Captain America has the Red Skull, the X-Men have Magneto and the Fantastic Four have Doctor Doom. Spider-Man has his own iconic arch-nemesis too, but you won’t see him in Spider-Man: Homecoming. That’s right, there’s no Green Goblin in Spidey’s first movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There aren’t even references to Norman Osborn’s Oscorp in the film.
There’s an easy explanation for why the Green Goblin doesn’t appear in this movie. Sony already used him in the other Spider-Man franchises. The character was the central villain in 2002’s Spider-Man, with James Franco’s Harry Osborn appearing in all three Sam Raimi films. In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Dane DeHaan played Harry and eventually became the Green Goblin after he injected himself with spider-serum.
Marvel Studios, which took the creative lead on Homecoming for Sony, just decided that the Green Goblin had been used enough. So, they chose The Vulture (played by Michael Keaton) instead. The Vulture is also a legendary Spider-Man villain, having appeared in the comics before the Green Goblin.
As producer Eric Carroll explained to Collider, the MCU team just thought that the Vulture would fit perfectly into the MCU.
“We at Marvel start with a thing called a Discussion Document which is sort of like a mission statement, a 20-30 page document where we just go, ‘This is what we think it is, this is what we think it isn’t, this is what we think would be fun, here are some cool characters,’” Carroll explained to Collider. “And we laid them all out, we put all the ones who’ve been in the movies before, and Vulture just felt compatible with the MCU. When we sort of struck on the fun thematic thing of the Vulture being somebody who scavenges what the Avengers and their enemies leave behind we all just got excited about that.”
Carroll also said that Marvel took pitches from a series of writers, and the majority of them really wanted to use the Vulture. If someone had come up with great scenarios for Doctor Octopus (who was previously seen in Spider-Man 2) or Green Goblin, Marvel might have considered it.
Producer Amy Psacal told Screen Rant that they really wanted to bring some freshness to the movie, and the best way to do that was by not reusing villains right out of the gate..
“I think we have to try to be really fresh with it,” Pascal told Screen Rant. “I mean, I don’t know how many more times we can do – at least for now – I don’t know how many more times we can do the Green Goblin. I’ve certainly tried to do it fifty.”
In that interview, Pascal sounded open to the idea of bringing back the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus for future follow-ups to Homecoming. Considering how many times we’ve seen characters like The Joker and Lex Luthor reimagined in DC Comics movies, audiences can certainly handle seeing another Green Goblin, if done right.