In the first game's main storyline, he is the mayor of New York City. Under constant threat of attack, he hires Sable International to protect him, expanding their role so they can enact martial law when the prisoners from The Raft and Ryker's Island escape.
Norman Osborn was born in Hartford, Connecticut. At the age of 16, he lost both his parents, scientists Amberson and Martha Osborn, to a car crash, leaving him an orphan. As an adult, Norman became friends with Otto Octavius after being assigned as lab partners in college. The two went on to found Oscorp Industries, hoping to change the world. With Norman's natural charisma and Otto's scientific genius, Oscorp quickly became one of the top scientific corporations in the world. In the 1980s, Norman met and married an environmental attorney named Emily Lyman.
As Otto would reveal years later, Norman became increasingly obsessed with genetics, likely in response to Emily's diagnosis with Oshtoran Syndrome in 1984. It is presumed to be around this time that Norman ordered the development of GR-27, an experimental genetic therapy, in order to cure his wife's disorder. This began a rift in the relationship between Norman and Otto, with the latter considering the GR-27 project unethical.
In 1986, Norman had GR-27, which had earned the nickname "Devil's Breath" from the lab technicians, administered on then seven-year-old Martin Li, who had come to Oscorp with his parents for a medical consultation. The treatment went horribly wrong: Li somehow gained superhuman powers, causing an explosion that killed the boy's parents. The incident resulted in Otto quitting Oscorp, as well as ending his friendship with Norman. Otto would go on to start his own company, Octavius Industries.
Around 1995, Norman and Emily had a son named Harold (nicknamed "Harry"). Sadly, Emily succumbed to complications of Oshtoran Syndrome before Devil's Breath could be completed, around the year 2010. Harry inherited his mother's condition, and his condition began deteriorating as he entered adulthood. On July 18, 2017, Norman had Harry placed into a coma in order to buy time for Devil's Breath, and kept his son in a medical tank. To explain Harry's absence to the world, Norman claimed that Harry had instead gone to Europe to handle Oscorp's international holdings.
In 2014[a], Norman was elected Mayor of New York City, while still managing Oscorp as its CEO. During his tenure as Mayor, Norman carried out many of his promised initiatives, from an environmental research program to a city-wide crime monitoring system.
Despite previous claims to have no active part in the managing of Oscorp, Norman still has close ties to the company and is able to control their actions. He is first seen in person at Octavius Industries using the latest accident at Otto's lab as an excuse to have his grant funding revoked and try to confiscate all materials and research. He tells Otto through a thinly veiled ultimatum that he can have access to funds and equipment to continue his research if he returns to Oscorp.
With an election nearing, Norman attempted to capitalize on the heroism of police officer Jefferson Davis by awarding him at his campaign rally. The rally initially went smoothly, but took an abrupt turn for the worse. After sending a threatening call to Osborn, Martin Li and his gang the Inner Demons attacked the rally, killing 27 (including Davis) and injuring 58. Norman was unharmed, having fled the scene just before the attack started, but faked hospitalization . He was present at Davis's funeral a week later.
To handle the increasingly brazen Inner Demons, Norman hired Sable International ostensibly, this was to bolster the New York police (who were understaffed due to a number of officers being caught working for Fisk), but was done for the added benefit of protecting Oscorp from either the Demons or the police. As the Inner Demons continued to ravage New York, and Sable's heavy-handed tactics upset the populus, Norman's previously stellar ratings began to drop. After being warned by Fisk that the Inner Demons knew about Devil's Breath, he revealed the project to Sable's leader Silver Sable to relay the severity of the situation.
Li was eventually defeated by Spider-Man, and Norman swiftly moved to claim credit for stopping the incident. However, within hours, the situation devolved into Norman's worst nightmare; Otto, having been pushed over the edge by Norman's depravity and inspired by Li's actions, stole the Devil's Breath and launched prison breaks in both Ryker's and the Raft before releasing the Devil's Breath in Times Square. Much to Norman's fury, Oscorp's role as the creator of Devil's Breath was leaked to the press via the Daily Bugle.
Norman quickly enacted martial law, quarantining Manhattan to keep the sickness contained and ordering development of a cure. He publicly blamed Spider-Man for the entire disaster and branded him a fugitive. Over the following two days, Norman's popularity plummeted as the situation spiraled out of control, compounded by Sable's excessive (and generally misdirected) use of force. By the time the Devil's Breath antiserum was complete, Norman, fed up with Sable's failures, insisted on going alone to the GR-27 facility to supervise antiserum production. This would prove a grave mistake: Norman's helicopter was shot down by the Inner Demons, who dragged him into the facility to watch Li take the only supply of antiserum. Spider-Man intervened just below Norman is to be executed and defeats Li, only for Doctor Octopus to arrive and capture Norman himself. Norman was dragged to the top of Oscorp Tower, where Otto demanded his former partner to confess to his crimes. Norman refused, instead calling Otto a failure who only had worth beneath him. He was promptly dropped from the tower by a furious Otto, but was saved from falling to his death by Spider-Man. Norman retreated to safety as Spider-Man went to confront Otto.
