Irrfan Khan says he is Van Atter, but he’s not Proto-Goblin, in SPIDER-MAN

James Wallace

by: James Wallace
February 7th, 2011

When news hit of Irrfan Khan’s casting as Nels Van Atter (known as Nels Van Adder in the comics) in Marc Webb’s SPIDER-MAN redux, those familiar with the mythos quickly hypothesized that this was an obvious sign pointing to the Proto-Goblin’s appearance as either a major or minor villain. But it seems that Van Atter is not Van Adder!

In speaking to The Indian Express (via, Khan revealed that he only agreed to play the role if it was not a baddie.

“While he is looking forward to Spiderman, the 48-year-old confesses, that initially he wasn’t keen on the project. “I didn’t want to be part of this violent American fantasy. But both my sons were excited and kept insisting that I take it up.” But the intricacy and freshness of the script finally won. Even then, Irrfan placed one condition before Webber — he didn’t want to be a masked villain or become another creature.”

While the outlet may have flubbed the director’s name, you can’t deny the validity of this story being it is straight from the actor’s mouth. Alas, The Lizard may be our only villain with the Van Atter character being altered to fit the film’s take on the origins of your friendly, neighborhood web slinger. The question remains; does the character’s appearance still hint at the possibility of a future introduction of The Green Goblin considering his ties to Norman Osborn and OsCorp?

Read on for more on the Proto-Goblin’s origins and his connection to The Green Goblin.

Having only one appearance in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #1from 1997, Nels van Adder was actually a research assistant employed by Oscorp Industries, who volunteered himself for the chemical serum experiments Norman Osborn was conducting (which later transformed Osborn himself into Spidey’s arch-enemy). As these things often go in the comic book world, the experiments went horribly wrong and the man was mutated into the Proto-Goblin, a monstrous crimson-colored villain that possessed super strength, along with sharp claws and fangs.

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