5701 in-depth character profiles from comics, games, movies

Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe in the Spider-Man movie) against the night sky

Green Goblin

(Willem Dafoe movie version)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This is the version of the Green Goblin in the 2002 Spider-Man movie by Sam Raimi.

The character was played by Willem Dafoe (opposite Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man). This version includes more modern elements, though comparing a single movie appearance to decades of comic book stories would be odd.

Spider-Man was an important step in the rise of super-hero movies during the 2000s and 2010s.


Background

  • Real Name: Norman Osborn
  • Marital Status: Divorced
  • Known Relatives: Harry Osborn (son)
  • Group Affiliation: CEO of Oscorp
  • Base Of Operations: New York City
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 160 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Brown


Powers and Abilities

Norman Osborn was an accomplished scientist, specializing in nanotechnology applied to improving human performance. His genius did not extend to financial matters, forcing him to let others manage his company’s operations.

While he had enough engineering expertise to make cosmetic modifications to various items of equipment, he was apparently not the driving force behind Oscorp’s military hardware.

After exposing himself to the experimental Oscorp performance-enhancing process, Norman underwent the same transformation as the earlier animal test subjects. He gained superhuman strength and durability as well as improved dexterity.

Earlier tests suggested that the process increased strength over 800% but it was even more efficacious for Norman, who could punch Spider-Man hard enough to knock him back over two dozen feet with enough momentum to fell a metal lightpost that crossed his path and allowed him to suspend the weight of a cable car full of passengers with one hand.

His improved reflexes and agility allowed him to easily defeat numerous police officers in hand-to-hand in a few seconds and to match the swiftness and acrobatic prowess of Spider-Man.

Unfortunately for Norman, the same process also rendered him insanely violent and aggressive. These psychotic urges manifested as a new identity, the Green Goblin, who supplemented his new physical abilities with Oscorp weaponry, including:

  • an armored suit with wrist-mounted gas jets
  • a one-man flying platform with built-in ramming blades, machine guns and rocket launchers that could be remote-controlled by the aforementioned suit
  • a series of powerful exotic grenades
  • assorted melee weapons

Notes about gear

  • This full-body padded suit was designed to be used with the Oscorp glider, protecting the pilot from environmental wear and tear as well as providing an remote control interface to use the glider to its best advantage.
    Norman added a pair of wrist nozzles that could spray a combination of knockout gas and a temporary paralytic compound at a target within a few feet.
  • The Oscorp glider was a highly maneuverable one-man flying platform durable enough to smash through the exterior walls of buildings without suffering noticeable harm. The glider was armed with sharpened retractable vanes on the front, four mounted machine guns, and two rocket launchers (capacity unknown, probably 2-4 rockets each).
    The rocket payloads varied from light anti-personnel to bunker-busting high-explosive.
  • The Goblin used 3 visually identical types of hand grenades, orange metallic spheres with glowing green striations and white circles on top lined with green LEDs that combined to make them look like miniature demented mechanical pumpkins.
    • The first type was a simple powerful explosive, capable of devastating most of an entire floor of a building in a single blast.
    • The second emitted a green flash of light that vaporized organic material within a 10-foot range.
    • The last type of pumpkin bomb split into 5 separate flying hubs with whirling metal blades that would circle and attack their target repeatedly.
  • Two more specialised weapons were :
    • A steel cable with a bola at the end was used by the Goblin to grab hold of Spider-Man and tow him behind his glider.
    • A “spear-trident”. The tip of this 2-3 foot long, thick metallic green spear could split and expand into 3 equal tines spaced around the center hub of the shaft. Opening the spear into trident form also exposed a built-in taser, judging by the sparks it emitted.
      Since Spider-Man was able to grab the trident’s tines and thus block the Goblin’s strike without being electrocuted, the electrodes for the taser are probably in the hub and thus only discharge if the trident is successfully embedded in its target (thus the Limitations to Lightning in our game stats).

