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Doctor Octopus: Origin Story of Spider-Man’s “Superior” Enemy

Among Spider-Man‘s many iconic enemies, Doctor Octopus occupies a notable place–right after the infamous Green Goblin. Octopuses are not natural enemies to the spiders, so this is an exception. Introduced in 1963 in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man #3, this supervillain was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Doc Ock’s real name is Otto Octavius. He is a mad scientist who is highly intelligent, myopic, and in control of four mechanical arms that he built himself. Those arms were the original idea of Steve Ditko. He suggested it to Stan Lee who came up with the rest, the name and the origin story.

The Origins of Doctor Octopus

Otto Octavius was already called “Doctor Octopus” before becoming one of Spider-Man’s enemies. As a brilliant nuclear physicist, he invented a new kind of mechanical arms to help him work on radioactive material during his experiments. It was for his own protection, but when an explosion occurred, his tentacles got attached to his body and doctors didn’t know how to take them away without killing him.

Affected by the effects of the radiation during the accident, Otto Octavius has now gained the power to control his “arms” with his brain. They were a new part of him. One other consequence was that his inflated ego became out of control. With his new weapons, he wanted to take total control of the laboratory and did it by force. That’s when Spider-Man entered the story.

Doctor Octopus beat Spider-Man and, after that, felt that he truly was unstoppable. Of course, this didn’t last long as he was defeated by Spider-Man during their second confrontations. It wouldn’t be their last, of course. Doc Ock even formed the original Sinister Six, united other enemies of Spider-Man in order to get rid of him once and for all.

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #55

Doctor Octopus: Peter Parker’s Personal Enemy

Between Doctor Octopus and Peter Parker, things always seem to become personal. First, he was connected to the murder of the brother of Betty Brant, Peter’s girlfriend at the time, then he kidnapped Betty and Aunt May–and that was only the beginning of Otto’s relationship with her as they almost got married. He also famously played a part in the death of Captain Stacy. This continued to a point where the two kind of became one.

As Marv Wolfman explained in Spider-Man Chronicle: Celebrating 50 Years of Web-Slinging: “Doctor Octopus shared many traits with Peter Parker. They were both shy, both interested in science, and both had trouble relating to women. … Otto Octavius even looked like a grownup Peter Parker. Lee and Ditko intended Otto to be the man Peter might have become if he hadn’t been raised with a sense of responsibility.”

Superior Spider-Man’s Origin Story

The tense relationship between the two enemies lasted a long time and is still going strong today. Otto even developed an overwhelming phobia of Spider-Man at one time. But he eventually became the Spider-Man himself.

Also, he already died and came back like so many (with the help of the mystical ninja cult known as the Hand in his case), Doctor Octopus eventually paid the price of a career in crime. His body was letting him down. The diagnostic was fatal. But being a mad scientist, he devised plans to survive. He was stopped, of course, but he still had a card to play and successfully swapped his mind with Peter’s.

By taking over Spider-Man’s body, Doctor Octopus found what he needed to reinvent himself and prove once and for all that he was better in every way than his enemy. He became the Superior Spider-Man and did what he thought was necessary to become the ultimate superhero Peter was not capable of being.

Obviously, this didn’t last. In the Marvel Universe, almost everything goes back to the basics at one point or another, and Doc Ock went back to being the crazy criminal mastermind with the mechanical arms.

Interested in learning more about another one of Spider-Man’s enemies, check out our article about Kraven the Hunter.

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