The Lizard: Who is the Scaled Supervillain?

The Strange Case of Doctor Connors and Mister Lizard

The Lizard:Not… a monster. I’m Curtisss Connorsss. And I will never let the monstersss win again.”

Superior Spider-Man #13 

A one-armed scientist feverishly mixes chemicals. He has been researching a cure for his condition, but can barely hold himself together. At long last, he has found the formula. The scientist fills a syringe with the cure, but drops it as his body convulses. “No! Not now!” he thinks. He crawls towards the syringe muttering to himself. “Stop it! Stop it! Stopit! StOpit! sTopIt!” He gropes for the syringe. “Don’t change! Don’t cHAnGe! “DON’T CHANGE!

The scientist screams in agony as an arm sprouts from his stump. His skin hardens into green scales. Reptilian muscles swell and shred his clothes. His teeth and nails sharpen into fangs and claws. A newly-grown tail shatters the syringe. Intelligent blue eyes change to yellow slits. A research assistant slams the door open, having heard the screams. They can only gape in horror as The Lizard lunges at them.

The Lizard is one of Marvel’s most tragic villains. A desperate man’s miraculous creation gave birth to a nightmare. So who is he? Why does he transform into a monster? Is there a cure? Let’s find out.

Regeneration: The Lizard’s Backstory

Dr. Connors: [transforming for the first time] “I’ve made… a terrible… mistake!

The Spectacular Spider-Man “Natural Selection” (Season 1, Episode 3)

The Lizard debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #6 in 1963. He was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Doctor Curtis Connors was an army surgeon who lost an arm to shrapnel. He struggled to adapt to his new disability and searched for a way to replace his arm. He obsessively studied lizards because of their ability to regenerate lost limbs.

Dr. Connors eventually devised a serum that caused regeneration. Like any mad scientist worth his death ray, he immediately tried it on himself. The arm grew back, good as new. Unfortunately, the serum transformed him into a half man and half lizard monstrosity.

The Lizard went on a rampage, drawing Spider-Man’s attention. He discovered what Dr. Connors had done and synthesized an antidote. Spider-Man turned the creature back to Dr. Connors, but the new cure cost him the arm. The grateful scientist became one of Spider-Man’s most frequent allies and has saved his life on multiple occasions.

Shed: The Lizard’s History

The Lizard:Kah Ners want kill Cold One. Kah Ners be rival male.
Dr. Connors:Don’t do this. No… NO!
The Lizard:Cold One raid Kah Ners nest.
Dr. Connors:I’LL DIE BEFORE I LET YOU DO IT!
The Lizard:Cold One eat Kah Ners young!

Amazing Spider-Man #631

Spider-Man’s cure was only a stopgap. The serum altered Dr. Connors’ body so that he would turn into the Lizard if stressed. Say, Dr. Banner, why does that sound familiar? In any case, Doctor Connors fell into a loop of getting stressed, transforming, fighting Spider-Man or other heroes, and being cured, only to rinse and repeat a few months later.

The Lizard developed a personality as the transformations continued. Originally wanting revenge against Spider-Man for imprisoning him, The Lizard soon set his sights on conquest. He wanted to create a race of super-lizards like himself and conquer the world. Dealer’s choice if that was by transforming humans or uplifting lizards and slaughtering humanity.

The Lizard eventually realized that the only way to prevent himself from being sealed away was to get rid of Dr. Connors. He hunted down Connors’ son, Billy, and devoured him. The trauma caused Dr. Connors’ mind to suppress itself while the monster took control of their body.

Spider-Man developed a new cure to stop The Lizard, which had the side effect of making him smarter. The Lizard grew to regret killing Billy and allowed himself to be arrested. Dr. Connor’s mind merged with The Lizard, restoring his control over their body. Unfortunately, that left him trapped in reptilian form. Dr. Connors was released from prison and has dedicated his life to atoning for his crimes.

Evolution: The Lizard’s Powers and Personality

The Lizard:My name is Curt Connors. I have done terrible, unspeakable things. I have done the worst thing a man can do. But I have been given a second chance. I never deserved it. But I will use it.

Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 #19

Dr. Connors is an expert surgeon, physicist, and geneticist who specializes in herpetology (the study of reptiles and amphibians). As The Lizard, he has superhuman strength, durability, poisoned fangs, and a healing factor. This form is mostly based on monitor lizards and alligators, but has elements from geckos that allow him to wall crawl.

The Lizard is mostly a physical threat, but he has a few tricks up his sleeves. He can telepathically control reptiles and drive humans berserk by targeting the amygdala (the “lizard brain”). He is also smart enough to recreate the serum that created him.

Dr. Connors is often wracked with guilt for his crimes as The Lizard and is implied to suffer from PTSD due to his combat experiences. The Lizard is sometimes portrayed as a would-be conqueror and other times as a mindless beast that kills for fun. After having his intelligence boosted, he developed a fondness for human creations like music and video games.

The Actors Who Play The Lizard

Gillie Fenwick – Spider-Man (1967)
Corey Burton – Spider-Man (1981)
Joseph Campanella – Spider-Man: The Animated Series
Rob Zombie – Spider-Man: The New Animated Series
Dee Bradley Baker – The Spectacular Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man
Yuri Lowenthal – Marvel’s Spider-Man
Dylan Baker – Spider-Man 2
Rhys Ifans – The Amazing Spider-Man

Didya Get All That?

A classic werewolf story with a reptilian twist.

Image: Rhys Ifans stars as Dr. Connors/The Lizard in Columbia Pictures’ “The Amazing Spider-Man”. Courtesy of Sony Pictures

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