Green Goblin vs. Hobgoblin: Explaining the Differences

Green Goblin vs. Hobgoblin

Green Goblin is one of the most iconic enemies of Spider-Man. The character appeared in numerous comics, but in the Spider-Man movies, too. On the other hand, there’s the Hobgoblin – a similar character that somewhat continued the legacy of the Green Goblin after he had been finally defeated. So, what are the differences between Green Goblin and Hobgoblin?

The Hobgoblin appeared around 20 years later than the Green Goblin. The writers didn’t want to resurrect Green Goblin once again, so instead, they ventured into a new character, Hobgoblin, who had very similar skills and weapons, but more of a supernatural vibe.

While Green Goblin did have some superhuman abilities like superhuman strength and durability, it’s up to interpretation whether it was all a figment of his insane mind, or did the Serum he took really give him superhuman abilities. On the other hand, Hobgoblin is sane and undoubtedly has superhuman powers. Let’s dive a bit deeper into their differences.

From Hobgoblin to Green Goblin

As I mentioned in the introduction, the Hobgoblin appeared a lot later than Green Goblin. The character was developed as a homage to Green Goblin’s legacy. The fans loved Green Goblin, but the persona had been shuffled around numerous people, killed and revived one too many times.

The fans wanted more of the character, but the writers didn’t want to resurrect him again or introduce another person to become the Green Goblin. So, instead of giving us yet another resurrection, writers Roger Stern and John Romita Jr. created Hobgoblin.

The character first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #238 in 1983. He had a very similar appearance to Green Goblin, and even used very similar gadgets and weapons. For instance, he used the weaponized Goblin Glider, used cherry bombs, and had phenomenal strength, reflexes, and stamina.

However, there were some obvious differences between the characters. Let’s dig into their similarities first, because it will give a much better understanding of how the characters differ, and how Hobgoblin continued the legacy of Green Goblin – and possibly even upgraded it.

Similarities between Green Goblin and Hobgoblin

When you compare Green Goblin and Hobgoblin, you can immediately see how similar they are. Firstly, the entire Hobgoblin appearance was based on Green Goblin, but they gave him more of an old-school, medieval vibe instead of going the other way and making him more high-tech and advanced.

In fact, Hobgoblin found old equipment and paraphernalia that Green Goblin left behind, enhanced it, and used it himself. He even upgraded the Goblin Serum in a way that doesn’t have to explode to give him superpowers.

For a long time, we didn’t know if Norman Osborn – the initial Green Goblin – really had superhuman powers, or was it just a figment of his insanity. But, once Hobgoblin appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man in 1983, we learn that the explosion that made Norman turn into Green Goblin really gave him some superpowers, like super strength, stamina, and durability.

It also gave him brain damage that made him insane, but the insanity wasn’t a product of the explosion but rather a fault in the Goblin Serum formula. Hobgoblin improved the Serum, gaining all the superhuman abilities Green Goblin had but avoiding the brain damage.

One of the more subtle yet important similarities between the characters is that both had several identities – different people taking on the role. Still, the first person who took on the character was the most dangerous in both cases.

As mentioned before, Norman Osborn was the first Green Goblin, followed by his son, Harry Osborn, and then Harry’s psychiatrist, Bart Hamilton, who used Harry to find Green Goblin’s stash and take on the role himself.

Hobgoblin’s identity hadn’t been revealed for quite some time – for over a decade, all we knew is that he perfected the formula, gained superpowers, and became Spider-Man’s next big goblin threat. He protected his identity successfully for years by putting other people behind the mask.

Ned Leeds was the first guy we thought was the real Hobgoblin. After his death, Jason Macendale took on the identity. Eventually, we discover that the real Hobgoblin is Roderick Kingsley in The Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #1-3 in 1997. 

He was unhappy with Macendale for taking his role, so Kingsley killed him and continued operating as the true Hobgoblin. More people took on the role later, including Phil Urich and even Harry Osborn, but Roderick Kingsley was always the biggest threat.

So, both Green Goblin and Hobgoblin had Spider-Man as their primary enemy. Both used the same Goblin Serum (Hobgoblin’s formula was improved). Both had very similar costumes and weapons and gadgets, and both had numerous people take on the role. All those similarities lead us to their differences.

