaotic bad guy by almost literally destroying the entire world. He lodges a Pumpkin Bomb inside of Doctor Strange's device which breaks a spell thus fracturing the multiverse.

Holland's Peter gets into a brutal one-on-one fight with Green Goblin, which is actually something Willem Dafoe demanded as part of signing up to the movie. Speaking in an interview to promote the movie, Dafoe said: "To do this physical stuff was important to me. In fact, one of the first things I said to [director] Jon [Watts] and [producer] Amy [Pascal], basically when they pitched it to me before there was even a script was, 'listen, I don't want to just pop in there as a cameo or just fill in in close-ups. I want to do the action because that's fun for me.'"

Being there to shoot the action in person was important to Dafoe as it is "really impossible to add integrity or any fun to the character" without it. He said: "All of that action stuff informs your relationships to the characters and the story. It makes you earn your right to play the character."

Getting Revenge on an Old Foe

Just when you think Dafoe has done as much damage as he could within the movie, he has one last remorseless trick up his sleeve. When Maguire's Peter Parker saves him from Holland's Peter, Green Goblin stabs his old nemesis in the back, almost killing him.

Luckily Holland and Garfield combine to cure Norman Osborn of his Green Goblin tendencies and instantly we see the manic and chaotic look on his face fade to one of instant regret and hurt.

Although he's cured and sent back to his own world and timeline, Dafoe and Osborn's actions have forever altered our Peter Parker's life. He now lives in a world without Aunt May and where no one knows he's Spider-Man, all because of the Green Goblin and those dastardly Pumpkin Bombs.

Spider-Man: No Way Home is out in movie theaters everywhere now.

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