It’s fair to say we’re pretty excited about the Venom film, but every time something new comes out about it, there are a load more rumours, everyone starts speculating wildly and a bunch of last week’s rumours and speculation become redundant. Here, then, is everything anyone needs to know about it, with links off to plenty more that you might or might not want to know about it…
Who or what is a Venom?
Tom Hardy will obviously be playing the character of Venom and his human counterpart Eddie Brock in the film but what the hell is the slimy goth spider-beast?
Well, Venom is a Marvel Comics character that originated as an enemy of Spider-Man. It’s a member of the Klyntar species, an alien which can only survive if it bonds with another organism. The Klyntar started out good, but after bonding with some increasingly poorly chosen organisms, became more and more unhinged. Venom is the first of them to hit Earth, courtesy of being brought back by your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man following a space battle. It bonded with him, acquiring some of his powers, then later bonded with disgruntled journalist (ha, as IF journalists are disgruntled!) Eddie Brock, who became one of Spider-Man’s most noteworthy adversaries.
What does Venom look like in the film?
It’s the one that looks like a goth, xxxxxxtreeeeme version of Spider-Man, all teeth and tongue and skin that’s like that of a newly born orca whale covered in mucus after being left to languish in the sun for an indeterminate length of time.
Quite a lot like this, in fact:
So will this film have Spider-Man in it?
Probably not. At least not for the time being anyway. Sure, it’s still (slightly) possible and Venom did appear briefly in Spider-Man 3 in 2007, but at present this is a standalone film. There were rumours of a brief appearance by Tom Holland’s Spider-Man (as seen in Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War) but they’ve been largely quashed.
Largely though this is down to which studios owns the rights to which characters – it took years of legal wrangling for Spider-Man to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because the rights to the webslinger were owned by Sony. Likewise, Fox owns the right to the X-Men. That’s what has led to the weird Quicksilver situation: Aaron Taylor-Johnson is playing the same character in Avengers: Age Of Ultron as Evan Peters is in the X-Men films. Quicksilver’s (and Scarlet Witch’s) father is Magneto, which would possibly come in really handy to the Avengers, but can’t be a thing. The word “mutant” is never used in the Avengers films, and characters who regularly share comic stories are forbidden from crossing big-screen paths – we’ve never seen Wolverine and Spidey team up, for instance.
The complex rights situation with Spider-Man, where Marvel is licensing its own character back from Sony to use in its films, makes it unlikely they’d waste their use of him on a cameo.
What is the plot for the film?
The main comic story that the film is based on is 1993’s Lethal Protector, in which Venom, following a truce with Spidey, is living peacefully in San Francisco when, wouldn’t you know it, everything goes wrong. He’s attacked by the son of one of his previous victims and hunted down by the Life Foundation, who want to use his symbiote to produce their own new ones. Obviously there’ll be changes for the film, like the omission of Spider-Man…
Who will be in the film?
Tom Hardy is paying Eddie Brock and Venom, doing a combination of live action, motion capture and voice acting, using a “lounge-lizard” voice for the alien symbiote. He’s got tonk as hell for it. Michelle Williams is playing Ann Weying, which could lead to something pretty interesting down the line which we’ve speculated about here. Riz Ahmed is Carlton Drake, as above. Jenny Slate as, if the trailer is anything to go by, a corporate whistleblower. Everyone else is either in as-yet-undisclosed roles, named Scott or not that famous: Woody Harrelson is probably playing Carnage but there’s no proof yet, Scott Haze, Reid Scott and Scott Deckert are all in there somewhere and have similar names, and so is Sope Aluko, who had a small part in Black Panther.
Is Venom a good guy or a bad guy?
Venom was definitely a baddie when first introduced, but has been heroic in some storylines, and is probably best described as an antihero. The 90s went antihero bonkers, yo (remember The Crow?). Director Ruben Fleischer has said, “There are no heroes in this movie”.
Who is the villain going to be?
Riz Ahmed is playing Carlton Drake, a brilliant scientist and billionaire with big ideas for the future of humanity and no desire to let anything get in their way. He’s a wrong’n! There’s also a chance Carnage will show up, heavily rumoured to be played by Woody Harrelson, but nobody’s actually seen anything to that effect just yet. The odds do look good though.
Does it join up with the other Marvel films?
Not right now. It’s made by Sony, rather than Marvel Studios - years and years of tedious legal battles and rights issues have led us here. It is therefore a standalone film on a separate timeline, but (depending on the box office) should end up being the beginning of the Sony Marvel Universe, leading to such spinoffs as Morbius The Living Vampire and Silver & Black. More speculation here.
Are the Venom comics any good?
Yeah! There have been some great storylines with the character over the years, as well as some really dodgy ones. Venom was used a bit like Wolverine for a while - thrown into any comic he could be in order to justify being on the cover looking badass as hell.
Some of the best stories over the years have included:
- Birth Of Venom: The origin story, which blew comic-readers’ minds. It’s like, Spider-Man but more so?
- Maximum Carnage: Serial killers x alien symbiotes, the collaboration nobody needed
- The Hunger: Venom eats everyone’s brains!
- Agent Venom: Using an alien symbiote as a government super-soldier really seems like a plan that couldn’t possibly go wrong, doesn’t it?
- Venomverse: Everyone is Venom. Captain America is Venom. Black Panther is Venom. Nobody isn’t Venom! Mad stuff.
Will there be a sequel?
Ruben Fleischer is certainly up for one, and if the movie gets the number it’s after, it seems like a dead cert - at the very least, it seems reasonable to expect the character (or others introduced in the film) to pop up in other Sony Marvel Universe films.
Speaking at ComicCon, Ruben Fleischer said: “We’ve definitely laid some groundwork for different directions that the franchise could go but obviously it all hinges on people’s excitement about this film”
“I hope people will stay and see what seeds have been planted.”
Which admittedly isn’t that different from hearing a professional footballer say that they’d “like to score a goal” but still - the idea of a potential Venom by Spider-Man smash-up further down the line is at least somewhat exciting. Plus, let’s face it, this film is probably going to be good, right? The signs so far say yes.
Is it gonna be quite violent and messed up?
It’s going to be extremely violent, yes. Proper people-being-torn-apart kind of stuff. Probably even swearing.
Are fans excited?
It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster - the first trailer had bugger-all Venom in it, which underwhelmed people, and there were rumours about the film being largely Venomless that bummed everyone out, but the nearer it gets to release, and the more juicy soundbites about being really violent, the more eagerly everyone is anticipating it.
Can I just watch the trailer?
Fill your boots!
And here’s another one, while you’re here:
When’s it out and what rating will it be?
Venom will be slinging his goth web all over the place from October 5th and is looking more and more likely every day that it will get an R rating (either a 15 or and 18 in the UK depending on various criteria such as swearing and violence).