Ever since Spider-Man 3's release, Sony Pictures has had a Venom movie in some form of development. The project came close to getting off the ground when the Amazing Spider-Man series was planning to expand, but after those plans collapsed, it seemed like Venom was once again on ice. Then 2017 happened, and seemingly out of nowhere, Sony announced that it was fast-tracking a Venom movie after a year of no updates.
Now Venom joins the growing ranks of superhero movies that turn the tables and focus on villains/anti-heroes, like The Punisher, Suicide Squad, Black Adam, Gotham City Sirens and the Doctor Doom movie. It also sounds like Sony is taking extra care to deliver a Venom to audiences this year who is more faithful to the source material, though there will be several key differences between this new live-action iteration and his comic book counterpart. With Venom looking like it will be one of the more intriguing blockbusters of 2018, here are all the important details that have been released about the project so far. Let's start with the most recent, intrigue and violence-filled trailer, shall we?
Whoa! While the first trailer didn't actually show us even a hint of Tom Hardy as Venom, this one not only answers some story questions, but finally gives fans a full look at the supervillain/anti-hero. Now, let's move on to all the info we've been able to gather about the film!
What Is Venom's Release Date?
Venom will be released in theaters on October 5, 2018. This is an odd month to release a superhero film, but as Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Logan and others have taught us, a movie in this genre doesn't have to be released in the summer or the November/December season for it to be successful. Plus, since Venom is intended to feel more like a horror movie than a straightforward superhero flick, releasing it outside the usual blockbuster season may help it stand out even more. Currently, Venom only has competition on that opening weekend in the form of the Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga remake of A Star Is Born, meaning it should have the market cornered on those who want to watch a dude who's been taken over by an alien eat some bad guys.
What Is Venom's Rating?
As mentioned earlier, Venom will have a horror tilt, which is fitting, since Venom is one of the scarier Marvel comics villains. With extra frights comes extra violence, and when paired together, they usually equal an R rating. And, while director Ruben Fleischer had said he wanted the movie to comfortably rest in that adult territory, the lure of easily getting young butts in seats led the film to be cut in a way that would allow for a PG-13 rating. Tom Hardy, for one, has said that he thinks this was a good move, and that the film was still able to double down on the character's scarier traits and violent tendencies. But, he's also made it known that he'd love the sequel to be able to go way darker, and fully embrace an R rating, much like Deadpool and Logan. Potential Spider-Man cameo be damned.
Ruben Fleischer is taking the reins on Venom, and he has plenty of experience in both the horror and action realms. Fleischer is best known for directing the horror comedy Zombieland, which came out two years before The Walking Dead TV series hit the scene. In 2011, he reunited with Jesse Eisenberg to direct 30 Minutes or Less, and two years later he helmed Gangster Squad. Venom marks Fleischer's first feature-length directorial project since Gangster Squad, but he's also been keeping himself busy on television by executive producing and directing episodes of Superstore, American Housewife and The Santa Clarita Diet. If Fleischer can pull off the same kind of unique genre melding with Venom that he did with Zombieland, then this will be a movie that can be enjoyed just as much by comic book fans as by horror fans. Fleischer has also said that Venom will be inspired by the works of David Cronenberg and John Carpenter.
What Is The Story Of Venom?
In January of 2018, Ruben Fleischer revealed that the story for Venom would actually be based on two comic stories that the character starred in. One is Lethal Protector, a six-issue miniseries which ran in 1993. In this series, Eddie Brock moves to San Francisco after telling Spider-Man that he would give up his Venom-filled life of crime. While there, though, his past comes back to haunt him when the father of one of his victims hires mercenaries to kill him. This caused a commotion which drew Spider-Man to the city, and he and Venom eventually had to face off against five of the Venom symbiote's offspring.
The second story is Planet of the Symbiotes, which ran in 1995. Eddie finally realized how much the symbiote was corrupting him, and managed to drive it out. But, this pissed the alien off so much that it called to a nearby spaceship filled with symbiotes to attack the Earth. This story features Carnage, as well as the five symbiotes from Lethal Protector.
Something that's confirmed in the most recent trailer is the fact that at least one symbiote will come from outer space, as we see the symbiote being taken from the wreckage of a crashed ship in the opening moments. The trailer also tells us that we'll follow Eddie Brock as he investigates The Life Foundation, which has obtained the creature and is using the symbiote to experiment on people and try to force human evolution. Obviously, that's going to go badly, and when Eddie is accidentally joined to the Venom symbiote, he's going to be fighting agents of the foundation to stay safe and, possibly, keep others who have joined with symbiotes from causing deadly trouble all over the city.
