Michael Keaton Gushes About Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin Performance In 2002’s Spider-Man


DC and Marvel actor Michael Keaton reveals his thoughts on Willem Dafoe’s performance as Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Michael Keaton pioneered the modern superhero movie with his work on Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman. Almost thirty years later, Keaton returned to the superhero genre as Adrian Toomes a.k.a. the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming — a role he reprised in Morbius’ infamous post-credits scene — before going back to where it all started in The Flash, where he played Batman once again. The DCU is leaving Keaton’s Batman behind and Vulture’s future in Marvel’s upcoming movies is up in the air, but Michael Keaton takes the time to look back on his comic book roles.

In an episode of GQ’s iconic roles series of videos, Michael Keaton highlights his admiration for Willem Dafoe, particularly due to his outstanding performance the first installment of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Keaton explains, “you watch Willem Dafoe (…) in Spider-Man, he’s unbelievably good. I mean, he’s unbelievably good.” Watch the full interview below:

Willem Dafoe didn’t have much competition when he played Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, but his impact on the franchise and the superhero movie genre as a whole is undeniable. Green Goblin is an outlandish character in both looks and behavior, which makes him a difficult character to adapt without him coming off as a parody. But Willem Dafoe doubled down on Green Goblin’s outlandish aspects, and he portrayed Norman Osborn’s original persona as a tragic victim of his own to balance it out. Not to mention, each minuscule mannerism was carefully chosen by Dafoe to portray this dichotomy.

Willem Dafoe is an actor who puts his heart and soul into every role, big or small. Although extravagantly so, Dafoe approaches the Green Goblin as a real person within the Marvel universe, which makes his performance come across as authentic. Dafoe’s return in Spider-Man: No Way Home only improves on his role, as he got the chance to portray the Green Goblin to the full extent of his ability with the villain’s face unmasked. In his second turn as Norman Osborn, Willem Dafoe’s full range of emotion helped finish establishing Green Goblin as Spider-Man’s true archnemesis.

How Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin Performance Stacks Up Against Other Spider-Man Villains
Like Dafoe’s Green Goblin, Alfred Molina made his Doctor Octopus a tragic antagonist with sympathetic origins but driven by his lowly desires. Thomas Haden-Church, although having much less screentime than previous villains, captured Sandman’s regret and heartbreak perfectly. Jake Gyllenhaal also stands out for successfuly transforming Mysterio, a rather absurd Spider-Man villain, into a serious antagonist without losing his comic book charm. And of course, Michael Keaton stole the spotlight with Vulture’s intimidating presence and surprisingly honest morals. However, Willem Dafoe’s unparalleled performance as Green Goblin in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man simply left the bar too high.

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