Spider-Man’s Worst Villain Should Be Banned From The MCU

Spider-Man's clone, Ben Reilly, is now Chasm, the Sorcerer-King of Limbo, and he should never join the MCU.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

Ben Reilly, a clone of Peter Parker, and also Chasm

Batman may have the best villains in DC, but in the world of Marvel Comics, it’s Spider-Man that has the greatest rogue’s gallery. Doctor Octopus and Norman Osborn may be competing for the top spot as his arch-nemesis, but at the bottom of the list, one man now stands alone: Ben Reilly, aka Chasm. Thanks to Marvel‘s handling of the one-time fan favorite, Chasm is now worse than Gibbon, Man Mountain Marko, Ringer, Vermin, and even The Looter, to the point that he should never be part of the MCU.

Chasm should be banned partly because of his convoluted backstory (part of which you can read directly from Marvel.com), which originates in the 90s “Clone Saga” storyline, which lasted most of the decade and made fans think the Peter Parker they followed for nearly 20 years was a clone. The “real” Parker was revealed to be Ben Reilly, though he was ultimately revealed to be a clone after dying at the hands of the Green Goblin. From his introduction to his first death, Reilly became a fan favorite as The Scarlet Spider, and many fans preferred him as the real Spider-Man.

Trying to explain how he came back decades later in another clone-based storyline, this time taking the place of the villainous Jackal, requires a large whiteboard, plenty of markers, red string, and lots of patience. The biggest issue fans had with this often-requested return was that the character had been completely changed from the bad-luck clone of Peter Parker to an insane scientist. Had that been the end of Ben Reilly, he might still be fondly remembered, but Marvel went back to the well a third time, and now he’s Spider-Man’s worst villain.

Scarlet Spider

Returning to the “Beyond” storyline as, again, a replacement Spider-Man, Ben Reilly was now corporate-sponsored and working at the Beyond Corporation. After being betrayed by his employers and wiping his memories, Reilly became obsessed with the hole in his thoughts and was drowned in psychoactive ooze that gave him a new power set and a new costume that’s a strange cross of Spider-Man, Venom, and Electro. Standard comic stuff that requires 30 years of backstory to understand fully.

Now calling himself Chasm, Ben Reilly teamed up with Marvel’s other famous clone, Madelyn Pryor, and brought Hell to Earth in the “Dark Web” storyline. Bear with me here, but this description is 100 percent accurate: Ben Reilly is a clone of Peter Parker, with all the powers of Spider-Man, that is also a monstrous Hell-powered sorcerer ruling the dimension of Limbo. If it sounds insane, that’s because it is, and that’s the second reason why Chasm needs to stay far away from the MCU.

With the MCU now in the middle of the “Multiverse Saga” and following three Spider-Men showing up in No Way Home, it may be tempting to think that now is the right time to introduce Ben Reilly as Peter Parker’s clone. He’s part of Across the Spider-Verse, as Scarlet Spider, but despite the rumored cross-over between the Sony film and the MCU, introducing Reilly as either a hero or villain would be a mistake even if the timing will never be better.

It took hundreds of words to offer the briefest explanation of Ben Reilly, and with so many better villains out there, Disney should never consider adding the clone to the MCU. Not only have they ruined his character in the comics, but “cloning” is a harder sell than “variant” as an in-universe explanation for why two Tom Hollands are on-screen. Reilly would take Spider-Man away from the direction he should be going in: the street-level Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.

Ben Reilly as The Jackal

With Vincent D’Onofrio back as The Kingpin and Daredevil: Born Again fleshing out the seedy underbelly of the MCU’s New York, it’s also the perfect time to re-launch Holland’s Spider-Man as dealing with normal criminals and small-time villains, similar to Michael Keaton’s Vulture from Homecoming. While, on the one hand, it’s the right time to bring in a clone, it will also undermine the great work Marvel has done with the latest Spider-Man trilogy.

That’s three good reasons to ban Ben Reilly from the MCU when only the sentence “Spider-Man clone that rules Hell” should be enough of a reason all on its own. Chasm is the result of writers trying too hard to come up with a new angle for an older character. Had Ben Reilly been left dead after the “Clone Saga,” he’d be fondly remembered to this day, instead of a villain with poor characterization and the worst backstory in comics.

At least Batman has Condiment King, a much better villain than Chasm.