To be able to manipulate radioactive substances, Otto Octavius created a device with four tentacle-like, mechanical arms. I've not read the original comic books, but I've seen Spider-Man 2. The Marvel Wikia page on Otto Octavius doesn't fully agree with the film, but both involve accidents. Considering the risk involved, why did he not use remote controlled robots instead? The device itself is not responsible for what happened, but using robots, he could have overseen from a safer location, and since he's depicted as a genius, he surely would have been able to create robot-like machines (though he might have called them something else), even in 1963 (when, according to the wiki, he first appeared).

The out-of-universe reason is most likely that without the tentacles, he wouldn't be Doctor Octopus.

I'm looking for an in-universe explanation. Preferably an explanation given in a published story, but in-universe explanations given by Stan Lee or Steve Ditko or Marvel Comics in interviews or published without being part of a specific story plot are also welcome. If there are different explanations over retcons and reboots, all of them are of interest, but mostly I'm looking for what happened originally.

  • @CreationEdge I didn't notice those tags. But I would like to point out that while my first contact with Doc Ock was in Spider-Man 2, an explanation from the original comic book incarnation is of more interest.
    – user68965
    Mar 14, 2017 at 5:08
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    That should be enough now, then. I misread your your last paragraph, thinking you wanted in-universe for the movie only
    – user31178
    Mar 14, 2017 at 5:16
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    But then he wouldn't be called Doc Ock :) Mar 14, 2017 at 5:31
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    Maybe the remote interface would introduce too much latency?
    – Tin Wizard
    Mar 14, 2017 at 19:00
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    "and since he's depicted as a genius, he surely would have been able to think about robot-like machines" At the same time, since he is depicted as a genius, he doesn't think he'll screw up. Certainly not badly enough to need the extra safety precautions. The world's best driver isn't going to develop automated cars for safety, either.
    – Shane
    Mar 14, 2017 at 19:52

3 Answers 3


In the 2003 comic Doctor Octopus: Negative Exposure, Octavious reveals this to nobody in particular (unless you count DaVinci's ghost who isn't there).

DaVinci's Vitruvian Man greatly inspired him, and he sought to emulate what he saw as eight appendages.

Using a bunch of remote controlled tentacles not attached to him by a harness would hardly resemble the drawing, now would it?

As I was saying, it was this, your seminal sketch, "Proportional Study of Man in the Manner of Vitruvius," which forever changed my life.

Your perfect human specimen, with his eight gloriously symmetrical appendages, inspired my humble contribution to the world of invention.

Vitruvian Man

The spitting image of DaVinci's work

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    Unfortunately it is hard to tell whether this was his reasoning at the time - when he was sane - or his personal justification so long afterwards...
    – Weckar E.
    Mar 14, 2017 at 23:57
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    This is a retcon from his original appearance back in the 60s, but I really don't mind since the original reason was "he just felt like making giant arms". Mar 15, 2017 at 1:31

This was addressed in the official novelisation for Spider-Man 2. In short, Doc Ock was sick and tired of not having enough hands. They were inspired, it seems, by the humble octopus.

Octavius loved the design he had created for the arms. It had come to him one day after a visit to the Coney Island Aquarium: the answer to the endless frustration of trying to perform experiments and wishing one had more hands at one’s disposal. Thanks to the four actuators—which, he had to admit, sounded like the name of a singing group—a scientist could have all the hands he reasonably needed. And they weren’t even the main invention he’d developed. They were merely tools he would use to help get the fusion generator started up.

Spider-Man 2: Official Novelisation

  • An upvote for this. It's certainly interesting. However, the checkmark remains with phantom42.
    – user68965
    Mar 14, 2017 at 17:10
  • @DuaneDibbley - I felt it addressed your concerns about the film
    – Valorum
    Mar 14, 2017 at 17:17
  • It did. And that is indeed good. But the origin of the idea is still more interesting.
    – user68965
    Mar 14, 2017 at 17:25
  • That's actually also the reason I deduced from the movie itself - maybe he did say something along that wish as well.
    – Zommuter
    Mar 15, 2017 at 8:30

In the 2005 5-issue miniseries Doctor Octopus: Year One, we learn Otto had been raised in the nuclear era, and thus, as a brilliant child, dreamed of bringing nuclear energy to the forefront, leaving coal behind. Somehow, this fascination became something akin to love, and so he created the arms, attaching them to his nervous system, in order to give himself the ability to feel radiation as basically a 6th sense.

I recognize that I am extremely late to the party, but as an amateur Doc Ock fan, I think I can answer this. phantom42 answered this partially, but I believe his source may have been expanded on, as his was published in 2003, and mine was 2005.

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    “as an amateur Doc Ock fan” — are there... professional fans of Doctor Octopus? Dec 10, 2020 at 22:27

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