Within three months of Doctor Octopus's defeat, Norman has resigned as mayor, his reputation ruined by the Devil's Breath crisis, and he retreats from the public eye. Meanwhile, Oscorp stock plummets. He is seen in his secret lab, looking at his son Harry. Expressing his disappointment that Devil's Breath is no longer an option, Norman promises that he will find the cure. However, as he puts his hand on Harry's medical tank, he fails to notice the black substance inside the tank mimic his movement and move towards him, seemingly alive.
He appears after the end of the game. In his lab, he tells Curt Connors to get his son, Harry Osborn, out of the container. Despite Curt's warnings, Norman angrily insisted, which made Curt agree.
Norman is an older man with graying red-brown hair. In spite of his age, he has a fairly athletic physique. He is typically dressed in a suit with a green, pinstripe jacket, orange vest, and black pants with black shoes. During Officer Jefferson Davis' funeral, he wears an all-black suit with a knee length coat.
Norman is a selfish, ruthless, arrogant, and corrupt businessman, craftily disguised behind a political mask. He usually lies very often to hide his crimes, with this characteristic being one of the reasons that many of his rivals, such as Otto Octavius and Martin Li, hated him. A man of considerable wealth, he often spends money illegally for his own interests and abuses his position, violating citizens' rights to hire a private military group in place of the PDNY or carry out clandestine experiments. Norman has a powerful self-righteous streak, refusing to accept responsibility for his mistakes.
Despite his ruthless nature, he deeply loves his son and deeply loved his deceased wife, and possibly cares about those close to him or his family. It is revealed that his desire to perform genetic experiments are not for his own selfish needs, but so that he can find a cure for his ill son.
Abilities and Equipment
The co-founder and CEO of Oscorp, Norman specializes in scientific pioneering. He is recognized for his technological innovations in the field of medical science. Norman is also a business and political mastermind, having transformed his company into a multibillion-dollar multinational corporation in addition to being elected the Mayor of New York City.
With his immensely large fortune, Norman is able to employ cutting-edge research facilities that secretly develop the methods to rehabilitate his ill son, as well as hire the services of Silver Sable's elite task force. Norman has also developed and has access to technologies which are deemed ahead of their time, such as experimental regenerative nanotechnology, experimental focus enhancers, and small, highly accurate missiles on display at Grand Central Station. Of particular note are his plans for a small drone/glider for the purposes of carrying medical supplies into war zones. Additionally, he has a working prototype for a combat helmet which can see structural weaknesses, and small grenade-like prototypes in his penthouse.
Norman's unmatched political gamesmanship, natural charisma, and high social confidence enable him to masterfully appeal to popular desires and prejudices when addressing people, often championing the cause of the common people and gaining their support. He is quick to use various events throughout the city towards advancing his political career, such as organizing an award ceremony for Officer Davis after the latter is lauded for his heroism, which is really only to boost Norman's re-election campaign.
Harry Osborn is Norman's only son. While Harry loves his father, he is aware of Norman's controlling and dishonest tendencies, although his love for Harry is genuine. Norman's desperation to save his son caused him to continue the development of Devil's Breath, ignoring the obvious risks of a pandemic. Even in dealings with his son regarding Oscorp's research stations, which Harry cared about deeply as they were his way to honor his mother, Norman's focus was on how the results could benefit Oscorp rather than the greater good they could do.
Norman met Martin Li as a child when he came to Oscorp for a medical consultation. Norman authorized usage of the GR-27 prototype, which caused the accident which gave Li his powers and killed his parents. As a result, his treatment led to Martin Li becoming Mister Negative with plans to take Norman down using his Inner Demons. Even after being confronted directly by Mister Negative, Norman insists that what happened was an accident and that he was trying to help him, although his pleas fall on deaf ears.
Norman and Otto Octavius met as lab partners during college. They became close friends, and went on to found Oscorp together. Their relationship was labeled by the media as "the friendship re-shaping our world". Otto would eventually leave the company following Martin Li's accident, after which Norman would take credit for Otto's work and overshadow Otto's achievements, forcing Otto to rely on grants and ultimately triggering his transformation into Doctor Octopus. However, as indicated by a photo found in his apartment, Norman still valued his relationship with Otto until the latter's turn to crime, and his efforts were likely an ill-conceived attempt to reach out to his former friend.
Spider-Man (Peter Parker)
While Norman's personal feelings towards Spider-Man prior to the Devil's Breath are unclear (aside from never condoning the superhero), he develops a grudge against him during the Devil's Breath crisis. He used his authority to brand Spider-Man an enemy of the people, and made him a priority target of Sable: he does not change his position even after being saved twice by the web-slinger. Norman has a particular interest in Spider-Man's powers: his lab contains several modified spiders that are attempts to replicate, if not build of, Spider-Man's abilities. One such spider would find its way to Miles Morales, lending to the rise of a second Spider-Man.
Norman appears to be unaware of Spider-Man's identity as Peter Parker, whom he acknowledges as one of Harry's closest friends.
- In real life, mayoral elections in New York are run every four years, with a maximum of two consecutive terms per mayor (although a mayor may run for a third term after the next election). Assuming the election system functions the same in-universe (excluding the different year for election cycles), Norman would become mayor of New York in 2015.