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Norman Osborn

For his grandson, see Normie Osborn.
Norman Osborn
Art by Mike Deodato. Background art by John Romita, Sr..
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance as Green Goblin:
The Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964)
The Amazing Spider-Man 23 (April 1965)
named as Norman Osborn:
The Amazing Spider-Man #37 (June 1966)
as Iron Patriot:
Dark Avengers #1 (March 2009)
as Goblin King:
Superior Spider-Man #10 (July 2013)
as Mason Banks:
Superior Spider-Man #17 (November 2013)
Created by Stan Lee
Steve Ditko
In-story information
Full name Norman Virgil Osborn
Team affiliations Dark Avengers
The Cabal
Sinister Twelve
Commission on Superhuman Activities
Daily Bugle
Hellfire Club[1]
Goblin Nation
Notable aliases Green Goblin, Iron Patriot, Goblin King, Mason Banks
  • Superhuman strength, stamina, durability, agility and reflexes due to ingesting the Goblin Formula
  • Regenerative healing factor
  • Genius-level intellect
  • Skilled in hand-to-hand combat and martial arts
  • Uses goblin-themed weapons and a Goblin Glider which has a variety of offensive weapons as paraphernalia
  • Power of the Super-Adaptoid allows him to absorb the powers of any superhuman he makes physical contact with

Norman Osborn is a fictional supervillain who appears in the comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, and first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964) as the original and most well-known incarnation of Green Goblin. Originally an amoral industrialist head of Oscorp and Harry Osborn's father, he took the Goblin Formula which enhanced his physical abilities and intellect but also drove him to insanity. He adopted a Halloween-themed appearance, dressing in a goblin costume, riding on a bat-shaped "Goblin Glider", and using an arsenal of high-tech weapons, notably grenade-like "Pumpkin Bombs", to terrorize New York City. He is one of Spider-Man's most persistent foes and archenemies,[2][3][4] being responsible for numerous tragedies in Spider-Man's life (such as Gwen Stacy's death and the Clone Saga). However, he has also come into conflict with other superheroes in the Marvel Universe, and was the focus of the company-wide Dark Reign storyline as the original version of Iron Patriot.

The character was played by Willem Dafoe in the 2002 film Spider-Man, and is portrayed by Chris Cooper in the 2014 film The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In 2009, Norman Osborn was also ranked as IGN's 13th Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.[5]

Publication history

File:Amazing Spider-Man no, 14 (1964) (cover).jpg
The Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964), the Green Goblin's first appearance; the character originally used a turbo-fan-powered "flying broomstick." Cover art by Steve Ditko.

According to Steve Ditko, "Stan's synopsis for the Green Goblin had a movie crew, on location, finding an Egyptian-like sarcophagus. Inside was an ancient, mythological demon, the Green Goblin. He naturally came to life. On my own, I changed Stan's mythological demon into a human villain."[6]

The Green Goblin debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #14. At the end of the story, the Green Goblin is shown changing out of his costume (but with his face obscured), consoling himself that although he was unsuccessful in his scheme, his secret identity remains safe. However, the mystery of the Green Goblin's true identity was not played up until the fourth story arc featuring him, in The Amazing Spider-Man #26-27. Apparently, Lee and Ditko disagreed on who he should be. According to one theory, Lee always wanted him to be someone Peter Parker knew, while Ditko wanted him to be a stranger, feeling this was closer to real life.[7] However, Ditko recounted: "So I had to have some definite ideas: who he was, his profession and how he fit into the Spider-Man story world. I was even going to use an earlier, planted character associated with J. Jonah Jameson: he [was to] be [revealed as] the Green Goblin. It was like a subplot working its way until it was ready to play an active role."[6]

Ditko left the series with issue #38, before he could reveal Green Goblin's identity, and Lee unmasked him in the next issue as Norman Osborn, a character who had been introduced two issues earlier as Harry Osborn's father. John Romita, Sr., who replaced Ditko as the title's artist, recalled:
Stan wouldn't have been able to stand it if Ditko did the story and didn't reveal that the Green Goblin was Norman Osborn. I didn't know there was any doubt about Osborn being the Goblin. I didn't know that Ditko had just been setting Osborn up as a straw dog. I just accepted the fact that it was going to be Norman Osborn when we plotted it. I had been following the last couple of issues and didn't think there was really much mystery about it. Looking back, I doubt the Goblin's identity would have been revealed in Amazing #39 if Ditko had stayed on.[8]

In the landmark story "The Night Gwen Stacy Died" (The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122), the Green Goblin kills Gwen Stacy and later perishes in a fight against Spider-Man. Others, such as Harry Osborn, later adopted the Green Goblin identity, and writer Roger Stern later introduced the Hobgoblin to replace the Green Goblin as Spider-Man's archenemy.[9] In addition, a retcon during the "Clone Saga" determined that Norman Osborn survived the events of The Amazing Spider-Man #122 and had been playing a behind-the-scenes role in Spider-Man's adventures since then.


