Spider-Man is amazing, and you’re wrong if you think otherwise. The character, through seemingly endless retellings in all sorts of media, has transcended his story to become something bigger. He’s an icon, an inspiration, an actual modern American classic. His story is about a good-hearted underdog granted great powers who has to learn that he must use them responsibly. Part of the appeal of the character comes from his ability to be relatable. He’s hotheaded and prone to making mistakes, just like everyone else. Its part of what makes the audience connect so deeply to his triumphs and tragedies.
And sometimes, those errors in judgement or little mistakes cross the line from minor errors to horrible crimes. Spider-Man has done a LOT of terrible things over the years, and not just to the bad guys. Some of his closest friends and family have had to suffer from his mistakes, and even the entire world on more than one occasion. This is a guy who has made deals with devils in plains clothes, and also devils who are literally, like, 100% the actual devil. Any one of these moves would have made him a bad person, but doing all of them makes him a terrible person. And these aren’t even “alternate universe” comics; these are all still canon within the life of Spider-Man as depicted in the mainline Marvel comics. Spider-Man probably deserves a punch in the face for doing all these things.
15. He Ignored His Drug-Addled Friend
Some of the more consistent elements in the Spider-Man franchise, across countless retellings and reboots, have been the major supporting characters that Peter Parker meets and lives with. And one of the most important is usually Harry Osborn, arguably his best friend. But the two have had their share of problems over the years, usually because Harry ends up following in his father’s footsteps and becoming the Green Goblin. But it’s not like Peter is blameless in their relationship either, as he has pulled some truly jerk moves on his buddy over the years. The harshest happened in the 1970s, shortly after Gwen Stacy is killed by Green Goblin tossing her off a bridge and Peter accidentally snapped her neck from the whiplash trying to save her.
By this point in the series, Harry has fallen hard into drug addiction, and is struggling to find calm or recovery. He begs Peter for help, sweating and panting and clearly is in pain. But Peter, obsessed with finding Green Goblin and enacting his revenge for Gwen’s death, just ignores his friend’s pleas for help and even calls him out as he storms out of the apartment. And then like, three hours later, Harry’s dad gets killed by his own glider in the middle of a fight with Spider-Man. Can’t really blame Harry for trying to blow Peter up with pumpkin bombs after all that.
14. He Gave J. Jonah Jameson A Heart Attack
Peter has always had an interesting relationship with his employer/enemy, J. Jonah Jameson. The crusty old windbag has had it in for Spider-Man since he first showed up, gleefully tearing him down in the press every chance he gets. And in public, he treats Peter barely any better. But Jonah has a (deeply, deeply hidden) core of good to him, usually shown in his surprising loyalty and commitment to the people he cares about. He even helps Peter out with money on occasion, without ever cluing Peter in to it. He truly cares for the young man. Which is what makes Civil War so harsh. In the story, Peter reveals his identity to the world, and on live television. The shock of it all actually gives Jonah a heart attack that he barely survives. Soon, his entire paper’s integrity is brought into question, and his life’s work is put at risk. But more than anything, Jonah is incredibly hurt that Peter would do that to him, and vows to never forgive him. Luckily for their relationship, Jonah (and the rest of the world) soon lost their memory of the event, but we’ll get to that one.
13. He Punched A Woman Extremely Violently
Spider-Man vs. Wolverine is an underrated late-80s Marvel classic, and one of the darkest storylines for Peter to ever find himself in. Spider-Man is in Germany on assignment for the Daily Bugle when he stumbles into an international espionage mission, several assassination attempts, and worst of all, Wolverine. Classic Marvel misunderstandings see the two brawling. There’s even a panel where Spider-Man is just beating Wolverine’s head against a tombstone, and Wolverine just keeps smiling through the pain. The crux of the story centers on a woman going by Charlemagne, or Charlie to her friends (so basically just Wolverine). She’s a spy and old friend of Wolverine’s, exhausted by the dangers and horrors of the world she lives in. She’s pretty willing to just let herself be captured, but Wolverine doesn’t want that for her. She decides she’s had enough, though, and essentially takes her own life by sneaking up on Spider-Man and surprising him. Thinking it’s an angry Wolverine, Spider-Man turns and throws a punch, and she becomes Spider-Man’s first official kill. The memory still haunts him to this day, at least when it’s brought up.
12. He Keeps Ruining Aunt May’s Life
Poor Aunt May. She is essentially Peter’s adopted mother and only remaining relative after the death of Uncle Ben. Peter adores her, and she loves him right back. But Peter just keeps finding ways to ruin every new attempt she makes at happiness, which is a bummer. She spends much of her time working with charities around the city, which are always thrown for a loop when Peter ends up fighting super villains across the city and crash into her location. She’s been kidnapped and used as a weapon against Peter by a number of villains, the most notable probably being the time she spent kidnapped and held against her will, so that Green Goblin could convince Spider-Man she was dead just for laughs because Green Goblin is nuts. Even her attempts to find companionship again after Ben have all been ruined by Peter. And sure, that time she almost married Dr. Octopus (seriously) needed to be stopped. But her other major love interests (J. Jonah Jameson’s father and Nathan Lubensky) have both died, thanks to the kind of super villain nonsense Spider-Man brings into their lives.
