This week Sony releases the Spider-Man spinoff film, Venom. Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man and his vast library of supporting characters and villains. This film is the first attempt at expanding their own Spider-Man Cinematic Universe. As of now the film doesn’t connect to the Spider-Man we’ve seen in the MCU played by Tom Holland. So who is Venom, and what makes him worthy of his own film? Diving into the history of the character today, we’re looking at his comic book background and where he’s been seen before.
The story of Venom starts with a Marvel comic book crossover called Secret Wars. Secret Wars is a storyline created to help sell toys after Mattel made a deal with Marvel to sell action figures based on their characters. The storyline features Marvel heroes and villains transported to another planet called Battleworld where a villain named the Beyonder makes them fight one another. Spider-Man’s suit is ruined in battle and he uses a machine that can fabricate any type of clothing to get a new suit. The machine produces a black sphere that bonds to Spider-Man and gives him an all-black suit with a white spider emblem on the chest.
Spider-Man continues to use the suit after the Secret Wars storyline until he realizes that the suit was a sentient alien, a Symbiote, who wanted to permanently bond to Peter Parker. It would take over his body at night and use his body to fight crime, leaving him exhausted when he awoke each morning. Peter eventually realized the Symbiote was using him for evil purposes, and expelled it from his body using church bells. The Symbiote’s weaknesses being fire and high sonic energy.
Brock, a reporter who exposes the identity of a serial killer only for the real serial killer to be caught by Spider-Man, becomes depressed and suicidal after being blacklisted from the journalism industry. Brock goes to a church pleading with God, coincidentally the same church where Peter Parker was able to remove the Symbiote. Sensing Brock’s hatred for Spider-Man, the Symbiote bonds to Brock and Brock uses the power of the Symbiote to become Venom. As time goes on Venom/Eddie Brock, would go back and forth between straight up villain to anti-hero. At times he helps take on different villains Including Carnage (another Symbiote villain).
After first being captured by Spider-Man, the Venom symbiote is presumed dead, and Eddie Brock is sent to jail. When the Symbiote comes to and reattaches itself to Eddie to help him escape it leaves behind a spawn in Eddie’s cell. This spawn attaches itself to Eddie’s serial killer cell-mate Cletus Kasady. Kasady then becomes the villain known as Carnage. A much more vicious, murderous, and evil version of Venom. Venom and Spider-Man work together frequently over the years to help take down Carnage.
Early in Venom’s comic history, Eddie Brock is sent to jail and escapes with the goal to kill Peter Parker’s parents (they come back to life for a bit, long story.) In the ensuing fight with Spider-Man, Eddie’s ex-wife Anne Weying is saved by Spider-Man before being crushed by a ferris wheel. This causes Eddie to make peace with Spider-Man, and he decides to move to San Francisco. In San Francisco he helps protect the homeless and rewrite his course, but is eventually taken captive by the Life Foundation. The Life Foundation, led by Carlton Drake, removes the symbiote from Eddie and produces five spawns, Phage, Riot, Scream, Lasher and Agony. Eddie eventually becomes Venom again and works with Spider-Man to seemingly destroy the spawns. But as we all know, no comic book villains ever truly die.
The Venom Symbiote has at times attached to other characters in the Spider-Man world beyond Peter Parker and Eddie Brock. At one point in time it attached to Anne Weying, Eddie’s ex-wife, and she took up the title of She Venom. For a decent amount of time it attached itself to Mac Gargan aka the Scorpion. Gargan takes up the mantle of Venom for a few years until he is captured and sent to prison and the symbiote is forcefully removed. Frequent Spider-Man adversary Flash Thompson also becomes a host to the symbiote and uses it for good. Thompson even joins the Guardians of the Galaxy for a small amount of time. A handful of other characters bonds with the symbiote, but none of them have been as substantial as Brock, Gargan, Weying and Thompson.
In TV and Film
Venom is featured in nearly every animated series featuring Spider-Man since the 1990’s cartoon. In that time he is voiced by a plethora of great actors including Hank Azaria, Danny Trejo, and Dee Bradley Baker. Venom is also featured in the Spider-Man 3 film, with Topher Grace (That 70’s Show) portraying the Eddie Brock version of the character. Many fans were disappointed by this portrayal of the character as Grace has a much smaller frame than the usually large and muscular villain. They were also disappointed that Venom is used as a sort of secondary villain in the film, with Sandman being the primary antagonist.
There have been multiple attempts at Venom solo films since Spider-Man 3. David S. Goyer who wrote Batman Begins, was developing a solo Venom film before Spider-Man 3. At one point Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (Deadpool) were signed on to write script for a Venom film that would be a spin-off from the original Spider-Man films. Josh Trank, the writer director of Chronicle, was in talks to direct a film that would be a spinoff from the Amazing Spider-Man film series. But when that series fell apart, so did the Venom film and a few other spinoff projects.
The upcoming Venom film features Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and is said to pull heavily from the Lethal Protector Storyline and a storyline called Planet of the Symbiotes which focuses on Venom and Spider-Man fighting an army of symbiotes that are invading Earth. In the film Eddie uncovers secret experiments being done by the Life Foundation and in the process of investigating gets bonded with the symbiote. The film is expected to feature the Venom spawns Riot, Lasher, Agony, Phage and Scream. Michelle Williams is portraying Anne Weying and this version sees her as a district attorney and Eddie’s current girlfriend. Riz Ahmed is portraying Carlton Drake, the head of the Life Foundation. Woody Harrelson has also been cast in the film in an undisclosed role, with many believing he is portraying Cletus Kasady, setting the character up to return in a sequel as Carnage.
Keep following Poor Man’s Spoiler for all of our coverage of Venom. And be sure to see Venom when it hits theaters on October 5th.