During the Clone Saga storyline, the Spider-Man writers were met with a massive outcry from many readers after the decision to replace Peter Parker with his clone Ben Reilly as the true Spider-Man. Eventually, the writers decided to reveal that one of Spider-Man's arch-enemies had been manipulating events from behind the scenes. The initial plan was to use Mephisto, but they felt a more down-to-earth character was needed.[10] It was then suggested that the semi-zombified cyborg known as "Gaunt" be revealed as Harry Osborn who was killed in The Spectacular Spider-Man #200. Gaunt was a late entry to the controversial storyline, created mainly as a plot device to return Harry to life; the plan for the character included Harry regaining his humanity, taking credit for tricking Peter into thinking he was a clone and resuming his father's Green Goblin identity full-time. However, the plotline was rejected by newly promoted editor in chief Bob Harras,[11] and instead chose Norman to be the mastermind.

Osborn returns in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #75 and is blown up at the end of the issue. It is shown in Spectacular Spider-Man #250 that he has recovered and returns to his life without the Green Goblin identity. The character instead would attack Spider-Man through minions and smear campaigns designed to make him seem to be a monster. However, he would still wear his Green Goblin costume in battle.

New roles

Following the "Civil War" story arc, Warren Ellis began writing Thunderbolts,[12] and Osborn was brought into the title as the director of the team. He was one of several characters offered to Ellis, who picked him because, according to Thunderbolts editor Molly Lazer, "[t]here was something about Norman, his instability, and his fixation with Spider-Man that Warren liked, so he's in the book!"[13] Ellis admitted not being very familiar with the character, saying, "all I remember of the Norman Osborn character was from the Spider-Man reprints my parents used to buy me when I was very young, and Norman Osborn was this guy with a weird rippled crewcut who was always sweating and his eyes were always bulging out of his head. That guy as a Donald Rumsfeld-like public governmental figure... [Joe Quesada] talked me into writing the book while I was still laughing."[14] Lazer confirmed that the new team was answerable to the Commission on Superhuman Activities, giving him the opportunity to do what he wanted: "He's a free man with a lot of power .... And his agenda, well, it's not that secret. He wants to get Spider-Man."[15]

Writer Christos Gage took over for the Secret Invasion tie-in stories,[16][17] which end with Osborn taking credit for the defeat of the Skrulls, after he kills the Skrull queen Veranke.[18] This allowed the character to be placed into an influential position in the aftermath Dark Reign. Although the dark turn at the end was always part of the plan for the storyline, Brian Michael Bendis, Secret Invasion's writer, says that Osborn was picked for the leading role because of the changes implemented by Ellis: "While I was putting it together, Warren [Ellis]'s Thunderbolts run made it very clear that if one would choose to do so, Norman was on track to head toward this kind of storyline, very organically, very in-character, and very much within the realm of what was going on."[19] Bendis stated, "Norman's team is made up of people who are outstanding at what they do. These are bad-ass, hardcore get-it-done types. They'll close the door and take care of business, and he's dressing them up to make them something that the people want."[20]

Meanwhile, Andy Diggle took over the writing of Thunderbolts.[21] He introduced new characters to serve as Osborn's black ops team, explaining, "Norman selected agents with stealth, infiltration and assassination skills rather than overt flying-and-fighting type powers"[22] and "now that he's reached a higher level, he's reconfiguring the Thunderbolts into something much more covert and much more lethal: his own personal hit squad."[23] Diggle's Osborn is still mad: "To quote the movie Speed, he's 'crazy, not stupid.' He's clearly fiercely intelligent and a natural born leader, with the ego and competitive drive to succeed against all odds. He also just happens to be crazy as a shithouse rat." He describes his take on Osborn: "I think the secret to understanding Norman is that he doesn't realize he's the villain. He thinks he's the hero. He truly believes that he deserves public adulation, and it bugs the hell out of him that so-called 'superheroes' are getting it instead of him."[24]

He appeared as a regular character in the Dark Avengers series from issue #1 (March 2009) through issue #16 (June 2010), as well as the mini-series "Siege", which saw Norman being arrested for the crimes committed by him following the events of Civil War storyline. At this point, the character was officially reclassified as an Avengers villain and only made three minor appearances in Amazing Spider-Man. The first was "Brand New Ways To Die", which ran from Amazing Spider-Man #570-573 and featured Norman and the Thunderbolts versus Spider-Man and the original Venom. His second appearance was Amazing Spider-Man #580, which explained that, following Mephisto's alteration of Spider-Man's past, Norman's return was significantly altered. He had returned earlier than he had originally returned and that he had arranged for his son Harry's death to be faked with help from Mysterio, due to his concern for his son's mental well being after once again became the Green Goblin. His final appearance was in Amazing Spider-Man #595-599: in this storyline, Norman attempts to convince his son to become a super-hero so that he can kill him off and exploit his demise. It also revealed that he was sleeping with the super-villain Menace (Harry's ex-girlfriend), with Norman believing that the villan's child she was carrying was his.

A five issue mini-series followed, written by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Emma Rios. The mini-series would lead into a dual storyline running in the pages of New Avengers #17-24 and Avengers #18-24, in which the character formed a new version of the Dark Avengers and ultimately garnered new powers, having turned himself into a Super-Adaptoid.