11. He Made Fun Of Dr. Octopus After Giving Him Brain Damage
Speaking of Dr. Octopus, the mad scientist with extra metal arms could make the case for being Spider-Man’s most consistent and deadly enemy. He’s tried to end the world multiple times, and has no qualms about letting innocents die in the path to his victories. But that doesn’t lessen the horror of the damage he suffers from Spider-Man. Specifically, all the brain damage. While meeting with a doctor, Dr. Octopus is revealed to have taken so many super-powered blows to the head that it’s actively destroying his brain, and will lead to a painful and slow demise. Not long after, Dr. Octopus attacks the world and is revealed to have been reduced to a quivering, skinny shell of a man. And while Spider-Man stopped him (obviously) by punching him in the head some more, he should probably lay off all the quips and jokes about the dying man in front of him.
10. He Violently Attacked A Woman
Spider-Man has some of the best powers in the superhero world, easily. His Spider-Sense and reflexes are so good that he’s practically impossible to hit. His strength is enough to throw a car at someone. And his ability to stick to walls makes him extremely maneuverable and stealthy. Those sticky hands are also useful for the most horrifying move to use on villains. During a storyline where the family of a fallen foe capture (and even kill) many of Peter’s greatest allies, Peter decides he’s had enough and turns it around on his oppressors. He proceeds to bring down the family, saving the mother of the family for last. When he corners her, he uses a move developed by his anti-hero clone Kaine (long story, don’t ask) to put his hand on her face, stick it to her face, and then pull it off. You know pulling band-aids hurt like hell? Now imagine it’s a super strong band-aid, and it’s on your face. The most important rule of the Marvel Universe: do NOT get Spider-Man mad.
9. He Had An Affair With One Of His Best Friends
Spider-Man has had a number of love interests over the years, and none of the relationships exactly ended on great terms. Black Cat hates him, Carlie Cooper and Debra White booked it as soon as possible, Mary Jane got out of dodge after a ridiculous amount of crap that we’ll get to later in this list, and Gwen died a particularly sudden and horrible death. So his first real love interest, Betty Brant, got off pretty light, and has even remained close friends with him over the years. That friendship almost derailed a marriage though. During the 80s, Betty was married to Bugle reporter Ned Leeds (not Peter’s buddy from Homecoming, who is really a different character who was renamed Ned). But during a rough patch, she rekindled feelings for Peter, and the two ended a brief affair. It’s even implied that they spent the night together, which isn’t the best move in the world, Petey. Don’t worry, though. They eventually come to their senses, Betty and Ned work out all their problems, and Ned is promptly murdered early in the Spider-Man vs. Wolverine book we talked about earlier.
8. He Backhanded His Pregnant Wife Across the Room With Super Strength
So, the 90s were a famously rough time for Marvel comics that even saw the company go bankrupt at one point. Huge event comics were pitched as attempts to bring in as many readers as humanly possible, and that meant one for Spider-Man too. The much maligned Clone Saga saw Peter confronted with the possibility that he’s not the real Peter Parker, but a clone who took his place years earlier. When that possibility is seemingly confirmed, Peter is enraged by the concept. A then pregnant Mary Jane goes to comfort him, and Peter ends up backhanding her so hard that she’s flung across the room. Wow. It’s a crazy moment for the character, and probably the worst thing he’s done. Luckily, the baby wasn’t hurt. Instead, the baby was stillborn or possibly stolen by Green Goblin and got an “alternate future universe” spin-off series that is technically still the longest running Marvel series with a female lead. Comics are weird, you guys.
7. He Almost Killed Kingpin With His Bare Hands
Things didn’t go great for Spider-Man in the fallout of the Civil War event. Having initially sided with Iron Man, Peter grows skeptical of their tactics and switches sides over to Captain America and his resistance. But the world still knows his identity, something many of his villains try to exploit for their own attempts of revenge. Among them is Kingpin, the Daredevil nemesis who actually originated as a bad guy in Spider-Man books. He puts a hit on Peter, and a sniper attempts to assassinate him. And while Peter dodges the shot, it still finds a target – Aunt May. Peter proceeds to just ruin everyone in his path to Kingpin, and then proceeds to beat the man almost to death in full view of cameras and witnesses. Seriously, guys, don’t make Spider-Man mad. It’s not worth it.
