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He is the founder and CEO of Oscorp and the father of Peter Parker's best friend Harry. After being exposed to the Goblin Serum, he develops a split personality that drives him to become a supervillain bent on securing his company and more power, becoming focused on destroying Spider-Man and everything he cares about. He is Spider-Man's archenemy and his one foe who keeps haunting him even after death.
Norman Osborn was the wealthy owner of Oscorp. He was first seen driving his son Harry to the spider genetics lab in the family limo (much to Harry's embarrassment who would much rather arrive by bus like all of the other students). He was initially pleasant and supporting of Peter Parker's friendship and scientific potential, and also wanted his own son to recognize his own potential. Unfortunately, Norman's company began to struggle, with Osborn's promised performance-enhancing serum for a military contract having been hit with several setbacks, not the least of which being that rodents that it had been tested on have displayed violence, aggression, and insanity. Upon being told that his funding would be cut if a successful human trial was not performed within two weeks time, Norman became desperate and ultimately tested the serum on himself. The process drove him insane and he promptly murdered his own assistant, Dr. Mendell Stromm. Norman woke up afterwards in his home, amnesiac, and sick. He had no idea what happened because of the side effects of the serum altering his mind, reacting in shock when he was informed that of Stromm's murder and the theft of the Oscorp glider and suit.
Becoming Green Goblin
Later, Quest Aerospace, another company that competed for the military contract, suffered a bombing attack, that was unknowingly caused by Osborn using some of his own inventions. Following the attack, Osborn learned that Quest had decided to use the wake of the incident to capitalize and expand, making a deal with his Board of Directors with the intent of buying Oscorp, and the Board members now expected Norman's resignation within the next 30 days. Enraged at being forced out of his own company, Osborn again became the Green Goblin and murdered the board members, and also first encountered Spider-Man, whom he became intrigued by. Waking up the next morning, Osborn at last realized what he was doing, but he succumbed to the influence of his malevolent and sadistic other half. Attacking Spider-Man, he tried to convince him to join his cause, but he was later rejected.
Later the Goblin sets an apartment building on fire to get Spider-Man's attention, asking if he will he join him but Spider-Man declines and they fight. They are equally matched but the Goblin gains a slight advantage over Peter since he cuts his arm but Peter uses his web to throw the Goblin and escaping him since he was too strong.
As time passes, Norman began to lose himself more and more to the Green Goblin half inside him, after contemplating on how to gain the strength to take the web head down Harry reveals that Peter is in love with Mary Jane. With this information the Goblin was able to piece it together by remembering Peter's cut on the wrist which both relates to Spider-Man, Norman then negotiates with his inner self and Goblin States the best way to stop the hero is to attack his heart. Goblin attacked and threatened May Parker to spite Spider-Man, and also let him know that he was aware of his secret identity. The two's feud came to a head when the Green Goblin abducted Mary Jane and threatened to kill her, and forced Spider-Man to choose between her or a sky-cab full of innocent civilians, including children. Spider-Man, however, was able to save both the sky-cab and Mary Jane, and who was assisted by civilians who attacked Green Goblin and condemned him for his threatening children's lives.
Final battle and Death
Enraged, Green Goblin took Spider-Man using a well aimed cable toss to drag him to an abandoned greenhouse where their battle resumed. Goblin threw a pumpkin bomb which destroyed Spider-Man's mask, damaging his costume and injured him. Goblin then states out of pity "misery, misery, misery, that's what you chosen" meaning that Spider-Man brought this on himself and betrayed Goblin's offer of friendship. Rather than fight him with gadgets or other weapons, Goblin wants to give Peter a more brutal beating with his strength than weapons. Goblin savagely beats Spider-Man which made Goblin gain the upper hand. As much as Spider-Man tried to fight back, he couldn't due to his injuries although he tried use his web to stop him but with the Goblin's strength he rips it.
Spider-Man is knocked down. Just as Goblin was about to win and defeat and kill Spider-Man, he had got a trident to kill Spider-Man and vowed to make Mary Jane suffer as punishment for Spider-Man's "really pissing him off". However, that threat only succeeded in invigorating Spider-Man, making him very enraged who managed to subdue the Goblin and overpower him back in a fit of rage. As Spider-Man punches him a few times, until the Goblin realizes he's had enough, then he finally unmasked himself as Norman Osborn, who begged for forgiveness from a horrified Spider-Man by saying 'be a son to me now' that he loved him like his own son. Unfortunately, the Green Goblin's hold on Norman was strong enough for Norman to attempt to skewer Spider-Man from behind with his glider.