Tom Hardy will play Eddie Brock/Venom in the Venom movie. Hardy is no stranger to the world of comic book media, having previously played Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and being attached to lead the 100 Bullets movie. Hardy was also supposed to play Rick Flagg in Suicide Squad, but he had to bow out due to scheduling conflicts, and he was replaced by Joel Kinnaman. Hardy is the second actor to play Venom in live action, preceded by Topher Grace in 2007's Spider-Man 3. Well, third if you count Ryan Kwanten's performance in the fan made short film Truth in Journalism.
While several individuals have become Venom in the comics over the decades, including Mac Gargan (better known as the Scorpion) and Flash Thompson (Peter Parker's bully-turned-friend who went by Agent Venom), Eddie is the one who's most associated with the name.
Eddie was introduced in 1986's Web of Spider-Man #18, and in his early appearances, he was a reporter for The Daily Globe. Eddie thought he finally found his journalistic break when he started looking into the serial killer known as The Sin-Eater. During his investigation, Eddie was contacted by a man named Emil Gregg, who claimed to be the Sin-Eater. After speaking with Gregg and finding what he thought was evidence to support Gregg's claim, Eddie wrote up an expose that revealed the killer's identity. However, soon after it was revealed that Gregg wasn't the real Sin-Eater, as Spider-Man had caught the real killer. Eddie was instantly fired from his job, and his already emotionally distant father cut off communication with him entirely.
Eddie blamed Spider-Man for what happened, and one night, he found himself at a church where he wrestled with his hatred for the superhero and whether or not he should kill himself. Coincidentally, this was the same church where Spider-Man was trying to rid himself of the alien symbiote that was trying to take over his body. Peter Parker was able to use the church's bells to free himself from the symbiotes' hold, as intense sounds are one of its weaknesses. But the symbiote didn't go without a new host for long, as it quickly attached itself to the emotionally wrecked Eddie, and when they joined together, Venom was born.
Thanks to the symbiote's time with Peter Parker, Venom has all the same abilities as Spider-Man, from wall-crawling to super strength greater than Spidey's, to even shooting web-like material made from its own body. In addition to the inherited Spider-abilities, the symbiote can also heal its host more quickly, filter out toxic substances, share any memories it obtained from previous hosts and shape shift to camouflage or disguise itself. As if all these powers weren't enough, Venom also can't be detected by Spider-Man's spider sense, although he didn't inherit a spider sense of his own. As for weaknesses, intense sounds and fire are the main things that can bring him down.
The villainous head of The Life Foundation will be played by Riz Ahmed in Venom. It was thought that he would be taking on the role of Carnage when he was first added to the film's cast, but that turns out not to be true. Instead, the movie's panel at SDCC 2018 revealed that his Carlton Drake would, indeed, become so intrigued by the experiments he's running that he decides to use himself as a guinea pig, with Drake becoming the evil symbiote known as Riot in the comics. The Venom trailer which was released at the end of July 2018 finally showed off some of the conflict that audiences can expect between Venom and Riot, even though it does take quite a bit of eagle-eyed viewing to see it about two-thirds into the spot. But, it's good to know we can count on Drake doing more than leading The Life Foundation with a wicked grin.
Eddie Brock's ex-wife, Ann Weying, was a successful lawyer, and during one of Venom's rampages, Ann helped Spider-Man talk Eddie down and convince him to give up. During another story, the Sin-Eater shot Ann, and to save her, Eddie had the Venom symbiote bond with her to heal her wounds. By doing this, Ann became She-Venom, and during her brief time with the symbiote, she killed the two men who tried to attack her and Eddie. After Ann was freed, she tried to blame her actions on the symbiote, but Eddie told her that the symbiote never forces its host to do something they don't want to do. Ann was then arrested, but Eddie sent the Venom symbiote to her so she could escape prison. She-Venom went for another round against some criminals, and when Eddie was injured, she gave up the symbiote to save him. But those experiences were too much for her, and months later she killed herself due to her inability to cope with having been She-Venom and seeing Eddie transform back into Venom.
Michelle Williams (Manchester by the Sea) is portraying Ann in Venom, but for the purposes of this story, it sounds like she'll be a district attorney who falls for Eddie while he's still coming to terms with being joined with the symbiote, instead of already being his ex-wife by the time the movie starts. As for if she'll become She-Venom, that's unlikely, given that Eddie is the star of the show, but who knows, maybe to defeat Carnage, Eddie will need to let go of part or all of his symbiote and give it to Ann so she can lend assistance. However, Williams noted in December 2017 that no efforts had been made to digitize her appearance, so it sounds like She-Venom is out for the time being.