History

Norman Osborn built his company Oscorp by applying his scientific genius to developing military equipment. Though Norman’s specialty was nanotechnology, the company diversified into a variety of other projects such as personal vehicles and weaponry.

Oscorp’s fortunes began to wane when General Slocum took over as the military liaison from the Pentagon. Slocum preferred the exoskeleton being developed by rival corporation Quest Aerospace and also personally disliked Norman.

The only bargaining chip Oscorp had was a performance-enhancing process the company was developing. But even that was progressing too slowly for General Slocum’s tastes. Slocum gave Oscorp 2 weeks to produce a version of the performance enhancer suitable for human trials or he would automatically reward Quest Aerospace with the latest defense department contracts.

Desperate to save his company, Norman secretly used himself as a guinea pig for testing the performance-enhancing process. The formula did greatly increase Norman’s physical abilities but did so at the cost of triggering a psychotic break that focused all of Norman’s worst instincts into a new persona, the Green Goblin.

Evil is green

His first act after the transformation was to kill his collaborator Dr. Mendel Stromm and steal various experimental items of military equipment being developed by Oscorp. Soon afterward the Goblin attacked the Quest Aerospace exoskeleton tests. He destroyed the prototype device and killed the Quest research staff along with General Slocum.

As a result of the losses inflicted on Quest Aerospace, Oscorp became the principal supplier to the US military and its stock soared.

But Osborn’s personal victory was short-lived. As part of their financial restructuring, Quest Aerospace had decided to purchase Oscorp with the provision that Norman Osborn resign and the Oscorp board of directors planned to accept the lucrative offer.

Outraged over the betrayal of being rejected by the company he had built, the Goblin attacked New York City’s Oscorp-sponsored World Day Festival. He killed the board of directors before they could go public with their decision.

This public attack also brought the Goblin into his first battle with Spider-Man. Forced to flee the scene before he could inflict the full measure of his wrath, the Goblin swore to Spider-Man that they would meet again.

Along came a spider

Upon reflection, the Goblin decided that Spider-Man would make a suitable ally. In a perverse coincidence, Norman was pursuing a similar protégé relationship with Spider-Man’s alter ego Peter Parker, who was the best friend of Norman’s son Harry. At this point neither of the men knew the other’s secret identity.

Spider-Man rejected the Goblin’s offer, condemning him as a depraved maniac and thus earning the Goblin’s unrelenting enmity. Very shortly afterward, the Goblin discovered that Spider-Man was Peter Parker. He thus took Spider-Man’s rejection as a personal betrayal.

He attacked Peter’s aunt, hospitalizing her and in the process letting Peter know that the Goblin had learned his secret identity.

The Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) on his glider

The Goblin’s next act was to call Spider-Man to Queensboro Bridge. The hero found the Goblin on top of the bridge holding Peter’s love Mary Jane Watson in one hand and the cable for a cable car full of children in the other. The Goblin released them both simultaneously to plummet into the water below, hoping to force Spider-Man to choose between one or the other.

Spider-Man managed to rescue the children and Mary Jane both with the help of some fellow New Yorkers. In the process, he suffered a brutal beating at the hands of the Green Goblin.

Last battle

Though it seemed that the Green Goblin would prevail, Spider-Man reversed the tide of battle at the last moment. Beaten, the Goblin revealed his true identity to Spider-Man and Norman.

He asked Peter for help in defeating the Goblin persona, telling Peter that he thought himself like a father to the younger man. Peter replied that his father had been his uncle Ben, who had been the one to inspire Peter on his altruistic path.

The Goblin then angrily attempted to attack Spider-Man from behind with the remote-controlled glider. He inadvertantly impaled himself on the glider’s vanes when the webslinger dodged the glider’s charge.

With his dying breath, Norman asked Peter not to tell Harry that he had been the Goblin. Spider-Man complied with this last wish and stripped Norman of the Goblin outfit before leaving his lifeless body at his home. It is unknown how Norman’s death was explained to the public.