Alerted to it by his Spider-Sense, Spider-Man moved out of the way and Norman was impaled by his own glider. In his final moments, Norman begged Peter not to tell Harry about his crimes before succumbing to his wounds and dying.
Listen to me! I didn't kill your father! He was trying to kill me! He killed himself!
~ Peter confronting a vengeful Harry, trying to make him understand that he didn't kill Norman.
Out of pity, Spider-Man took Norman's corpse back to the Osborn Mansion and left, but not before Harry spotted him with his father's body. At Norman’s funeral, Harry vowed to exact revenge on Spider-Man, believed him responsible for killing his father, and asserted that Peter was all that he had left.
Though deceased, the malevolent half of Norman Osborn would live on as a figment of Harry Osborn's imagination, which goaded him to continue his father's legacy and seek vengeance on Spider-Man despite his attempts at resisting his influence. In Spider-Man 2, Harry became Head of the Research Department and funded Dr. Otto Octavius's project, which went horribly wrong and became Doc Ock. Harry then teamed up with him and soon learned about Spider-Man' true identity before developing a feud against him, as well as finding the goblin suit and weapons thus learning his father's identity. However, in Spider-Man 3, Harry learned about the true circumstances behind his father's death from his butler, so he abandoned his vendetta against Spider-Man, even helping him in saving Mary Jane from Venom and Sandman. Harry, ended up dying in the same method his father did except he ended up giving up his life to save Peter's. Before he death, he made peace with both Peter and Mary Jane who forgave him for his crimes and treatment of them even before he became the New Goblin.
Powers and Abilities
Green Goblin is smart and strong able to use his intelligence to have Spider-Man choose who to save which made Spider-Man in a conflict. The Goblin also has his glider for flight. He has bladed sharp weapons. Green Goblin has superhuman strength that is on par with Spider-Man cable of brutally beating Spider-Man with kicks, uppercuts, and punches during the final battle without getting so much as a scratch from Spider-Man. He also took down several cops down at once. He also has enhanced speed, which let him catch Spider-Man's punch, and then land a devastating kick on him that sent the wall crawler flying. Able to identify Spider-Man's true identity. Green Goblin uses pumpkin bombs also as a weapon and razor bats which did manage to cut Spider-Man also sleeping gas as well.
His final weapon is his glider which he uses for transportation and rarely only used it twice mostly the Goblin would mostly fight Spider-Man in hand to hand rather than air. Some of Goblin's abilities is also agility possibly just as much as Spider-Man as he's able to flip towards him during the final battle. Goblin didn't have any major injuries during battles with Spider-Man that got a bomb blasted in his face but when Spider-Man pulls the wall down, Goblin is still super durable enough to still be able to climb out of it although badly hurt. It took getting impaled by his own glider, combined with his other wounds, for him to pass away.
The Goblin has a shiny metal green suit that's pressed and manufactured were it fits the mask and glider and the person wearing it. The mask is a goblin mask with yellow eyes and an opening for his mouth. On his left leg is a button which slides the eyes of the mask up for Goblin to see. On his right arm is also a button for the glider to come. He has metal green layer on his arms and chest without weighing him with heavier armor. On his wrists are button's as well for the sleeping gas he used against Spider-Man. As for his abdomen, back, and legs which instead of mostly green armor it is smooth out where the wearer can move easily and not restricted.
Henry Balkan † - Former Board Member turned Enemy and Victim
Maximilian "Max" Fargas † - Former Board Member turned Enemy and Victim
General Slocum † - Former Board Member turned Enemy and Victim
Dr. Mendel Stromm † - Former Employee turned Victim
You know, I'm something of a scientist myself!
~ Norman Osborn/Green Goblin's most famous quote.
Back to formula?
~ Goblin's first words before killing Stromm.
OUT, AM I!?
~ Green Goblin to the Oscorp Board members before killing them.
Hello, my dear!
~ Green Goblin to Mary Jane.
~ Goblin pretending to surrender before taking out the cops.
~ Goblin complimenting Spider-Man's fighting before punching him.
We'll meet again, Spider-Man!
~ Green Goblin after his first defeat at Spider-Man's hands..
I chose my path, you chose the way of the hero. And they found you amusing for a while, the people of this city. But the one thing they love more than a hero, is to see a hero fail, fall, die trying. In spite of everything you've done for them, eventually they will hate you. Why bother? (...) Here's the real truth: there are eight million people in this city, and the teeming masses exist for the sole purpose, of lifting the few exceptional people onto their shoulders. You, me, we're exceptional. I could squash you like a bug right now... but I'm offering you a choice. Join me! Imagine what we could accomplish together... what we could create! Or we could destroy! Causing the deaths of countless innocents with our selfish battles again and again and again until we're both dead! Is that what you want? Think about it, Hero!