6. He Killed A Guy And Did Something Disgusting Afterwards
So here’s the part of the article where I have to talk about (ugh) The Other, even if I really don’t want to. But it happens to have maybe one his most brutal takedowns ever, especially considering that by the end of it, he crossed some major lines. So, Peter has been finding himself afflicted with some magical mumbo jumbo that weakened him, just before the energy vampire Morlun finds him. Morlun beats him down pretty badly and almost manages to kill him, until Peter is saved at the last minute and taken to a hospital. There, Morlun attacks again but Peter gives into the mystical aspect of the story, pops some bone claws, kills Morlun with them, and then starts to eat him because this story is trash. Seriously, it is a MAJOR line for Peter to hit, even if he was in the middle of some magic madness at the time.
5. He Mind-Wiped The Entire Planet
Spidey basically does this as a victory dance in the end. Following the events of Civil War and the whole thing with Kingpin, Spider-Man found himself in a moral quandary. His life and the lives of his loved ones have been completely upended by his actions. So, he decides he has to do something about it. It’s just that the something he decides on is straight-up some super villain caliber stuff: namely, he guilt trips Iron Man and Dr. Strange into helping him invade the minds of every single person on the planet, and removes the knowledge they have of Peter Parker being Spider-Man. Which, beyond the pretty obvious villainous implications in general of invading everyone’s minds, manages to up that invasion of privacy by essentially brainwashing the information out of everyone’s heads. It’s crazy, but just happens to be the fallout from another even crazier moment we’ll get to later.
4. He Made Out With Gwen Stacy’s Daughter In Front Of His Wife
Here’s a nice reminder of just how bonkers superhero comics can get, and heads up: it involves Spider-Man making out with a young girl. See, in the mid-2000s, it was revealed that Gwen Stacy, Peter’s long dead girlfriend, had been keeping a terrible secret from Peter. During their relationship, she had gone to Europe for a few months to study/cope with her father’s death. This actually happened in the classic Spider-Man comics, but the additional reason was added in the 2000s. See, it turned out she was pregnant with the Green Goblin’s children (seriously) and wanted to give birth to them in France, away from Osborn and his influence. Thanks to the radioactive Goblin blood, the children mature at an advanced rate, and looked like 25-year-olds at the age of 10. They tried to kill Peter because Green Goblin convinced them to do it, but the daughter switched sides and helped Spider-Man. Not long after, Peter and Mary Jane went to visit her in France and Peter spent time alone with the young woman. She surprised him with a kiss, and he didn’t run off screaming and vomiting. Instead he kissed back a little, until his wife walked into the room.
3. He Beat Up Daredevil For Protecting A Murderer
Spider-Man and Daredevil actually have one of the most interesting relationships in the Marvel Universe. The two aren’t exactly friends in the way Peter is with Human Torch. They’re more like work colleagues who have a great deal of respect for one another and trust the other to have their backs. Daredevil is even one of the very first people Peter ever confides his secret identity in. It’s a solid relationship to explore, except for that time Spider-Man beat him up badly. When a serial killer called the Sin-Eater starts targeting New Yorkers, everyone is on edge enough already. But then Peter’s friend and ally on the police force, Jean DeWolf, is killed by Sin-Eater, and Spidey gets mad. He tears the city apart looking for him, and beats him senseless as soon as he finds him. He’s even ready to kill him when Daredevil intervenes, arguing for due process, justice, and humanity. Spider-Man responds to these ideas by beating Daredevil senseless and across the area, all the while yelling at him for being a bad hero. It takes Daredevil – already pretty roughed up from the Spidey beating – jumping into a mob to save Sin-Eater’s life to remind Peter about the whole superhero thing.
2. He Killed His Wife With Radioactive “Stuff”
So, this one is from an alternate universe and I know that’s breaking the rule I set for myself, but look. There was no way I was going to write this list without mentioning the time Peter Parker killed his wife with radioactive “fluid.” Marvel has released a number of books over the years that essentially serve as hypothetical “final stories” for many of their characters, one of which was Spider-Man: Reign. The comic saw an elderly Spider-Man reluctantly forced back into costume after years of retirement. But what got him to take off the costume in the first place? It was the death of Mary Jane, who got severe cancer from her exposure to Peter and his radioactive fluids. I know, guys. These comics are incredibly weird.
1. He Made A Deal With The Literal Devil
After Aunt May was shot by Kingpin’s assassin and on the verge of dying, Peter and Mary Jane were approached by a tall, crimson figure, named Mephisto, a.k.a. the Marvel version of Satan. Mephisto made them an offer to save Aunt May’s life, in exchange for the portion of reality that contained their marriage, because that’s apparently what the devil gets off on. And you would think Mr. Great Power Comes With Great Responsibility would stay strong in the face of the ultimate evil, but nope! Spidey shakes his hand, makes a deal with the actual devil, and sacrifices the existence of his marriage to Mary Jane for the chance to save a dying Aunt May. That’s what our hero does. Mephisto isn’t even disguised as a dude in a suit or something! And that still isn’t the worst thing that the impulsive and selfish moron Spidey has done.