Last week I covered one of DC’s biggest villains, so this week I’ll cover one of Marvel’s. Doc Ock is one of the most recognizable Marvel villains, and Spider-Man’s most recurring and dangerous enemy. For the second week of Villains Month, let’s cover the result of a science experiment gone wrong: Doc Ock.
While DC can be broken up into ages (Golden Age, Silver Age, etc.), Marvel cannot. Marvel’s characters transform over time and evolve, and don’t get reincarnated like DC’s characters. Their depictions don’t change. As a result the amount of information on Doc Ock is enormous, and broken up into numerous storylines. I’ll try and summarize the best I can.
Doc Ock first appeared in July of 1967 in Amazing Spider-Man #3, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Lee thought of the name before coming up with any characterization. He was once a scientist who, as a result of a lab accident, became fused with his invention: two pairs of mechanical arms he became able to control. He became sensitive to the light and must wear a pair of sunglasses every time he’s outdoors. Ock is often analyzed as being a physical portrayal of what Spiderman would’ve become if without his morality.
Ock formed the original Sinister Six, and is often described as the de facto leader of the group. He also was at one point a tenant of May Parker (for a scheme) and was also going to marry her (again, for a scheme). After escaping prison at one point and fighting Spiderman, he killed Gwen Stacy’s (Spider-Gwen) father George Stacy. While mainly fighting Spider-Man, Ock also fought other villains such as Hammerhead in the “Secret Wars” storyline.
His most evil act was the savage beating of Black Cat, then Spider-Man’s partner. Spiderman thus savagely beat Ock, leading Ock to suffer from arachnophobia. Spidey had to cure this so that Ock could save New York City. At one point Ock is killed by Kaine, a crazed Spider-Man clone, after the villain finds the original Spider-Man’s identity.
The Hand, a powerful ninja organization, resurrected him, but he lost all memory of Spider-Man’s alias. He created Spider-Woman and later tried and failed to recreate the Sinister Six. Doc Ock then faces death, his body becoming crippled as a result of the toll crime has had on his body. He commits a variety of reckless felonies before accepting the error of his ways towards the end of his life, where the Doc Ock as we know him dies, with his physical form being eliminated and his reign of villainy coming to an end. It’s to be noted that this is not the end of his character, but it is an end to his role as a villain.
Doctor Octopus in Other Media
Given that his role in the comics is so important, he’s appeared in most of the film and television adaptations of Spiderman and several other Superheroes, like The Hulk, in all of which he’s animated. Though the character has generally been faithfully adapted to the screen, slight variations have appeared in backstory and appearance. In some adaptations, he’s pale with long, black hair. In some he’s thin and sinewy. In the 1990s Spider-Man series, he has a thick Germanic accent and is Peter Parker’s high school teacher. In Marvel’s Spider-Man, he starts as an arrogant but brilliant teen prodigy. Voice actors who have played him include Stanley Jones, Michael Bell, and Efram Zimbalist, Jr., who later was the voice for Alfred Pennyworth in Batman: The Animated Series. However, Tom Kenny, the voice of the Ice King in Adventure Time and the titular character of Spongebob, primarily voiced this role.
There have only been two major film appearances of the character. In the live-action Spider-Man movies, he was played by Alfred Molina who intends to play him in upcoming movies. This is the character’s only live-action portrayal. In Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, he’s a she, Dr. Olivia Octavius, who sports a beehive hairstyle and octagonal glasses. In the film, she acts as Kingpin’s right-hand woman.
The character has been adapted into many video games featuring Spider-man and other Marvel properties. He often acts as the boss, and if not a major opponent. He appeared as downloadable content in the puzzle platformer LittleBigLanet.
Doc Ock has played an integral role in the comics, and the movies, TV shows, and video games based on them. He’s gone through many transformations throughout his history, dying twice and getting to marry his archnemesis’ aunt. Only time will tell what’s next for the character, and if we’ll see any of his transformations in film.
Villains: Doctor Octopus
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