Venom is, as of this writing, just a week away from opening, but we still have no idea if Carnage will fill any antagonist position in the movie, even though it's been rumored that the character will be around for quite some time. If he is, it will be something to see, because unlike Venom, Carnage doesn't have a moral compass. Cletus Kasady was one of the world's most notorious serial killers, guided by the mindset that only through chaos can one truly be free. Eventually, he was captured and sent to Ryker's Island, where he shared a cell with Eddie Brock. When the Venom symbiote sneaked into the prison to re-bond with Eddie, it left behind an offspring, and because this alien species don't feel any attachment to their children, Eddie's symbiote didn't clue him in on the "baby." After Eddie's escape, this new symbiote bonded with Kasady, turning him into Carnage and passing along the same spider-powers that the Venom symbiote inherited from Spider-Man (including super strength greater than Spidey and Venom's) and natural abilities of a symbiote. Carnage is also able to shoot parts of its symbiote as weapons that disintegrate seconds later; something Venom can't do.
With his powers and psychopathic mind, Carnage is one of the Marvel universe's most dangerous villains, making him a great opponent for Venom on the big screen. No details about the Venom movie's version of Carnage have been revealed yet, including whether it will remain an offspring of the original symbiote or if it's a completely separate entity, or whether or not we'll actually see Carnage as opposed to just seeing the man who would later become him. Fortunately, Venom hates Carnage almost as much as he hates Spider-Man, so seeing the symbiote-powered characters clash on the big screen should be a treat.
When actor Riz Ahmed (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) was added to the Venom cast in the summer of 2017, rumors swirled that he had been cast as Carnage in the movie. But, those rumors were quickly shot down by reports which noted he was filling another major role in the film. Not much more was said about Carnage until early April 2018, when another set of rumors led many to believe that Woody Harrelson, whose potential casting was reported in December 2017, would actually be the one filling the role of the murderous, chaos-loving symbiote/serial killer. Nothing is concrete just yet, but it's all but been confirmed that there will be a mid-credits scene at the end of Venom, meaning that Carnage (and Harrelson) could surprise us then.
Luckily for Eddie Brock, after he decides to take on The Life Foundation he'll have some help in the form of Jenny Slate's Dora Skirth. Dora, who is a character created just for the film, works for the foundation and helps Eddie out by giving him some insider information on the symbiote the organization is experimenting with. Not so luckily, his trip behind the scenes of the foundation with Dora appears to be how he ends up becoming one with Venom.
Following The Amazing Spider-Man 2's underwhelming performance, Sony decided to scrap its plans for a Spider-Man cinematic universe and teamed up with Marvel to bring the character into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The result was introducing the third cinematic incarnation of Peter Parker in Captain America: Civil War, followed by Spider-Man: Homecoming a year later. Spider-Man has a bright future ahead of him in the MCU, but the same can't be said for Sony's spinoff movies. Even though Tom Holland's Spider-Man adventures and Venom exist in the same reality, i.e. the MCU, Spider-Man will not show up during Eddie Brock's standalone story; not even for a cameo, all rumors to the contrary. It's a shame, because many have been hoping see a better brawl between Spidey and Venom after Spider-Man 3 failed to impress on that front. Alas, all we can hope for now is if Sony is willing to reverse this policy and fit Spidey into a Venom sequel if that is greenlit.
Sony's Marvel Universe
Venom isn't the only Spider-Man-centric movie Sony has coming down the pipeline. Silver & Black was also in development for a time, but, after being delayed indefinitely in February 2018, the movie was then scrapped in favor of two separate solo films, meant to focus on Silver Sable and Black Cat. Both characters have been allies and also enemies to Spider-Man over the years, reportedly going up against villains like Tombstone, Tarantula, Scorpion and Chameleon. At this point, neither film is expected to include the presence of Spider-Man, much like Venom. Also in development right now is a film set to focus on Cindy Moon, a.k.a. Silk. Details on this film are also under wraps, but Silk is a cool comic character who was bitten by the same spider as Peter Parker, and (while not as strong as him) is faster, has a more powerful sixth sense and can shoot webbing from her actual fingertips. These three projects have joined Spike Lee's Nightwatch movie and Morbius the Living Vampire as potential films from this shared universe, and we'll be sure to keep you updated as these films move forward.