Doctor Octopus: recapping Alfred Molina's best Spider-Man 2 scenes ahead of No Way Home

Spider-Man: No Way Home tickets are on sale in Cineworld, and we can't wait to welcome Tom Holland's wall-crawler back to the big screen. However, his thunder might be stolen by the return of a classic Spider-Man villain who originated outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU): Alfred Molina's multi-limbed Doctor Octopus.

The character was first imagined on the big screen in 2004's Spider-Man 2, an independent Sony production that was directed by Sam Raimi. Doc Ock made an immediate impact by amalgamating pathos and sheer terror in one package, emerging as a superior Spider-Man villain. Via the power of the multiverse, a device that warps time and space, Doc Ock has now been able to make the jump from one franchise property to another, as he prepares to battle Holland's Spider-Man. Or does he?

Based on the No Way Home trailers, we're understandably intrigued by the character's motivations and whether he's occupying the side of good or bad. While we wait for the answers, we've recapped his most important scenes from Spider-Man 2, so scroll down and get prepped for the character's return in No Way Home.


1. Otto Octavius and his wife

Every super-villain has to come from somewhere – and they often start in a position of relative nobility. This is certainly true of Otto Octavius, who begins his Spider-Man journey as a scientist being sponsored by Oscorp. At the onset of Spider-Man 2, Oscorp Industries is reeling from the death of Norman Osborn (Willem Dafoe), who had adopted the mantle of the evil Green Goblin. Harry Osborn (James Franco) has now taken over the company and enlists Otto's help.

The first meeting between Otto and Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) resonates with understanding and warmth, as Otto appreciates the latter's deep interest in his work. Such is the brilliant subtlety of Molina's acting that we can see how, initially, Octavius looks somewhat down his nose at Peter, only to be turned around by his level of intuition. Director Sam Raimi and screenwriter Alvin Sargent also sketch out just enough detail in the loving relationship between Otto and his wife Rosie (Donna Murphy), which accentuates the air of tragedy in the next sequence.



2. Doctor Octopus is born

The well-meaning physicist is exploring nuclear fission and has developed eight mechanical limbs to assist in the job. These limbs are powered by artificial intelligence and controlled by an inhibitor chip implanted into Octavius' neck. When the fission experiment goes badly wrong, Rosie is killed by a piece of flying glass and Octavius' inhibitor chip is destroyed, essentially allowing the tentacles to take on a sentient life of their own. It's a dramatic and alarming sequence that sets the tone for the most intimidating live-action Spider-Man villain of the lot – but it really resonates because we understand Octavius' intentions before he turns to the dark side.



3. Doc Ock kills the doctors

Spider-Man 2 was rated PG on its initial release in the UK, which is a genuine surprise given the terror and carnage that ensues during the infamous hospital sequence. This is the moment where Raimi gets to gleefully tap into his Evil Dead tendencies, deploying POV shots, nimble camerawork, exaggerated crash zooms and hysterical sound effects (crucially, there's also no music) to communicate a sense of horror. (There was also a Spider-Man 2.1 DVD edit, which extended the grisly deaths of some of the hospital staff.) 

Like everything else in Spider-Man 2, it's rooted in a sense of character: as much as anything, we're horrified by Octavius' lack of control as the tentacles do all the work while he remains prone on the hospital gurney. It begs the intriguing question: is the movement of the arms related to his subconscious anger or are they, in fact, sentient? Either way, it hastens the character's descent from a well-intentioned scientist into a full-blown adversary for Peter Parker. If No Way Home can nail but a fraction of this menace, we'll be in for a thrillingly good time. It also makes us anticipate what Raimi has in the bag for the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.



4. Doc Ock fights Spider-Man at the bank

One friendly neighborhood Spider-Man against a vicious baddie who possesses four additional mechanical limbs? No wonder Peter Parker has got his work cut out for him in Spider-Man 2. We already know that Octavius possesses a level of intellect, given his background in nuclear physics. During the attack sequence at the bank, the level of physical threat becomes apparent as he attempts to kidnap Aunt May (Rosemary Harris) before launching into a rooftop fight and using the hands of a giant clock as projectiles. There's a clear upgrade in the quality of the CGI from the first Spider-Man movie, and Raimi keeps everything humming with quick edits and buoyant cinematography.



5. Fight on the train

When Tobey Maguire's Spidey faces his greatest challenge, the citizens of New York come out to show their support. The elevated train fight sequence is a genuinely dazzling bit of CG-assisted choreography, the camera soaring into the air and flying through girders to capture the brutal one-on-one battle between Spider-Man and Doc Ock. 

The sequence is in a continual sense of escalation as the latter attempts to throw passengers from the train before ultimately dismantling the brakes and leaving Peter to stop it himself. He manages it – barely – and this is the catalyst for the inspirational sequence where the train's passengers lift his prone body aloft in a sign of magnanimous support. They also see his face but collectively decide not to reveal his identity. Spider-Man 2 doesn't just have the good guys and bad guys fighting each other – it also deepens our understanding of Spider-Man and the world he occupies.



6. Doc Ock sacrifices himself

At the climax of the movie, the rampaging Doctor Octopus is using an element named tritium, obtained from the vengeful Harry Osborn, to re-ignite his dangerous nuclear experiment. However, he ultimately reconciles with the man he used to be, a development that adds grace notes of sympathy to a frightening villain. Realising that he won't get his wife back and that the entire city of New York is under threat, Doc Ock undergoes a change of heart and learns to take back the advantage from his sentient arms, sacrificing himself in the process. It could be a cheesy coda but so invested are we in the character and Molina's performance that the climax of the movie possesses a hefty emotional kick.

However, we're a little confused. The trailers for No Way Home indicate that, as a result of the multiverse complications, Doc Ock is once again locked in battle with Peter Parker, this time played by Tom Holland. The trailer also makes it clear that Doc Ock is confused when presented with Holland's Peter Parker, as opposed to Tobey Maguire's iteration. That's a logical byproduct of the multiverse scramble. So, is the Doc Ock we see in No Way Home the same one who was redeemed in Spider-Man 2? If so, what does he appear to have turned evil again? We can't wait for December 15th to roll around and provide us the answers.


Click here to book your tickets for Spider-Man: No Way Home, which opens in Cineworld cinemas on 15th December. Is Doc Ock a good guy or a bad guy in the movie? Tweet us your fan theories @Cineworld.