Comics on Film: Getting to Know Venom

Comics on Film: Getting to Know Venom

Oct 27, 2017

In the past, this column has spoken in...critical terms about Sony Pictures' ongoing desire to create movies based on the world of Marvel Comics icon Spider-Man, especially when they want to do so without the Webslinger himself. As one of the absolute richest superheroes in comics on top of being, arguably, Marvel's most consistently popular character, exploiting his supporting cast without making specific use of the primary hero himself seems a bit shortsighted.

Be that as it may, that's far from meaning that Spidey's supporting characters can't make for solid characters of focus in their own spin-off efforts. Probably one of the most interesting and multi-dimensional members of Spider-Man's rogues' gallery is Venom, and in less than a year we're going to be treated to a film specifically based on him.

So...who is this guy? How do we know that he can carry his own movie?

 

In the Comics: Eddie Brock, the Symbiote and Spider-Man

The villain who would come to be known as Venom began life as Eddie Brock, making his first appearance in 1986's Web of Spider-Man #18 by writer David Micheline and artist Todd McFarlane. Growing up in a Catholic household and driven to a career in journalism in an attempt to prove himself to his abusive father, Eddie works his way up as a beat writer for a rival newspaper to the Daily Bugle, where photographer Peter Parker often sold his pictures of Spider-Man.

After writing an expose on a man who confesses to the crimes of a notorious killer, Brock is revealed as a fool when Spider-Man ends up capturing the real killer. This causes Eddie to both lose his job and to resent Spider-Man, seeking revenge against him.

At an earlier point, Spider-Man had been bonded to a new costume that he eventually realized was a parasitic alien symbiote that attempted to permanently graft itself to him. Realizing that the symbiote had a weakness to sound, Spider-Man uses the giant bells in a Catholic church's tower to rid himself of the creature, which ended up lurking there for a while after Spidey got it off.

It was in this church that Eddie went to try and find guidance, when the symbiote sensed his anguish and forcefully bonded to him, making Eddie its new host. Feeling his rage towards Spider-Man, the symbiote (having been attached to Spidey before) grants Eddie powers that are equal to Spidey's, while adding his own raw strength to the equation. After bonding to Eddie, the symbiote also imparts knowledge of Spider-Man's true identity to the new villainous force that would arise from Brock's union with the symbiote: Venom.

Over the years, the Venom symbiote has been hosted by a number of other individuals, but Brock still remains the most classic incarnation of Venom (and Anti-Venom!). He would go on to be reimagined in the 1990's as more of an antihero than a straight villain, demonstrating devotion to a moral code and actually making peace with Spider-Man. Whether it's protecting homeless people on the streets of San Francisco, or teaming with Spidey to combat an even deadlier, crazy fusion of man and symbiote in Carnage, Venom — and Eddie Brock specifically — has demonstrated a vibrant character history and a character with a great deal of inner turmoil, someone who's interesting to see whether he's standing next to, or across from, Spider-Man.

 

How the Movie Is Shaping Up

In a previous report here at Movies.com by Christopher Campbell, we already showed you the first released photo from the production of the film and laid out all the major players. Tom Hardy is the star of next October's film, making for his second major foray into comic book cinema after his memorable turn as DC Comics villain Bane in Christopher Nolan's Batman finale, The Dark Knight Rises. Hardy was also originally slated to play Rick Flag in David Ayer's Suicide Squad, but had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts that saw Joel Kinnaman replace him in that film.

Zombieland's Ruben Fleischer will be in the director's chair, but beyond these basic details, little is known about what the film will actually be. Some mysterious double talk from studio personnel has made its connection to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe hard to nail down, but the signs seem to be pointing to the movie residing in its own universe. Time will, of course, tell.

With a solid cast surrounding Hardy, including Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed, we'll be watching the ultimate development of Venom very closely in the months leading up to its release. Venom is slated to be released on October 5, 2018.


Chris Clow is a comic book expert and former retailer, and a writer with work having appeared in the Huffington Post, Fandango and others. He also hosts the podcasts Discovery Debrief: A Star Trek PodcastGeekPulse Radio and Comics on Consoles. You can find his weekly Comics on Film column every week here at Movies.com, and you can follow along on Twitter @ChrisClow.

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