Fictional character biography

Early life

Norman Osborn was born in New Haven, Connecticut as the son of industrialist Ambrose Osborn. Although Ambrose was a brilliant student in the fields of science, Norman's father became an alcoholic after losing control of his company and was physically abusive toward his family. Norman quickly came to despise his father, resolving to be a better breadwinner while developing early homicidal tendencies as a means of relieving the stress of his father's abuse.[25]

In college, where he studies chemistry and electrical engineering, Norman meets and gets married to his college sweetheart and they eventually have their son Harold "Harry" Osborn. In his adulthood, he co-founds the major firm Oscorp Industries with his former professor Mendel Stromm with himself as owner and president. However, his wife becomes ill and dies when Harry is barely a year old.[26] This tragedy pushes Norman to work harder, leading him to emotionally neglect Harry. Hoping to gain more control of Oscorp Industries, Osborn accuses Stromm of embezzlement and has his partner arrested. Norman then searches Stromm's possessions, discovering an experimental strength/intelligence enhancement formula. When Norman attempts to create the serum, it turns green and explodes in his face. The accident greatly increases his intelligence and physical abilities, but also drives him to destructive insanity.[27]

The Original Green Goblin

Norman Osborn adopts the Green Goblin identity with the goal of becoming boss of the city's organized crime. He intends to cement his position by defeating Spider-Man. Acting on his own as Green Goblin, or through his employment of other super-criminals such as the Headsman,[28] he would bedevil Spider-Man many times but fail to achieve his goal.[29] Mendal Stromm returns from prison and attempts revenge with an army of robots, but Osborn is saved by Spider-Man and Stromm apparently dies of a heart attack.[30] In order to discover his nemesis's secret identity, Osborn exposes Spider-Man to a gas that nullifies the web-slinger's spider-sense. This allows Osborn to stalk Spider-Man until he learns that his nemesis is Peter Parker, a college student and his son's classmate. Surprising Spider-Man's civilian identity, he knocks Parker out with an asphyxiation grenade and takes his foe to his waterfront base. After he unmasks himself to his captive, Parker goads him into recounting how he became Green Goblin, having enough time to break free. In the ensuing battle, Spider-Man accidentally knocks Osborn into a mass of electrical wires, wiping out his memory. To avoid shame, Spider-Man destroys the Green Goblin costume in the resulting fire and tells the authorities that Osborn lost his memory while helping defeat Green Goblin.[31]

Osborn is troubled by repressed memories of the Green Goblin and Spider-Man. After a presentation on supervillains by NYPD Captain George Stacy restores Osborn's memory, he experiences a brief return to his Green Goblin persona. While abducting Parker's friends and threatening Parker's elderly aunt, he is exposed to one of his own "psychedelic bombs", inducing another amnesia spell.[32] Later Osborn stumbles upon an old Green Goblin hideout which again restores his memory. However, the shock of seeing Harry Osborn hospitalized, overdosed on drugs, causes Osborn's amnesia to return yet again.[33]

After his memory returns yet again, the Green Goblin kidnaps and takes Gwen Stacy to a bridge.[34][35] During Spider-Man's rescue attempt, Osborn knocks Gwen off the bridge, resulting in the girl's death. Obsessed with revenge, Spider-Man tracks Green Goblin to his hideout, and Osborn is impaled by his own Goblin Glider in the ensuing battle.[36]


While at the morgue, the Green Goblin formula's healing factor restores his life. No longer suffering from bouts of amnesia, Norman Osborn escapes from the morgue and goes to Europe, where he can move freely and unnoticed.[37] During this time abroad when he's believed dead by the general public, he orchestrates several plots, including replacing Aunt May with a genetically altered actress,[38] and faking his son Harry Osborn's death.[39] Most significantly, however, he utilizes his fortune to build a vast network of criminals, spies, dupes and co-conspirators to help engineer what would be an almost impossibly complex and meticulously planned plot to destroy Spider-Man's life. To achieve this, he becomes the leader of the Scrier cabal consisting of Seward Trainer, Judas Traveller, the Jackal and the cyborg-like Gaunt as his pawns which he utilizes to carry out revenge on Peter Parker. It is this group of individuals who become crucial in duping Parker into thinking he is a clone created by Jackal,[40] and Ben Reilly is actually the original.[41] Frustrated by Parker's perseverance despite everything that's been inflicted upon him,[37] Osborn publicly reveals that he's alive on Halloween. During the destructive battle that ensues, Osborn attempts to kill Parker by impaling his nemesis with his Goblin Glider. When Reilly sacrifices himself to save Parker (and degenerates upon death as all clones do), Parker learns the truth that he's the original. During this same time, Osborn may or may not have murdered or abducted Peter's newborn daughter.[42]

