The Green Goblin


The Green Goblin, the main antagonist of the 2002 Spider-Man, is the alter ego of Norman Osborn, a leading scientist specializing in cybernetics engineering. He is then assigned the task of creating an extraordinary serum for the U.S. army to create the ultimate “super-soldier” after his business, OsCorp, is threatened with loss of funding due to lack of business. Without enough time to do proper human trials, Osborn tests the serum on himself, gaining extremely enhanced strength, stamina and reflexes but is, however, driven insane. He soon gives in to his villainous side, wielding pumpkin-shaped grenades of varying effect and wearing a green and purple outfit with a grotesque Goblin-faced mask, covered in plated armor and circuitry.

 A recurring theme in the section of mad science is a scientist’s quest to create something so supernatural and powerful in order to prove that perfection can be attained, but not without scientific assistance. The product of his experimentation, however, usually goes awry and becomes a monster that makes society its prey. The scientist, thinking he would become a hero among great populations, actually proves himself to be the true villain after all. The Green Goblin is a clear manifestation of Osborne’s extreme desire to gain power and fortune that would ultimately stem from his scientific discovery, a theme constantly present in mad science. But instead of working with the U.S. military to produce a serum through his genuine love of science and engineering, he is overtaken by greed and desire to rule the world and is not able to see the “ethical problems associated with this genetic engineering”(Kirby, 193) of himself, which completely defies nature and seeks to create something that is not meant to be. This same desire is seen in The Fly through Brundle, who is so determined to create a product that no one has ever seen before that he is blind to its harmful effects. Osborne, trying to live with two opposite personalities as a result of his experimentation, is too weak to control his villainous nature and transforms out of the sight of others because his monstrous self is something that is simply unconceivable for society, completely going against the norm. The Green Goblin, although a being of monstrosity, is the victim of “civilization and its split-level discontents.” (Skal, 18) He is not only the product of Osborne’s usual experimentation, but is created for the sole purpose of transforming a normal man into something that is out of this world due to potential in the increase of technological advancement. The Green Goblin’s suit is even a form of machinery that uses technology, a clear representation of society’s unhealthy desire to make the world completely computer-driven. 


1. Pansegrau, Petra. “12 Stereotypes and Images of Scientists in Fiction Films.” Science images and popular images of the sciences 8 (2008): 257-262.

2. Skal, David J. Screams of reason: Mad science and modern culture. WW Norton, 1998: 18-19

3. Kirby, David A. “The New Eugenics in Cinema: Genetic Determinism and Gene Therapy in” GATTACA“.” Science Fiction Studies (2000): 193-215.

4. Weingart, Peter, and Petra Pansegrau. “Introduction: perception and representation of science in literature and fiction film.” Public Understanding of Science 12.3 (2003): 227-228.


2 responses to “The Green Goblin

  1. I enjoyed reading your post and found it interesting how you note a main monstrous theme within mad science stems from a threat to society. I chose the laboratory in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as my monster, which shares some similar themes with mad science. One of the sources I read emphasizes that a key difference between the gothic and the science fiction is that in the gothic story the central threat is to the individual or an inward journey, whereas in science fiction the scientist seeks to create something that will arouse wonder but ends up endangering the world.

  2. I find this mad scientist-monster hybrid fascinating. I think that the point you make about the Green Goblin experimenting with the technology on himself is particularly interesting, and it connects to some of the other monsters in this section and that we have learned about in class (the fly, Rotwang, etc.). I also think that what you point out about the scientist’s intentions initially being good and then being corrupted represents a recurring theme in the mad science genre as it was a recurring argument that I found in my research.

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