~ The Green Goblin to Spider-Man.
You're pathetically predictable, like a moth to the flame! What about my generous proposal? Are you in or are you out?
~ Green Goblin to Spider-Man about the choice of joining him or not.
~ The Green Goblin.
No one says no to me!
~ Green Goblin.
Finish it! FINISH IT!
~ Green Goblin telling Aunt May to finish her prayer as he attacks her in her own home.
Can Spider-Man come out to play?
~ Norman as The Green Goblin to Peter over the phone.
It's time to die!
~ Green Goblin attempts to kill Spider-Man.
Spider-Man! This is why only fools are heroes — because you never know when some lunatic will come along with a sadistic choice. Let die the woman you love… or suffer the little children! Make your choice, Spider-Man, and see how a hero is rewarded! We are who we choose to be…now, CHOOSE!
~ Goblin holding Mary Jane and a tram full of innocent children hostage forcing Spider-Man to decide whom to save first.
Misery, misery, misery. That's what you've chosen. I offered you friendship, and you spat in my face!
~ Green Goblin as he attacks and beats Spider-Man.
You've spun your last web, Spider-Man. Had you not been so selfish, your little girlfriend's death would have been quick and painless. But now that you really pissed me off, I'm gonna finish her nice and slow. MJ and I, we're gonna have a hell of a time!
~ Green Goblin to Spider-Man.
~ Green Goblin right before he's killed by his own glider and also his last words before reverting back to Norman.
Peter,… don't tell Harry.
~ Norman Osborn's last words before his demise.
Norman: Son... Harry: Dad? I thought you were... Norman: No. I'm alive in you, Harry. You swore to make Spider-Man pay... now make him pay. Harry: But Pete's my best friend! Norman: And I'm your father. You're weak. You were always weak and you will always be weak until you take control! Now you know the truth about Peter. Be strong Harry. Avenge me. Harry: No... Norman: AVENGE ME!
~ Norman to Harry in Harry's vision.
Dafoe's performance as the Green Goblin was widely praised and is considered to be one of the greatest superhero movie villains.
Vulture ranked the Green Goblin 19th on the top 25 superhero film villains in 2018, while Collider ranked him the 5th greatest Spider-Man film villain in 2020. Steven Scaife of Vice wrote that "Dafoe's Goblin represents everything that’s fun about superhero villains, as well as everything that’s great about Raimi's campy films." He also commended Dafoe's voice and body language, which helped overcome the bulky Green Goblin costume that he compared to that of a Power Rangers villain. Looking back at the Sam Raimi trilogy, Tom Holland, who portrays Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in addition to his co-star Jacob Batalon, praised Dafoe's performance in the trilogy, calling the Green Goblin a "landmark villain". The two actors praised Dafoe's ability to "bring a difficult character to life" and particularly the mirror scene where he portrays both Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin persona.
David Germain of Peninsula Clarion stated "Dafoe's best moments come in schizoid debates between the tremulous Osborn and his snarling alter-ego, his internal struggle eliciting occasional compassion among viewers."
Tulsa World stated "Willem Dafoe shoots the moon as Norman Osborn, an unhinged scientist who becomes a masked supervillain called the Green Goblin. Encased in gleaming armor and cackling maniacally as he zips around on a one-man jet glider, he provides some of the film's most dynamic images. However, the Goblin is only half as scary as Dafoe without the mask. In one memorable scene he debates the nature of his own evil with his reflection in a mirror, successfully taking more risks as an actor than Jack Nicholson in Batman or his own tour de force in Shadow of the Vampire. As much fun as Dafoe is to watch, it's in some of his scenes where the film nearly goes off the rails. At times the Goblin is almost too menacing for this otherwise good-hearted adventure."
Stylistically, there was heavy (though not universal), criticism of the Green Goblin's costume, which led IGN's Richard George to comment years later, "We're not saying the comic book costume is exactly thrilling, but the Goblin armor (the helmet in particular) from Spider-Man is almost comically bad... Not only is it not frightening, it prohibits expression."
William Dafoe won a New York Film Critics Online Award for Best Supporting Actor and was nominated for an MTV Movie Award for Best Villain.
During the final battle scene, it was supposed to be more brutal with more blood and the use of razor sharp weapons again and Spider-Man's beating was supposed to be more brutal, but they decided to tone it down to meet PG-13 rating.
Willem Dafoe portrayed Norman Osborn in each of the three films of the Raimi Spider-Man trilogy. Although his character was killed during the climax of the first film, Norman appeared in the other two films as a vision/hallucination to his son, Harry, thus, he liked to manipulate him and drive him into trying to killing Spider-Man.