The returned Osborn regains control of his business and also buys out the Daily Bugle, humiliating former friend and societal peer J Jonah Jameson having no longer has control over the newspaper. He also torments Ben Urich and demands a retraction over Urich's expose of his time as Green Goblin.[43] However, he saves his most sadistic treatment for Peter, acting not only as a constant reminder of all the pain he's inflicted on him over the years, but a looming threat that could strike at any time. The pressure eventually makes Spider-Man snap by savagely beating a civilian and non-resistant Osborn in front of his CCTV, which causes his nemesis to be wanted again.[44] For a time, Osborn retires his costumed persona and uses a stand-in so as not to be suspected of being the Green Goblin.[45] This fifth Green Goblin kidnaps Norman's grandson and clashes with a wanted and injured Spider-Man.[46] He also crosses paths with Roderick Kingsley and initiates a hostile takeover of the latter's corporate empire in retaliation for raiding the Goblin arsenal and identity.[47] Osborn joins a cult hoping to receive great power but instead goes further into madness, threatening the world with genetic bombs. It's during this time, Peter learns his Aunt May is alive and Osborn's actress died in her place. Osborn is so far gone as he hallucinates unmasking and killing Peter yet in reality Peter easily defeats him, but he is rescued from custody by his Scriers.[48] A few months later, Osborn, while still highly unstable, has partially regained his sanity with the help of anti-psychotic drugs. He comes to see Parker as the son he had always wanted and attempts to have Parker take on the Green Goblin mantle using physiological torture but ultimately fails.[49] Osborn's next plan involves using a drunken Flash Thompson to drive a truck into Midtown High School, resulting in an accident that causes Thompson brain damage. This successfully enrages Parker into what Osborn anticipates will be a climactic battle. During this confrontation, an emotionally weary Parker tells Osborn he is tired of this roundelay, and declares a truce.[50]

Osborn's identity as the Green Goblin is revealed to the public through an investigation by the Daily Bugle after Osborn murders one of its reporters. After a battle with Spider-Man and Luke Cage, Osborn is arrested and sent to prison for the first time.[51] Osborn masterminds a plot that forces Spider-Man himself to help him escape.[52] Osborn escapes to Paris but is apprehended by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.[53]

Years after Gwen Stacy's death, it is revealed that Osborn had a one-night stand with Gwen after she's overwhelmed by his charisma which in turn leads to her pregnancy with the twin children Gabriel and Sarah. Osborn thus has three motives for killing Gwen; revenge against Spider-Man, to prevent her talking of their affair and creating a scandal, and to take their children to raise by himself thus becoming his ideal heirs. The only person who knew of their liaison and the existence of their children was Mary Jane Watson despising Osborn for his immoral behaviors long before discovering he is the villainous Green Goblin.[54]

Rise and fall

Norman Osborn attempts to distance himself from his Green Goblin persona after being prescribed medication. During the "Civil War" over the Superhuman Registration Act, Osborn is appointed director of the Thunderbolts superhero team, now tasked to apprehend anyone who resists registering.[55] While in this capacity, he directs the Thunderbolts to apprehend or kill Spider-Man,[56] but a recent mind-wipe makes him forget Spider-Man's secret identity.[57] In the end, Spider-Man manages to evade this coordinated attack and escape.[58] During the "Secret Invasion" by the shape-shifting Skrulls alien race, Osborn shoots and kills the Skrulls queen Veranke.[59] He leverages this widely publicized success in defeating the Skrulls, he positions himself as the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D. which he in turn replaces with the paramilitary force H.A.M.M.E.R. to advance his agenda,[59] while using his public image to start his own personal Avengers consisting of Moonstone as Ms. Marvel, Bullseye as Hawkeye, Venom as Spider-Man, Daken as Wolverine and Noh-Varr as Captain Marvel, as well as manipulating Ares and the Sentry into helping further his cause. Osborn himself leads the team as the Iron Patriot, a suit of armor fashioned by himself after Iron Man's armor with Captain America's American flag colors.[60] Osborn simultaneously forms the Cabal alliance with Doctor Doom, Emma Frost, Namor, Loki and the Hood,[61] but this 'alliance' quickly falls apart when Namor and Frost betray the Cabal to aid the X-Men.[62]

His attempts to exert his authority are increasingly jeopardized by various superheroes. Osborn is tricked into attacking a brain damaged Tony Stark in an original Iron Man suit, thus showing Osborn brutally assaulting a physically and mentally incapable Stark that was even attempting to strike back.[63] The New Avengers use a tracking device Osborn had planted in Luke Cage to trick Osborn into blowing up his own house.[64] Osborn then creates a rationale to invade Asgard, claiming it poses a national security threat. During a pitched battle with several superheroes, Sentry causes Thor's world to fall to Earth. In the middle of Osborn's fight with Steve Rogers, Stark removes his armor remotely, revealing Osborn's green facepaint with green paint to create a goblin-like look. He tells them they are all dead as the Void is released.[65] Osborn knocks out Rogers and tries to escape, but is captured by Volstagg. Incarcerated in The Raft penitentiary, he blames his Green Goblin alter-ego for ruining his chance to protect the world as Iron Partiot.[66]

When transferred to a secret underwater government base, Osborn takes steps to ensure his release from prison. He uses a group of followers as the 'Green Goblin Cult' to break out with the aid of corrupt senators, planning to turn himself in after killing his fellow escapees, setting him up as a 'champion' of the judicial system.[67]

After the breakout he awaits his trial in a new prison, this one controlled by his cult members.[68] Using his staged persona as a voice for the 'disenfranchised', Osborn plans to regain the Iron Patriot armor and creates new Dark Avengers: June Covington as Scarlet Witch, Ai Apaec as Spider-Man, Barney Barton as Hawkeye, Skaar as Hulk, Superia as Ms. Marvel, Gorgon as Wolverine and an A.I.M. rebuilt Ragnarok as Thor.[69]