Differences between Green Goblin and Hobgoblin

Now that we know their initial backstories and how similar they are, one might wonder, is there anything that makes them different from one another? Of course, there is.

First and foremost, most versions of Green Goblin were insane. Norman Osborn had gone insane and had split personalities after the Serum exploded and turned him into Green Goblin. His son, Harry, went crazy over grief after finding out his father was the Green Goblin and Spider-Man killing him, along with learning that Spider-Man is his best friend, Peter Parker.

Even his psychiatrist, Bart Hamilton, was a bit insane when he took on the role. On the other hand, most versions of Hobgoblin are completely sane. Kingsley had improved the Goblin Serum to bypass the side effects, so he kept his sanity while gaining all the superpowers Green Goblin had gotten from the Serum.

However, he was a lot more power-hungry. Some versions of Hobgoblin made cybernetic changes to his body to become even more lethal. He even made a deal with a demon that merged the two, getting him even more superpowers in exchange for his soul – the version of Hobgoblin being named the Demogoblin.

So, one might say that the biggest difference between Green Goblin and Hobgoblin was their sanity. While most versions of Green Goblin were insane, most versions of Hobgoblin were completely sane but immensely power-hungry.

He was willing to sell his body and soul if that meant he’d gain power. On the other hand, Osborn’s insanity caused a fixation on Spider-Man, so his primary goal wasn’t ultimate power but destroying Spider-Man and revealing his identity.

While they did have similar weapons, one could argue that Hobgoblin was somewhat advanced compared to Green Goblin. Here’s why.

Green Goblin vs. Hobgoblin: Who is deadlier?

After several years of thinking that we’re done with the Green Goblin because of the character remaining silent, it was safe to assume that Hobgoblin completely took over the reins. However, in ‘Spider-Man 75‘ in 1996, it’s revealed that Norman Osborn is alive, and he returned to his Green Goblin role, later known as the Goblin King.

At the same time, Phil Urich’s Hobgoblin stepped away from the role and became the Goblin Knight, working with Osborn’s Goblin King. That made many believe that Hobgoblin is inferior to Green Goblin, and the character took a dramatic turn.

Kingsley returned as the Hobgoblin, but now, he leases the costumes and gadgets of other supervillains who are now inactive or have died. My point in mentioning all of this is, both are very layered characters with unique skills and abilities, but when it comes to who’s deadlier, there’s only one right answer, and that’s the Hobgoblin.

First of all, you need to take a look at the character’s motivations. Green Goblin’s initial goal was to take over the criminal underworld in New York, but his insanity quickly caused a fixation on Spider-Man and made him hurt. It became his ultimate goal, regardless of anything else.

On the other hand, although Hobgoblin is a big nemesis to Spider-Man, his only goal is to make money and power. Sure, he likes to see Spidey hurt, but there’s no fixation.

Secondly, we know that Kingsley had experimented and improved the Goblin Serum, removing the side-effects that caused insanity. Sometimes, being insane and fearless had helped Green Goblin, but at most times, it caused him more harm than good. By remaining sane, Hobgoblin makes more rational, calculated decisions, ultimately making him deadlier than his predecessor.

Another thing that makes Hobgoblin deadlier is his lust for power. Nothing can stop him from getting it; as we know, he even merged himself with a demon to become Demogobling, selling his soul just to have more power. He was also a member of the Sinister Six, a team of supervillains that made him that much more dangerous.

Finally, Hobgoblin’s improvements of the Goblin Serum formula not only kept him sane but also enhanced the other effects as well. When Green Goblin and Hobgoblin finally fought in ‘Spectacular Spider-Man #261’, Osborn concluded that Kingsley eclipsed him in strength, durability, speed, and other physical attributes.

Green Goblin had to rely on his gadgets and weapons to fight Spider-Man, as he was simply physically outpowered, but Kingsley’s Hobgoblin was a formidable opponent to Parker even without his weapons.

Therefore, while both have similar weaponry and high intellect, Kingsley’s identity-hiding skills, along with his sanity and improved physical attributes, make Hobgoblin a deadlier supervillain than Green Goblin.

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