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Sinister Six - the comic book history of Sony's possible Spider-team

image of the Sinister Six
(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The Sinister Six have a well-deserved reputation as some of the deadliest villains to ever face Spider-Man, comprised of six of his most enduring foes in its classic incarnation. The recent blockbuster film Spider-Man: No Way Home stopped just short of assembling the Sinister Six in the MCU with a team of five major villains coming together, including several of the classic members of the team.

Now the ball seems to be back in Sony’s court, as the now-in-theaters film Morbius brings in a surprise cameo from another Spidey villain with the implication of a future team up with other Sony-Spider characters, perhaps leading to a version of the Sinister Six, which the studio has been attempting to bring together for years. 

still from Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

With a legacy all their own that goes far beyond menacing Spider-Man and into the wider Marvel Universe, the Sinister Six are some of the most iconic villains in Marvel Comics. 

But who are the villains who may come together for Sony’s Sinister Six? And how do they relate to the long, storied comic book history of the team? We’ll get into it all right now.

Who are the Sinister Six?

image of the Sinister Six

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The Sinister Six first appeared in 1964's Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (opens in new tab), in which Doctor Octopus, then considered Spider-Man's main arch-enemy, breaks out of prison and sends a distress call to everyone who had fought Spidey up until that point, with five villains - Electro, Sandman, Mysterio, Vulture, and Kraven - heeding the call. 

The six villains decide to take turns laying traps for Spider-Man, forming a gauntlet of threats they're sure will defeat the Wall-Crawler. But in true Spidey fashion, he takes them all down one by one.

Since that first fateful tale, the Sinister Six have come together numerous times over the years, usually under the leadership of Doctor Octopus, though there have been other iterations led by villains such as Hobgoblin, the Beetle, Swarm, and Miles Morales' uncle Aaron Davis when he was operating as Iron Spider. 

For a team of villains who have often butted heads, the Sinister Six maintained a remarkably solid line-up through their early days, making only one major change by inducting the Hobgoblin following the death of Kraven in the story Kraven's Last Hunt (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)
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In the 'Big Time (opens in new tab)' era, during which Spider-Man was an active member of the Avengers, Doc Ock assembled a new Sinister Six consisting of a roster of Chameleon, Rhino, Electro, Sandman, and Mysterio. 

This team went on to pose one of the greatest threats the collective Sinister Six have ever put forth against the Marvel Universe in the story 'Ends of the Earth (opens in new tab)', in which Doc Ock threatens to superheat the Earth with special atmosphere altering devices, killing billions if his demands aren't met, elevating the Six to Avengers-level foes as Spidey enlists his own team to take them on.

The Sinister Six has also had its share of spin-off teams, usually consisting of rival collectives of Spider-Man villains, or even expanded versions of the classic team. There's the Sinister Seven, the Sinister Twelve, the ever-fluctuating Sinister Syndicate, the Superior Spider-Man-led Superior Six, the interdimensional Sinister Sixty-Six, the animalistic Savage Six, and that's just scratching the surface.

In the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man #900, the Sinister Six will get a whole new twist with the creation of the Sinister Adaptoid, an android supervillain with all the powers and weapons of the original members of the Sinister Six.

The Sinister Six in the MCU

still from Spider-Man: No Way Home trailer

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

Spider-Man: No Way Home presented a team of five Spider-Man villains that's about as close to the Sinister Six as we've actually gotten on the big screen so far - even though they didn't use the name, and they were one member short of a half-dozen anyway.

But it's looking like Sony may be working on assembling their own proprietary Sinister Six, and the first real seeds for the team seem to be planted in the post-credits stinger scene from Morbius.

Light spoilers for that movie ahead, by the way, so be warned.

In the Morbius stinger scene, Michael Keaton's Vulture/Adrian Toomes appears alongside Morbius, having apparently made his way to the Sony-verse side of the equation from the MCU thanks to Doctor Strange's Multiverse spells from No Way Home. 

The pair discuss a team-up with other heroes and villains to "do some good," seemingly setting the stage for the Sinister Six to enter the Sony-Spider-Verse, but perhaps this time with a more anti-hero rather than straight-up supervillain slant. 

And if that seems like a possible stretch, even Morbius director Daniel Espinoza is supportive of the idea, hinting at what may be on the horizon:

"In Marvel, it always has existed, this great fascination of creating groups, and new friendships that can oppose other friendships," Espinoza tells Total Film. "And I think that all us Marvel fans would die to see the Sony-verse people together."

That leaves the question of who those "Sony-verse people" might be, aside from the aforementioned Morbius and Vulture. Though it's too soon to say, there are some safe bets. Sony has movies already in the works for Madame Web, Black Cat, and of course Kraven the Hunter

And then of course there's Venom, who has a pair of films out already, and who has even had a minor jaunt into the MCU with a cameo in Spider-Man: No Way Home.

And since the Multiverse has opened all doors, Doctor Octopus was cured of the corruptive influence of the malfunctioning AI of his artificial limbs and made a hero turn in No Way Home. 

Alfred Molina's Doc Ock is a fan-favorite Marvel big-screen character and can't be overlooked in a possible teaming of Spidey-centric anti-heroes and ex-villains, particularly given the character's traditional role with the team. 

Sandman, Electro, and the Lizard can't be taken off the table either given the events of No Way Home. And who knows, maybe there is a less sociopathic Mysterio out in the Multiverse if Jake Gyllenhaal would be up for a return. 

Though, as we've seen, Sony's superhero movie plans are often subject to change, that's a big enough slate to assemble a Sinister Six, even if it doesn't quite resemble the classic comic book team.

Two of the traditional members of the Sinister Six are among the 10 best Marvel supervillains of all time.

I've been Newsarama's resident Marvel Comics expert and general comic book historian since 2011. I've also been the on-site reporter at most major comic conventions such as Comic-Con International: San Diego, New York Comic Con, and C2E2. Outside of comic journalism, I am the artist of many weird pictures, and the guitarist of many heavy riffs. (They/Them)