In the team's first fight with the New Avengers, Osborn reveals he has the Super-Adaptoid's powers and declares himself the head of world security and orders the Avengers arrested for war crimes. Revealing himself as a double agent, Skaar betrays Osborn, allowing the Avengers to dogpile Osborn's body. This overloads him with superpowers, placing him in a coma. A.I.M. and HYDRA pick up his leftover resources and H.A.M.M.E.R. is disbanded.[70]

Later after the Hobgoblin returns to New York, a nurse and doctor are called to Norman's hospital room only to find him gone.[71]

The Goblin King

When the children that work for the Vulture are discussing what to do after Superior Spider-Man (Otto Octavius' mind in Spider-Man's body) had brutally defeated Vulture, Green Goblin approaches them and tells them that he will be the one that crushes Superior Spider-Man.[72] Green Goblin is later shown having gathered a new gang of followers together in the sewers formed from discarded members of other villains' gangs like Vulture's gang, some Hand Ninjas, members of Owl's gang, and members of the third White Dragon's gang. These henchmen escaped as Superior Spider-Man is more focused on the larger threats where the original Spider-Man would focus on individuals. As he builds this army to attack Superior Spider-Man, Green Goblin takes up his new alias of the Goblin King.[73] The Hand ninjas that evaded capture made it to the sewers and joined up with Goblin King's Goblin Underground. They are rejoiced by the news that thanks to Superior Spider-Man's assault, Goblin King now owns over the half of New York's organized crime claiming that he now owns New York City as the Goblin Kingpin of Crime.[74]

With the help of Menace, the Goblin King later releases Phil Urich from a prison transport and upgrades Urich's Goblin armor and weapons. Goblin King asks only that Urich dedicate his only identity from here on as the Goblin Knight.[75] Goblin King trains Goblin Knight anxious to confront Superior Spider-Man.[76] Goblin King later poses as Hobgoblin and is sighted by some of the Spiderlings.[77]

Upon Carlie Cooper being brought to the Goblin King's lair by Menace, he receives Carlie's journal from Menace which reveals to him that Otto's mind is in Spider-Man's body.[78] Goblin King later douses Carlie with the Goblin formula, causing her to mutate into the new superhuman villain Monster. He demands to know Spider-Man's identity, but Monster first asks Goblin King to reveal his own identity. Goblin King assures her he is Norman Osborn, but refuses to remove his mask until being proven herself a loyal follower, and dispatches Monster and Menace on a mission.[79] Goblin King battles and kills the original Hobgoblin, although it is revealed to be a butler acting under Roderick Kingsley's orders, with Kingsley is still in hiding abroad.[80]

Having staged a coup of New York after spreading his resources by exploiting Otto's reliance on technology, the Goblin King directly confronts Otto, angry that he was cheated out of the opportunity to defeat his enemy but offering Otto the chance to join him. Otto rejects the offer, but when he finds that he cannot win against Goblin King's resources, with his new allies having abandoned him, and with his faith in his own abilities gone, he sacrifices himself to restore the original Spider-Man's mind.[81] When Spider-Man arrives for the final confrontation, Goblin King quickly realizes that the original is back in control when he responds to his nemesis' taunts with his own trademark wisecracks. In the duel that follows, Spider-Man unmasks Goblin King and learns that he has undergone plastic surgery and is now acting as the CEO of Alchemax, intending to re-establish himself as businessman Mason Banks now that Norman Osborn has become too publically known as a supervillain. Spider-Man defeats and strips the villain of his powers with a serum devised by Otto, but manages to escape through Liz Allan's discreet aid. In hiding once again, he reflects that the various heroes will be unprepared for him when he returns with his new identity and approach as a businessman, no longer afflicted with the mental illness associated with the Green Goblin formula.[82]

During the Secret Wars storyline, Norman Osborn is among the villains that attend the Kingpin's viewing party of the incursion between Earth-616 and Earth-1610.[83]

Powers, abilities, and weaknesses

Norman Osborn was turned into the Green Goblin by a chemical solution he had devised based upon a formula originally conceived by Professor Mendel Stromm. The process granted Osborn superhuman agility, strength, speed, stamina, and dexterity.

In addition to these physical advantages, the serum also greatly enhanced Norman's already-above average intellect, making him a bona fide genius capable of making breakthroughs in advanced areas of genetics, robotics, engineering, physics and applied chemistry. The Goblin formula is also said to have driven Osborn insane; defects in his personality were strongly augmented by the serum, resulting in dangerous mood-swings and hallucinations.

