Curtis Connors (Lizard)

lizardfilmIt’s villains time, as we find yet another one of Spider-Man‘s enemies in casualgamer‘s list. This time we meet Lizard, one of the oldest (and deadliest) foes of Spidey. He first appeared in Spider-Man 2 portrayed by Dylan Baker, but we only saw his human alter-ego Curt Connors: Connors appeared as Peter Parker‘s mentor and lab supervisor, a friend of Otto Octavius and a capable scientist. In Spider-Man 3, Peter brings to him the alien symbiote he’s found to have it analyzed, and Connors warns him to stay away from it. Finally, in The Amazing Spider-Man, we see another version of Connors, portrayed by Rhys Ifans: this one is a geneticist working for Oscorp, who experiments on himself his innovative regenerating serum when his supervisor, Dr. Rata, threatens to fire him…the serum works, but it transforms him into a human-sized lizard who wants to transform every single human being in a creature like himself. Luckily enough, Spider-Man is there to stop him. Now, let’s take a look at the original one.

Curtis Connors was born in Coral GablesFlorida, from a middle class family. A brilliant young man, he attended Medical School, and obtained doctorates in both biology and biochemistry. In college he met Martha, a girl he fell in love with; while they were still engaged, Curt was enlisted in the US Army as a war surgeon, and left to serve his country in many war zones. His talent was undeniable, but working in such an environment was dangerous nevertheless, something that Connors learnt on his own skin when an explosion took away his right arm. After the accident, he came back to the United States, were he found a job as a researcher; he also got married with Martha, and some years later the two had a son, Billy. The loss of his arm deeply traumatized Connors, and it also influenced his work: he grew obsessed with finding a way to regrow people’s lost limbs, and he started studying reptiles and their unique ability to replace a lost tail or limb, wanting to “borrow” that characteristic and to use it to lizardcomics1make human DNA better. His work absorbed him so much that he eventually left his home and moved to a lab house in the Florida Everglades, continuing his research with the help of his fellow scientist and war buddy Ted Sallis. All the time spent on his experiments eventually rewarded him, as Connors managed to synthesize a serum based on reptiles’ DNA, compatible with human organism and (allegedly) effective in regrowing lost limbs. After a rabbit had his missing paw succesfully regrown, the last step was, of course, human experimentation, and Connors obviously tested his serum on himself: overwhelmed with joy and satisfaction, the scientist saw his right arm growing back, but that was before the side-effects kicked in. The reptilian DNA mixed with his own and modified it, turning him into a humanoid, vicious lizard, who disappeared in the Everglades. The monster hunted in the swamps, and the local population was terrified by the creature. Sightings of “The Lizard” gained the country’s attention, so much that even a newspaper like The Daily Bugle got interested in the story: in order to investigate the presence of this man-slaughtering lizard-man in the Everglades, editor J. Jonah Jameson arrived in Florida with his photographer Peter Parker.

Exploring the surroundings, Parker found Connors’ lab (Sallis wasn’t there, having being transformed into a monster himself and wandering the Everglades as Man-Thing), and his notes as well. The photographer was secretly the heroic Spider-Man, and when Lizard emerged from the swamps for hunting, he was there to face him: starting from Connors’ notes, Spider-Man managed to develop an antidote, and despite being heavily overpowered during his fight with the monster, he managed to force the beast to assume the new serum. Connors turned human again, regaining his appearance and personality…as well as his missing right arm. Unable to put up with his handicap, Connors perfected his serum and tried it once again on himself, but Lizard returned: this time, Curt’s former colleague Charles Xavier sent his X-Men to track him down, and at the end of the fight Iceman froze the monster, keeping him hybernated as long as they found a cure. Beast managed to develop a new serum, and lizardcomics2Connors was apparently cured from his condition, with his monstrous alter ego gone for good. Finally, Connors gave up, and came back to his family; they moved together to New York City, in the effort of leaving behind the misadventures with Lizard. In New York, Curt became friends with Spider-Man, and helped him in more than one occasion: he cured May Parker when she was poisoned with radiations, and he developed a special acid to destroy Rhino‘s armor, thus allowing Spidey to defeat him. This period of peace wasn’t meant to last long: the Lizard was now part of Connors, and was ready to come back any time. First, he transformed back to Lizard because of the exposure to the chemicals he had used to fight Rhino: again, Spider-Man barely survived the experience, but he eventually managed to force the antidote into the monster and to have Connors resurface. Lizard didn’t need chemicals anymore, however, and when Curt was kidnapped by Silvermane to create a rejuvenating formula for him, the fear, rage and stress were enough to trigger the transformation; this time, only the combined effort of Spider-Man and the Human Torch managed to subdue Lizard. Now, Curt Connors knew that he had become a constant threat even for Martha and Billy, as his mammal-hating counterpart was ready to take control of him everytime he experienced a strong emotional stress.

Curt Connors is a brilliant and idealistic man, a scientific genius bent on assuring a better future for humanity with his work; a loving father and husband, he’s a gentle and dedicated man who suffers for his physical handicap, but who managed to defeat his trauma. His reptilian alter ego, on the opposite, is a brutal and pitiless monster, driven by a deep hatred and disgust for mammals and humans in particular, who aims at restoring reptiles’ dominion over the planet and who recognizes strength as his only value. Lizard possesses vast amounts of superhuman strength, durability, speed and agility, he can stick to any kind of surface, he has heightened senses and an outstanding regenerative healing factor, as well as deploying sharp fangs and claws and a prehensile tail as useful tools in battle. He also shows some level of telepathic abilities, being able to control any kind of reptilian life in a wide range, and even to manipulate human brain’s reptilian complex, making people act on their lower instincts. Torn between a human personality who wants to help mankind and a reptilian one who seeks to destroy it, Curt Connors constantly struggles with Lizard for control, in a neverending battle that makes him an extremely dangerous threat to everyone around him.

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