There are certainly a lot of risks involved with Sony's upcoming release of Venom, but if you were to ask a comic book fan what they thought was most alarming, they would likely point out the lack of Spider-Man. Sony and Marvel haven't been entirely on the same page about Spider-Man's connection to the Venom movie, but for a character whose whole identity is based on being the dark version of Spidey, you have to wonder how Venom can work without his nemesis. Well, it's not that impossible, because Marvel Comics has been doing some serious legwork to distance Venom and Spider-Man, with the latest relaunch going full-on cosmic with Venom's backstory.
As comic book fans and moviegoers know, Spider-Man once bonded with a parasitic symbiote that made him more powerful but with extra rage issues that made him kind of a butthole. Spidey ditched the suit, but it quickly found a new host in Eddie Brock, granting him all of Spider-Man's powers. As both a supervillain and anti-hero, Venom is pretty attached to Spider-Man and even when a new host was found, that character usually had some kind of prior relationship with Spidey or Peter Parker. Venom is Spider-Man's shadow, which makes it all the more difficult to make a Venom movie and leave Web Head out of it entirely.
However, Marvel Comics may be giving the movie some wiggle room by making some big revelations about Venom's past. While Spider-Man works best on the ground level, Venom's comic book adventures of late have had their sights set on the stars -- perhaps none more than the recent relaunch. Written by Donny Cates and drawn by Ryan Stegman, Venom completely reinvents the character by exploring the origins of the entire symbiote race. As it turns out, Peter Parker isn't the first human to bond with a symbiote. The U.S. government had a secret program where it bonded symbiotes with soldiers, sending them in as weapons for deadly missions like the Vietnam War.
But that's barely a blip on the radar once you hear the rest. When the comic starts, Eddie Brock has been having trouble controlling the symbiote, and has a bit of an episode where Venom takes on a new form and speaks an indecipherable ancient language. Then Brock is recruited by Rex, the last survivor of the government's Sym-Soldier Program, who offers Brock the secrets to his symbiote in exchange for help freeing his old soldier buddies who are under government control.
Long story short, there's a lot more going on and what Venom actually frees is an ancient symbiote dragon who has finally woken up from a thousand-year slumber.
Heavy right? Well, it's not over yet. It turns out that this dragon and every symbiote is just a piece of a god named Knull, a malevolent being older than the universe itself. He remembers the Big Bang, and he went to war with the Celestials when they started to create the universe, believing their light was usurping his kingdom of darkness. To fight them, Knull crafted a living sword called All-Black (which is a big part of a really good, but unrelated, Thor comic), but he eventually lost it. Turning a decapitated Celestial head into a forge, Knull created an army of symbiotes from his darkness and used them to conquer planets. However, the symbiote-dragon was defeated by Thor on Earth and his lightning severed Knull's connection to the symbiotes.
Knull was eventually imprisoned in the core of an artificial planet by his creations, who had become "infected" with benevolence. With his consciousness awoken with the dragon, Knull is back in action and now plans to resume his galactic conquest -- beginning with Earth.
So, yeah, a lot more complicated than alien goo loves Spider-Man. Obviously, this story is about as far away from Peter Parker as possible. An early encounter with Knull causes Venom to gain a few new powers, one of which is the ability to grow dragon wings, meaning that Venom barely even needs spider powers anymore.
None of this is to say that the Venom movie is going to be doing any of this. This comic is only five issues in, so it's impossible that it served as inspiration for the movie. The point is that this is an example of how to make us of Venom with relying on his connections to Spider-Man. All of this is based on his symbiote backstory, which is cosmic and weird and cool. There's no reason Venom can't dig into the cosmic side to make up for the Spidey stuff that it can't touch. Plus, with Tom Hardy contracted for three movies, who's to say that Knull won't show up in a sequel.
Given that Knull is related to like three different Marvel characters (that Celestial head he lived in is Knowhere from the Guardians of the Galaxy movies), it would be cooler to see him in the MCU, but at least this gives Venom option beyond fighting evil symbiotes. He's always been tied to Spider-Man, but now the universe is a lot bigger for Venom, which only means more freedom for his feature-length film.