Weapons of the Green Goblin

Weapons as the Iron Patriot

Norman Osborn as the Iron Patriot

During the events of the "Dark Reign" storyline, Osborn created the identity of the Iron Patriot (an amalgam of Iron Man and Captain America) to cement his standing as a hero. As the Iron Patriot, he utilized an outdated version of Iron Man's armor painted in Captain America's colors. The armor featured superhuman strength, enhanced durability, flight, magnetic impact blasts, heat seeking missiles, miniaturized lasers, flamethrowers, and a communications system housed in his helmet which allowed him to interface with any U.S.-controlled satellite or computer network. While the original Iron Man armor utilized repulsor technology, Osborn's design does not; Stark destroyed all but one repulsor, and stated that "Oz is too stupid" to make his own repulsor-based weapons system. The star shaped Uni Beam projector on his chest, because of its shape, also has a less powerful output than that of the original Iron Man model.[84]

Powers and weaknesses as the Super-Adaptoid

Following his time in prison, A.I.M scientists converted Osborn into a Super-Adaptoid, capable of absorbing the abilities of any mutant, mutate, alien, android or other such super powered being by touching them. In this form he possessed considerably increased strength and durability; where he was once approximately as strong as Spider-Man, he now possessed sufficient strength to overpower and throw Luke Cage a significant distance away from him.[85] He could also levitate, and he was able to defeat the Vision in an aerial conflict between the two.[86]

He is known to have absorbed the abilities of Luke Cage, Vision, Red Hulk and Protector, and it is suggested that he also absorbed the abilities of his current Dark Avengers. In his final form, his body grew to the Hulk's size, and like Hulk he was capable of creating shockwaves by hitting the ground or smashing his hands together. His durability was sufficient to withstand the combined attacks of all the Avengers, and he demonstrated remarkable healing abilities, recovering in seconds after Daisy Johnson used her powers to make his heart explode. He could also turn intangible by manipulating his density, as the Vision does.

However, Osborn had no control over his Super-Adaptoid abilities; he would automatically absorb the powers of any superhuman he touched, even if he did not consciously want to. He was also limited in how many powers his body could hold, as the A.I.M. scientists warned him that absorbing too many powers at once could overload his systems. In the end, he inadvertently absorbed the abilities of all the Avengers and New Avengers when they all touched him at once, and the unstable combination of their multiple different powers caused significant damage to his body chemistry, resulting in him becoming comatose.[87]

Mental illness and other weaknesses

Norman Osborn has consistently been depicted with several unusual weaknesses related to his psychosis and to his personality. He suffers from manic depression, has a pronounced narcissistic personality disorder co-morbid with severe anti-social psychopathic traits,[88] and in some depictions, a multiple-personality disorder. For some of his early appearances he and the Goblin were separate personalities; his Goblin side disdaining his human weaknesses, while his Norman Osborn persona was primarily motivated by his concern for Harry.[33] Although his anger over his son's failing health as 'Norman' helped to provoke his transformation back into the Goblin,[89] this supposedly separate and more compassionate side of him never reappeared after he was believed dead. Norman is also highly sadistic, showing a complete lack of empathy for the lives of innocent people who stand between him and his objectives. These weaknesses have often been referenced in stories featuring him and exploited by his enemies.

Norman Osborn is shown to be severely manic depressive.[88] This has been referenced several times in a myriad of Spider-Man stories. When he is not under the direction of a psychiatrist and taking medication, he has dangerous mood swings. At the apex of his mania, he is paranoid, delusional, and suffers from visual and auditory hallucinations, including hearing the voice of his Green Goblin persona and seeing its face in the mirror rather than his own. Previously, Osborn's arrogance caused him to refuse to submit to psychiatric treatment unless forced to; he viewed mental illness as an imperfection and therefore would not admit that he is mentally ill. In later conversations with the Sentry, Osborn revealed that he had come to accept his own mental illness.

Superhuman psychologist Leonard Samson says of Osborn: "In clinical terms, the words psychotic and psychopathic are far from synonymous... but in Norman Osborn's case, both apply. I'd characterise him as a bipolar psychotic with concurrent aspects of psychopathic megalomania and malignant narcissism. In layman's terms, a lethal cocktail of intersecting personality disorders that makes him one of the most dangerous human beings on the planet."[90]

There are many examples of Osborn's pronounced superiority complex, to the point that he will rarely, if ever, admit that he has made mistakes, transferring blame for his shortcomings to others or claiming that he was better than he was; even before his accident, he spent more time providing Harry with gifts or outings rather than actually being there for his son or trying to listen to his problems, and nevertheless claims that he was still a good father. Having become the Goblin, he generally views other people as dim-witted pests, lacking in creative vision, unworthy to be graced by his presence. He goes out of his way to remind others of their personal failures and shortcomings and to remind those in close relationships with him, such as his son, that they are incapable of measuring up to his achievements. When he first learned Spider-Man's identity, he claimed that when Spider-Man had defeated him in their previous battles, none of those victories counted because Spider-Man had only beaten his lackeys or been rescued by the intervention of other super powered beings such as the Human Torch, despite the fact that he always departed the battles after Spider-Man's victories rather than trying to defeat his foe himself.[91] He also missed the opportunity to lead the original Sinister Six because he felt that joining the group would mean admitting he needed the help of others to rid himself of Spider-Man.[92] Although he later formed the 'Sinister Twelve' when Spider-Man sent him to prison, he expressed anger at Mac Gargan for acquiring the Venom symbiote rather than using the new Scorpion suit provided for him simply because Gargan was not doing what he wanted despite Venom being more powerful than the Scorpion.[93] When he participated in the mystical ritual known as the Gathering of Five, he appeared convinced that he would automatically receive the gift of power from the ritual – which would bestow upon the participants power, immortality, knowledge, madness and death, respectively – only to receive the gift of madness instead,[94] subsequently requiring an elaborate cocktail of drugs to restore himself to a semblance of sanity. During his time in charge of H.A.M.M.E.R. he was provoked into attacking Asgard by his Goblin side because his ego couldn't allow himself to consider the possibility that the Asgardians wouldn't threaten his power.[95] Later events revealed that Loki at least slightly influenced Osborn's decision to further Loki's own goals.[96] During his attempted takeover of Earth's superhuman security defenses, he was shown reflecting that humans are all barbarians who require the strong like him to control them, dismissing the Avengers as no better than him despite the obvious distinction between Osborn's demands for power and the straightforward respect that the general public have for the Avengers.[volume & issue needed]

