Harry is one of Peter Parker's high school classmates practically his only friend, who resents the fact that his father spends more time at his job than being with him and seems to understand the brilliant Peter is better than him. This is evident when Norman learns that Peter is able to understand his nanotechnology papers, wins the science award, as well as expresses his desire to make his own way in the world. Harry is constantly trying to live up to his father's expectations, including trying to make girlfriend M.J. look stunning. He decides to date Mary Jane despite his knowledge of Peter's interest in her and fails to tell him. Later, he says that Peter never made a move. In the past, Harry protected Peter from bullying and Peter tutored him in science. After graduation, Harry's father gets them a loft apartment next to the university. Early in the movie, Peter becomes Spider-Man and Norman becomes the host of Green Goblin, but Harry remains unaware that the two are his best friend and his father. As he is growing more terrified of the Green Goblin persona, Norman begs Harry for forgiveness for not being a good father and the two reconcile somewhat after Harry's break-up with M.J..
However, the Green Goblin is killed by his own glider after attempting to kill Spider-Man. Following Norman's last wish to not let Harry know about his villainous split-personality, Spider-Man removes the Goblin's costume and returns Norman's body to the Osborn mansion. Harry, seeing Spider-Man carrying Norman's body, assumes that Spider-Man has murdered his father. Harry grabs a gun from a drawer, but Spider-Man leaves before Harry can react. At Norman's funeral, a brooding Harry tells Peter that Spider-Man will pay for the death of his father. In the film interpretation, Harry is more of an odd duck who lacks the popularity that he had in the comics. He is also more angry and bitter in his relationship with his father, though the two begin rebuilding their relationship before Norman's death.
Harry takes over his late father's career but his business and unresolved resentment towards Peter, who he feels is siding with Spider-Man rather than him, cause him to slowly spiral into alcoholism. His vendetta against Spider-Man brings him into alliance with Doctor Octopus, whom Harry had funded in his research back when Ock was the innocent scientist, Doctor Otto Octavius. Harry agrees to supply Ock with the tritium that he needs for his experiments if the villain will hunt down and deliver Spider-Man. After a long battle, Spider-Man is brought before Harry, keeping his word by giving up the tritium, who prepares to kill Spider-Man with a dagger. Before he does so, however, he removes Spider-Man's mask and is shocked to see Peter's face. A dazed Peter Parker regains consciousness and he convinces Harry to let him go and rescue Mary Jane Watson.
Later, a confused Harry hallucinates, seeing his father's image in a mirror, demanding that Harry avenges him. Harry shatters the mirror, only to find his father's hidden lair, with the Green Goblin equipment within. The scene starts with Harry going through a spooky and empty walkway. He runs into the Goblin mask and is terrified until he backs up into the shelves holding pumpkin bombs, realizing that his father was the Green Goblin. He turns and sees the serum that made his father the Green Goblin. He steps out of the shadows as he walks closer to the Goblin Glider with the Green Goblin's theme playing and the camera zooming back. His last appearance in the movie is at Mary Jane's wedding ceremony, being the only guest wearing a green bow tie, during which she runs away for Peter.
Later, Harry becomes a supervillain, as well as later, a superhero. Though remaining unnamed throughout the film, this new villain is credited as the New Goblin and is jokingly referred to by Peter Parker as "Little Goblin junior". The New Goblin wears a dark costume with some green features. In contrast to the Green Goblin costume worn by his father (while under the Green Goblin's control), which was intended to, among other things, terrorize people in general, Harry wears a more streamlined suit that is not meant to terrorize anyone, as well as is constructed for the sole purpose of defeating and killing Spider-Man. He doesn't wear a demonic-looking mask like his father (while under the Green Goblin's control), but retractable facial gear consisting of a pair of reflective green goggles and a green mouthpiece, similar to a paint-ball mask.
After an intense battle with Spider-Man, Harry Osborn is knocked out and given amnesia to the point where he doesn't recall Peter being responsible for his father's death. As such, the two work on rekindle their old friendship. However, when Mary Jane and Peter have difficulties in their relationship, she goes to Harry to be friends. Although they kiss, Mary Jane does not want to have a relationship with Harry. Visions of Norman Osborn persist, forcing Harry to remember. Taking Norman's advice of attacking the heart, Harry attempts to destroy Peter and M.J.'s relationship by blackmailing M.J. to dump Peter and claim that Harry is dating her. Otherwise, Peter will die. This leads to yet another brutal fight with Peter (currently under the Symbiote's influence) at his mansion, which ends with Peter mocking Harry on his persona and his relationship with his father. In retaliation, Harry throws a pumpkin bomb towards Peter, but Peter anticipates this, redirecting the bomb at Harry with his webbing. The resulting explosion mutilates the right side of Harry's face.
After Sandman and Venom, the later who had Spider-Man's Symbiote costume which Peter rejected for his terrible deeds and went to Eddie Brock Jr., kidnap Mary Jane to force Spider-Man into action, Peter goes to the disfigured Harry for help. Harry at first refuses, but once his butler informs him that he knew all along that Norman's death was a result of his own weaponry and not due to Spider-Man, he goes to help Spider-Man rescue Mary Jane. In the ensuing conflict, Harry is impaled and fatally wounded with his own glider by Venom, sacrificing himself to save Peter. As he died, Peter, whom just forgave Sandman for accidentally killing his uncle two years earlier, as well as Harry finally forgive each other, with Harry telling him that Peter's his best friend. Peter and Mary Jane attend Harry's funeral together, heartbroken, as well as they begin fixing their relationship which Harry broke (in a misguided attempt to avenge his father's death).
Powers and Abilities
- After exposing himself to the Human-Enhancer Formula, Harry gained superhuman strength, agility, reflexes, durability, stamina, senses, as well as healing, all comparable to Spider-Man himself:
- Supernatural Strength
- Peak Human Durability
- Supernatural Stamina
- Supernatural agility: Harry was made extremely agile by the Formula, he was able able to throw Peter around, in spins and twists.
- Healing Factor
Prior to consuming the formula, Harry possessed the strength of a normal man of his age, height and build, but after consuming the formula, Harry gained Supernatural Strength, that is comparable to that of Spider-Man, which would put him under the 13 ton range.
- Retractable arm blades, Ionic Sword, pumpkin bombs, razor bats, rockets, a flame-thrower, as well as two razor-sharp spikes
- The New Goblin rides a hi-tech snowboard-shaped glider called the Sky Stick, which also goes unnamed in the film.
- James Franco portrays Harry Osborn in all three films of the Spider-Man trilogy.
- Sam Raimi originally planned for Harry to become the Hobgoblin, as in the Ultimate Universe, but was dissuaded by Sony.