Aside from appearing as a vision of Norman Osborn in Spider-Man 3, Dafoe appears in a cameo as a customer in a club that Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy go to.
Norman Osborn, a.k.a. the Green Goblin, also appeared as the main antagonist in the 2002 Video Game based on the film. In the game, his main scheme was to take Spider-Man's blood and inject it to himself, in order to improve himself, but in the film, his scheme was to defeat and kill Spider-Man, kill his loved ones and destroy the city with his equipment. In the game, unlike in the movie, he was also killed by his glider's blades, that hit him straight in his body, and not in his stomach, which left him to die alone while the glider flew away.
Norman's Goblin character model was also a playable character in the game, although it is actually his son Harry.
The Goblin didn't make an appearance in costume near the beginning of his respective film until the second half.
Willem Dafoe performed 90% of his own stunts.
The Green Goblin was chosen as the film's main villain since Sam Raimi felt the father-son theme (Norman and Harry Osborn and Peter Parker) would make the film deeper.
The Green Goblin's costume was originally designed to be more bulky and armored, but Willem Dafoe, having decided to film his own stunts, rejected it in favor of a more streamlined and athletic costume. The final outfit was composed of 580 pieces and took Dafoe half an hour to put on.
During the fight between the Green Goblin and Spider-Man near the end, Willem Dafoe accidentally clipped Tobey Maguire on the chin with one blow.
The smoke in the lab during Norman Osborn's transformation scene was originally white, but was then digitally altered to green. Director Sam Raimi wanted to use real green smoke, but went with the CG effect when prop designers could not create a colored smoke that was nontoxic.
Both Tobey Maguire and Willem Dafoe incorporated a Yoga technique called Ashtanga into their training regimens for this film. "Ashtanga" translates into English as "eight-legged", like a spider.
In the final battle between Spider-Man and the Goblin, the CGI artists had to change the color of the blood pouring from Spider-Man's mouth to a clear liquid, indicating spit. This was to ensure a 12/PG-13 rating.
Before Willem Dafoe received the role of the Green Goblin, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Jason Issacs, John Malkovich, Bill Paxton, John Travolta, Mel Gibson, Tommy Lee Jones and Robert De Niro were all offered for the role. The role was originally intended to be played by Billy Crudup, who even dropped out of other projects to act in this film, but he was considered too young to play the part of Norman Osborn and was declined the role. Many other actors, including De Niro and Travolta, turned down the role. Robert De Niro was also considered for Otto Octavius/Dr. Octopus, (another villain), in the sequel. The final actor in line to play Norman was Bill Paxton, but Sam Raimi was finally convinced that Dafoe was right for the part after a few meetings. Paxton's father still appears in the film as Osborn's elderly housekeeper.
Willem Dafoe's own face bears an uncanny resemblance to the original Green Goblin mask from the comics, designed almost 40 years before he was cast in the role.
Norman Osborn's home is decorated with masks from around the world. The filmmakers did this to suggest that Norman is a collector of masks, thus offering an explanation for how he was able to provide a mask for his Green Goblin outfit.
The film was supposed to feature Doctor Octopus and Green Goblin. However, Sam Raimi decided against using two villains, to focus on a more straight forward story. Doc Ock would later be used in the sequel.
The Green Goblin has around 19 minutes of screen-time.
Willem Dafoe was never an intended choice to play the Green Goblin. After the script fell into his possession, he began lobbying for the role and met with Sam Raimi, who had intended to cast Billy Crudup in the role. Sometime later, while filming a movie in Spain, Dafoe was approached and shot some test footage inside the hotel room he was staying. It led to his being cast. Once he received the role, Dafoe asked that he be allowed to perform his own stunts so that the character and movements would feel authentic, or else the audience would notice the difference. He performed about 95% of his own stunts, and unlike many of the stunt crew, learned how to handle the Goblin Glider after just 15 minutes. Having such a great time during filming, he offered to return for Spider-Man 2 (2004) and asked if they could write him in somewhere, his character having died in this movie. Sam Raimi took him up on the offer and both of them set aside a specific day of filming on Spider-Man 2 for Dafoe to shoot Norman Osborn's cameo in other characters' dreams and memories.
Willem Dafoe had to be fitted with prosthetic teeth when he took the role of Spider-Man. Producers didn't feel a person as rich as Norman Osborn couldn't afford to get his teeth straightened out. Willem Dafoe's real teeth can be seen in the scene where Norman Osborn is having a conversation with himself in the mirror.
He appears in the Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott "Hero" music video.