It has been shown that since having suppressed the rampaging Green Goblin personality and becoming the more dominant personality, Osborn has proven to be just as (if not more) evil and cruel. Osborn has demonstrated a high degree of sadism. While he was in prison, a guard once asked him for his advice in helping his critically ill wife; Osborn's advice led her to a quicker and more agonizing death. As director of the Avengers, he allowed Bullseye to continue to function as an Avenger, even after Bullseye allowed over thirty innocent bystanders to be killed during a skirmish with a supervillain.[97] As director of H.A.M.M.E.R., he directed his officers to shoot down an airplane full of innocent people just to see whether his enemy Pepper Potts was powerful enough to rescue the passengers with her Rescue armor.[98] Because these actions threatened the hero persona he had carefully crafted some in the media began to see him for what he really was, and many of his highly credible former enemies spoke out against him. His Goblin persona vied for control of his body, as depicted in the January 2010 issue of Dark Avengers, where he is shown writhing on the floor and imploring, apparently to himself, "Why won't this face come off...?", and finally took over when Osborn's Iron Patriot armor was defeated by Captain America and Iron Man at the end of the "Siege" arc.[99]

Other versions

This article describes the Norman Osborn of Earth-616, which is considered the primary version of the Marvel Universe. However, there exists parallel Norman Osborns in alternative timelines and dimensions. In most of them, he still embodies the role of a ruthless antagonist and foil for his respective alternate Spider-Man.

In other media

Norman Osborn has appeared in many Spider-Man related media albeit usually appears as Green Goblin but occasionally appears within other Marvel media separately.