However, it is known that neither his activities as the Green Goblin nor Spider-Man’s presence when he died ever became public knowledge. Yet his son Harry eventually learned of both and irrationally blamed Spider-Man for Norman’s death.


Description

Osborn has a lean but powerful frame, his face largely shaped by long cheekbones and a large expressive mouth that can spread into a wide engaging grin or an unsettling leer depending on his mood. He is usually dressed in expensive business suits in conservative colors (grays, blues, etc.).

As the Green Goblin, Norman wears a high-tech padded green bodysuit reinforced by small interlocking segments of metallic green plastic plating. The mask is a full-head hardshell, elongated at the back like a aerodynamic bicycle helmet, with pointed ears and a grimacing face with yellow bubble lenses for eyes and silver teeth.

The elongated section has a metallic purple tinge. A fine mesh grill covers the mask’s gaping mouth hole, behind which the wearer’s own mouth can sometimes be seen if the lighting is right.

When not in flight Norman sometimes has the lenses retract so he can make eye contact with others.


Personality

Driven and ambitious, Norman placed much of his self-esteem in his scientific abilities and his success in business. Because his acumen did not extend to financial matters, he was forced to trust others to manage his company.

This left him vulnerable to those directors. He thus felt the sting of betrayal very acutely when it seemed he would be forced out of his company by those same people.

He also made statements about his former wife suggesting she had likewise been primarily interested in his wealth. Whether this was an accurate description of his marriage is unrevealed. But that perception probably heightened Norman’s feelings of distrust and insecurity and made the rejection of his military liaison and his own board of directors all the more painful.

Though Norman loved his son Harry, he was frustrated by Harry’s lack of success at school and in his personal life. Ironically, Harry’s troubles likely stemmed in large part from the difficulty of living in his father’s shadow.

In seeking out Peter Parker and Spider-Man as protégés in his respective identities, Norman seemed to be seeking out a surrogate son who exhibited the intelligence and strength that he believed was in himself and feared did not exist in his son.

The Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) vs. Spider-Man

Goblin splinter

After his alteration by the performance-enhancing process, Norman apparently developed a second personality, the Green Goblin. It is unknown whether the Green Goblin was a truly separate persona or if Norman was only conceptualizing it as such to disassociate himself from the Goblin’s evil acts.

Regardless of the exact psychological mechanisms, the two identities were initially very distinct. Norman even suffered amnesia regarding the Goblin’s early acts, only recalling them later on.

They began merging as time went on. As a result, the Goblin’s ruthless selfishness and tendency for violence making themselves increasingly apparent in Norman’s behavior.

The Goblin was an amplification of Norman’s worst traits, particularly his drive to succeed at any cost. But some of Norman’s more salutary traits still shone through occasionally.

In a cruel twist Norman began to build a better relationship with his son. He recognized that he had not given Harry the attention and respect that he should have and beginning to build the father-son relationship he had previously been seeking out with Peter.

His final act after being mortally wounded by his own glider was to beg Peter not to tell Harry he had been the Green Goblin.


Quotes

“Don’t be a coward. Risks are part of laboratory science.”

Goblin: “You’re an amazing creature, Spider-Man. You and I are not so different.”
Spider-Man: “I’m not like you. You’re a murderer.”
Goblin: “Well, to each his own.”

“Here’s the real truth. There are eight million people in this city and those teeming masses exist for the sole purpose of lifting the few exceptional people onto their shoulders. You, me — we’re exceptional.”

Goblin: “What about my generous proposal ? Are you in or are you out ?”
Spider-Man: “It’s you who’s out, Gobby. Out of your mind.”
Goblin: “Wrong answer !…No one says ‘no’ to me !”

“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 you choice, Spider-Man, and see how a hero is rewarded.”


