The young Russian boy who would one day become the Chameleon was the stepson of the Red Skull, who developed a utility belt which allowed his stepson to change his physical appearance into a duplicate of another, after capturing an image of that person. Some time after training him to use this device, Red Skull was trapped in a vortex during a battle with Captain America and preserved for fifty years, while his stepson became an international criminal known as the Chameleon.
When the Chameleon was hired by an international organization to assassinate two diplomats at a U.N. conference, Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. discovered the plot and contacted J. Jonah Jameson, warning him to be aware that the Chameleon may try to infiltrate the Daily Bugle. The Chameleon, while trying to carry out the assassination, was defeated by Spider-Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. He was subsequently incarcerated in a high security prison.
The Chameleon was broken out of prison on orders from the Kingpin, along with several other villains who had previously been defeated by Spider-Man, forming the Insidious Six. However, the six disbanded after failing to eliminate Spider-Man.
The Chameleon later worked for the Kingpin's son, Richard Fisk, framing Peter Parker for stealing restricted government information. However, Parker's name was cleared and Richard and Chameleon were taken into custody, the Chameleon being incarcerated in S.H.I.E.L.D. Shortly before being apprehended, the Chameleon was infused with a techno-organic virus by Dr. Herbert Landon, making him part-machine and thus able to use his morphing ability without the utility belt. This allowed the Kingpin to use the Chameleon to break John Hardesky from S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, in order for the crime lord to acquire the Super-Soldier Formula.
The Kingpin later decided to band the Insidious Six together again and the other five members broke the Chameleon from S.H.I.E.L.D. once more. The Six's task was to acquire the Doomsday weapon which would allow the Kingpin to conquer the world. However, the Chameleon betrayed the crime lord and joined forces with his stepfather, the Red Skull, after he escaped the vortex, as well as his stepbrother, Rheinholt Kragov. The alleged Doomsday Weapon turned out to be a suit which would allow one to control electricity, and Rheinholdt became Electro, betraying his father and stepbrother, hoping to take over the world alone. In the end, Electro and Red Skull, along with Captain America, were trapped in the vortex again and Chameleon escaped.
A variety of pistols.
- The character appeared in Spider-Man: The Animated Series.
- The Chameleon has no spoken lines in his true form. Spider-Man: The Animated Series writer and producer John Semper has stated that this is a conscious decision because he couldn't imagine the Chameleon ever running the risk of using his real voice which could possibly reveal his real identity.