  1. ^ X-Men vol. 2, #73
  2. ^ "The ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN writer talks about Spidey's new Amazing Friends and lays the Osborns to rest once and for all | News". Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  3. ^ "Love is in the air as's Secret Cabal picks the greatest Marvel romances of all in time for Valentine's Day | News". Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  4. ^ "Top Ten Comic Book Archenemies – Superhero and Villain Arch-rivals". 2009-11-02. Retrieved 2010-04-27. 
  5. ^ Norman Osborn is number 13 IGN.
  6. ^ a b Murray, Will (July 2002). "Spider Time". Starlog and Comics Scene present Spider-Man and other Comics Heroes 
  7. ^ See (among others): Ro, Ronin. Tales to Astonish: Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and the American Comic Book Revolution, p. 107 (Bloomsbury, 2004)
  8. ^ Comics Creators on Spider-Man, pg 29–30, Tom Defalco. (Titan Books, 2004)
  9. ^ DeFalco, Tom (2004). Comics Creators on Spider-Man. Titan Books. ISBN 1-84023-422-9. 
  10. ^ Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed 174, Comics Should be Good Comic Book Resources, September 25, 2008
  11. ^ Goletz, Andrew (5 March 2008). "Life of Reilly, Part 23". 
  12. ^ Ellis Gets Thunderstruck: Brevoort talks "Thunderbolts", Comic Book Resources, October 6, 2006
  13. ^ Better Know a Thunderbolt: Green Goblin, Newsarama, December 21, 2006
  14. ^ Updated – Confirmed: Ellis & Deodata On Thunderbolts, Newsarama, June 10, 2006
  15. ^ NUTS AND T-BOLTS: Lazer talks "Thunderbolts", Comic Book Resources, June 22, 2007
  16. ^ Christos Gage: Taking The Thunderbolts Through The Invasion, Newsarama, March 25, 2008
  17. ^ Monsters and Marvels: Gage Talks “Thunderbolts”, Comic Book Resources, April 25, 2008
  18. ^ Secret Invasion #8
  19. ^ Brian Bendis – Wrapping it All Up & Starting Dark Reign, Newsarama, December 5, 2008
  20. ^ THE OSBORN SUPREMACY: Dark Avengers, Comic Book Resources, January 22, 2008
  21. ^ SDCC '08 – Writer Andy Diggle Takes on the T-Bolts, Newsarama, July 26, 2008
  22. ^ THE OSBORN SUPREMACY: Thunderbolts, Comic Book Resources, January 9, 2009
  23. ^ Andy Diggle: The Future of the Thunderbolts, Newsarama, December 17, 2008
  24. ^ CCI: Diggle and Rosemann Talk "Thunderbolts", Comic Book Resources, July 27, 2008
  25. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual 14.
  26. ^ Spider-Man: Revenge of the Green Goblin #1
  27. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #40
  28. ^ Untold Tales of Spider-Man #8
  29. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #14, #17, #23, #26–27
  30. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #37
  31. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #39–40
  32. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man #2 (1969)
  33. ^ a b The Amazing Spider-Man #96-98
  34. ^ Saffel, p. 65, states, "In the battle that followed atop the Brooklyn Bridge (or was it the George Washington Bridge?)...." On page 66, Saffel reprints the panel of The Amazing Spider-Man #121, page 18, in which Spider-Man exclaims, "The George Washington Bridge! It figures Osborn would pick something named after his favorite president. He's got the same sort of hangup for dollar bills!" Saffel states, "The span the GW's more famous cousin, the Brooklyn Bridge. ... To address the contradiction in future reprints of the tale, though, Spider-Man's dialogue was altered so that he's referring to the Brooklyn Bridge. But the original snafu remains as one of the more visible errors in the history of comics."
  35. ^ Sanderson, Marvel Universe, p. 84, notes, "[W]hile the script described the site of Gwen's demise as the George Washington Bridge, the art depicted the Brooklyn Bridge, and there is still no agreement as to where it actually took place."
  36. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122 (June 1973 - July 1973)
  37. ^ a b Spider-Man: The Osborn Journals (1996)
  38. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #400 (1995) and The "Final Chapter" storyline in; Sensational Spider-Man #32–33, Amazing Spider-Man #440–441, Spider-Man #97–98 and Spectacular Spider-Man #262–263 (1998).
  39. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol.1 #200 (1993), Amazing Spider-Man #581-582 (2008)
  40. ^ Goletz, Andrew, and Glenn Greenberg.""Life of Reilly", 35-part series, GreyHaven Magazine, 2003, n.d.". Archived from the original on 1996-01-01. 
  41. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol.1 #226 (1995)
  42. ^ Peter Parker: Spider-Man #75 (1996)
  43. ^ Spider-Man: Legacy of Evil Vol 1 #1 June 1996
  44. ^ Spectacular Spider-Man #250 (1997)
  45. ^ The Sensational Spider-Man #25 'Spider-Hunt' Part 1 (1998)
  46. ^ The Spectacular Spider-Man Vol.1 #255 'Spider-Hunt' Part 4 (1998)
  47. ^ Spectacular Spider-Man #259-263 (1998)
  48. ^ The "Final Chapter" storyline in; Sensational Spider-Man #32–33, Amazing Spider-Man #440–441, Spider-Man #97–98 and Spectacular Spider-Man #262–263 (1998).
  49. ^ Spider-Man: Revenge of the Green Goblin #1–3, Amazing Spider-Man #466, Peter Parker: Spider-Man vol. 2, #25 (2000)
  50. ^ Peter Parker: Spider-Man vol. 2, #44–47 (2002)
  51. ^ The Pulse #1–5
  52. ^ Marvel Knights Spider-Man #1–12 (2004-2005)
  53. ^ Civil War Front Line #2 (2007)
  54. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #509-514 (August 2004 - January 2005)
  55. ^ Thunderbolts Vol.1 #110-115 'Faith in Monsters' (2006-2007)
  56. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #568-#573 (2008)
  57. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #445 (2007), The Amazing Spider-Man #569 (2008)
  58. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #573 (2008)
  59. ^ a b Secret Invasion #8
  60. ^ Brian Michael Bendis (w), Mike Deodato (p), Mike Deodato (i). "Secret Invasion: Dark Reign" Dark Avengers 1 (Jan. 2009), Marvel Comics
  61. ^ Brian Michael Bendis (w), Alex Maleev (p), Dean White (i). "Secret Invasion: Dark Reign" Secret Invasion: Dark Reign 1 (Dec. 2008), Marvel Comics
  62. ^ Dark X-Men: The Beginning #3
  63. ^ Invincible Iron Man #19
  64. ^ New Avengers #60
  65. ^ Bendis, Brian Michael. Siege #1-4
  66. ^ Dark Avengers #16
  67. ^ Osborn #1-#5
  68. ^ New Avengers vol. 2 #16.1
  69. ^ New Avengers vol. 2 #18
  70. ^ New Avengers vol. 2 #20-24, Avengers vol.4 #22
  71. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #697 (2012)
  72. ^ The Superior Spider-Man #4
  73. ^ The Superior Spider-Man #10
  74. ^ The Superior Spider-Man #14
  75. ^ The Superior Spider-Man #16
  76. ^ The Superior Spider-Man #17
  77. ^ The Superior Spider-Man #18
  78. ^ The Superior Spider-Man #21
  79. ^ The Superior Spider-Man #25
  80. ^ The Superior Spider-Man #26
  81. ^ The Superior Spider-Man #30
  82. ^ The Superior Spider-Man #31
  83. ^ Secret Wars #1
  84. ^ Dark Reign: The List-Spider-Man #1
  85. ^ Avengers vol.4 #18
  86. ^ Avengers vol.4 #20
  87. ^ Avengers vol.4 #23
  88. ^ a b Thunderbolts #113
  89. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man #121
  90. ^ Thunderbolts#128
  91. ^ Amazing Spider-Man #40
  92. ^ The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1
  93. ^ Marvel Knights: Spider-Man#11
  94. ^ Spider-Man #98
  95. ^ Siege: The Cabal #1
  96. ^ Siege#4
  97. ^ Dark Reign: Hawkeye #1
  98. ^ Invincible Iron-Man #11–12
  99. ^ Bendis, Brian Michael. Siege #3

External links

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