DC Universe History

As a general suggestion, any number of DCU companies or organizations could replace Quest as the rival corporation that drove Norman to such desperate ends. Norman may develop a relationship with another character that mirrors his own life just as he did in the movie.

His own successes and failures would follow that person’s, as a result of coincidence rather than direct connection between the two. Similar dynamics would evolve between Norman and the other person in their heroic and civilian identities.

As with the comic book version, the injury inflicted by the glider may not have killed Norman outright. While his injuries were severe enough to make him appear dead upon superficial inspection, he was in fact only in a deep coma. Government agents, aware of Oscorp’s projects and suspecting that Norman was the Green Goblin, monitored his autopsy.

When it became obvious to the examiners that he had survived due to his enhancement, Osborn was secretly moved to Belle Reve. He was later inducted into the Suicide Squad under a new identity complete with cosmetic modifications to himself and his equipment.

(As can be seen in the third movie, the Goblin equipment can undergo fairly radical changes in form without losing any function, so players/GMs can be fairly free with redefining Osborn’s villainous identity while remaining within the established limits of the character.)

Osborn received anti-psychotic drugs that effectively controlled his condition during his time working for Amanda Waller in the Squad. This in tandem with his exemplary service on numerous missions, which also gave Osborn the respect from others that he craved, eventually earned him his freedom.

Afterward he worked at a series of government jobs as a research scientist specializing in nanotech.

The appreciation that Norman received for his current work was his greatest award. It proved in his mind that it was his scientific abilities all along that had made him successful and not the financial planners he had been forced to rely on at Oscorp. To all appearances, Osborn was a case of successful rehabilitation.

This rebirth was thrown into disarray when Amanda Waller ended up in a tight spot with Checkmate. A number of Black operatives tried to force her to approve the foreign assassinations of “questionable assets.” She was imprisoned in her own facility when she refused.

Before being locked down Waller sent out a secret distress signal to an emergency team she had surreptitiously prepared years before. Vixen, Deadshot, Count Vertigo, and the Green Goblin were activated by this signal. In Osborn’s case, his chemical rehabilitation was undone by a nano-implant as Waller needed the more ruthless Goblin persona for this mission.

When Osborn reverted to his psychotic self and promptly retrieved his Goblin armor, a recording hidden within the helmet informed him that he was infected with a timed plague which would kill him within 72 hours. His only chance was to contact Vixen and carry out Waller’s rescue under the heroine’s command, after which he would receive the antidote to the disease.

After a deadly and daring rescue of The Wall, Osborn was injected with the antidote. The shot also contained the drugs that would suppress his psychosis once again, but the Goblin had anticipated this and already secretly introduced a counter-agent into his bloodstream.

As a result, the Green Goblin was free once more to pursue his twisted schemes with his associates none the wiser.

While his madness will eventually demand public expression, for the moment Osborn bides his time as a seemingly-faithful lapdog of the government. Whatever his final plans, they will undoubtedly be all the more hideously effective for the time he is now spending in preparation.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

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The Green Goblin

Dex: 09 Str: 09 Bod: 07 Motivation: Psychopath/Power Lust
Int: 07 Wil: 05 Min: 05 Occupation: Scientist
Inf: 05 Aur: 06 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 010
Init: 023 HP: 040

Skills:
Acrobatics (Athletics): 07, Gadgetry: 04, Martial Artist*: 09, Scientist: 05, Weaponry (Melee, Missile): 07, Vehicles (Glider): 07

Advantages:
Expansive Headquarters (Secret 12 AP Laboratory in his high-rise penthouse), Scholar (Nanotechnology)

Connections:
Oscorp (Low, possibly High after killing the board of directors and assuming direct personal control), US Military (Low)

Drawbacks:
CIA (Destroying those who defy him or stand in his way), Secret Identity (Norman Osborn)

Equipment:

  • COSTUME [/BODY/ 08, Knockout Gas: 12, Paralysis: 12, Radio Communication: 06, Shade: 06, Bonuses & Limitations: Knockout Gas only has a Range of 1 AP with no Area of Effect (-2FC), Paralysis is Combined with Knockout Gas (+1FC); Paralysis uses BODY/BODY as OV/RV and only takes effect after a successful Knockout Gas attack (-1FC); Radio Comm is Scrambled (+1FC); Radio Comm can only be used to remote control the glider (-3FC)]
  • Glider [STR 07 BODY 11, Claws: 06, Cling: 06, Flight: 07, Projectile Weapons: 07, Bonuses & Limitations: Cling only represents attachment of pilot to the glider (-3FC)] w/ROCKETS [BODY 01, Bomb: 08 or 12, Range: 08, R#03, Grenade drawback, Limitation: Bomb has No Range and uses the listed Range instead].
    The Glider’s STR assumes that the Goblin was Pushing while lifting the cable car with the glider, which is circumstantially supported by the extra smoke and grinding noises the glider emitted as it slowly ascended with the car in tow.

The remaining items were all stowed in various hidden compartments in the glider:

  • Pumpkin Bomb I [BODY 01, Bomb: 10, Grenade Drawback]
  • Pumpkin Bomb II [BODY 01, Disintegration: 06, Bonuses & Limitations: Disintegration has an Area Effect of 0 APs (+2FC); Disintegration only works on organic material (-2FC); Grenade Drawback]
  • Pumpkin Bomb III [DEX 06 BODY 01, Claws: 04, Flight: 05, Grenade drawback, Bonuses & Limitations: Claws uses the listed DEX for AV (+1FC); Flight can only be sustained for four Phases (-2FC), Miscellaneous Advantage: This Grenade splits into 5 duplicate drones, effectively giving itself a +4 Dart Bonus to start which will decrease accordingly in subsequent rounds if segments are destroyed (each segment having BODY 01)]
  • Steel Cable w/ Bola [Steel Cable Bola [BODY 11, Snare: 08, Ammo: 01, Note: Snare cannot be more than 1 CS higher than the applicable Weaponry Skill of the wielder]
  • Spear-Trident [BODY 08, EV 03/04 (spear/trident), Lighting: 08, Limitations: Lighting has a Range of Touch and can only be used against a target if they first suffer RAPs from the trident’s EV (-2FC total)].

Design notes

Dex was selected in part based on the idea that the Goblin and Spider-Man both have AVs one CS below their opponent’s OVs, so they usually didn’t land high-RAP hits on each other.

This also assumes that each of them burned a lot of HPs while the other didn’t for their respective one-sided smackdowns during the final battle (in each case being aided by the defending party being stunned at the start of the beatings due to the Pumpkin Bomb blast and having a wall dropped on him, respectively).

Str is high because of Norman’s relative ease with handling the fully-loaded cable car. Spider-Man’s strength will be adjusted upward an AP or 2 for the same reason. Spider-Man’s HPs will probably also be adjusted slightly upward to match Norman’s, increasing more for subsequent films.

The Goblin abilities will be substantially the same for Harry Osborn.Without getting into any spoilers that weren’t already included in the trailers, Harry’s equipment differs mostly in cosmetics rather than performance. Ditto with their physical attributes.

The Gadgetry score is a conservative estimate and assumes that Norman’s engineering talents only extended to modifying the equipment he used as the Green Goblin, said items apparently being first designed and built by others within Oscorp and involving devices outside of his stated area of expertise. His Gadgetry may be 7-9 APs if he was in fact also the primary engineer behind those items.

It was unclear how much of the Green Goblin’s resistance to physical damage was due to his enhancement and how much was due to his armor. I have assumed that the results of the enhancement were the same for Norman as they were for his son Harry in Spider-Man 3 (that is, durability and recovery at slightly superhuman levels), thus BODY 07.


By Roy Cowan

Source of Character: Spider-Man (movie), character played by Willem Dafoe

Helper(s): Mike, Sébastien Andrivet

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