Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What You Need To Know Before You See Venom

Venom has long been a favorite among Marvel fans, yet until 2018, the half-alien anti-hero only made it to the big screen on one occasion. Topher Grace took on the mantle in Spider-Man 3, the last (and worst, according to the critics) entry in Sam Raimi's trilogy. The general consensus was that he was miscast in the role, and even the actor himself admitted that he was shocked when Sony came calling. According to Grace, the studio made the right choice in casting Tom Hardy to play the part in 2018's Venom. "I'm thrilled to watch it as a fan. I really mean that," he told Inverse. "I think he's just the best dude."

After Spidey himself, Venom is the most recognizable Spider-Man character Sony is able to use, though he's going to be the first of many if things go according to plan. Their licensing deal with Marvel includes the rights to roughly 900 Spider-Man characters, and Venom is being pitched as the opening movie in what they're now calling "Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters." But before we get to any of that, we've got Tom Hardy's debut outing to look forward to, and we've got the lowdown on it right here.

From who's playing who to the comics you need to quickly brush up on, here's everything you need to know before you see Venom.

Who is Eddie Brock and how does he become Venom?

The face behind all those teeth belongs to a human named Eddie Brock. Created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane, Brock first appeared in print in 1988. His mother died giving birth to him, and his strict father didn't know how to bond with him, which made for a lonely childhood. He grew up to be a respected journalist, but ended up in disgrace because of Peter Parker's actions — Brock conducted a groundbreaking interview with serial killer Sin-Eater, but Spider-Man proved that Brock's man was a fraud when he captured the real Sin-Eater.

The movie will tweak Brock's origin story quite a bit, mostly out of necessity. In the comics, the Venom symbiote had already bonded with Peter Parker by the time Brock came across it, which is why the comics version of Venom has the white spider logo on his chest. The movie version doesn't have this, because Brock comes into contact with it under entirely different circumstances.

In the source material, Parker learns that the symbiotes don't like extremely loud noises and he manages to free himself of it by going into a church and ringing the bells. After being shamed at work and diagnosed with cancer (another element of the character's origin Sony saw fit to remove), Brock goes to that same church to pray. He and the symbiote bond over a shared hatred of Parker, and Venom is born.

What is a symbiote and how do you pronounce it?

Most Marvel fans will tell you that it's "Sym-BEE-ote" rather than "Sym-BYE-ote." When the first Venom trailer dropped, it appeared as though the movie was going to play fast and loose with the pronunciation and many fans took to Twitter to vent their anger, sharing clips from the animated Spider-Man series as examples of how the word should be said. However you choose to pronounce it, you're not going to sound silly if you know exactly what a symbiote is and where it comes from, so pay attention.

Also known as the Klyntars (after the artificial planet they constructed as a prison for their creator, the dark god Knull), the symbiotes are a race of extraterrestrial, fully sentient parasites. They live by cocooning living organisms and feeding off their adrenaline, sucking their hosts dry before leaving them for dead. The symbiote that would eventually bond with Eddie Brock was actually considered a deranged mutant by others of its kind, because its goal was to form a long-lasting bond with its host of choice rather than kill it.

As we know, the Venom symbiote initially chose Peter Parker as that host, but in 2015 we found out that it briefly bonded with another Marvel hero. In Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars, it's revealed that Wade Wilson discovered the symbiote before Parker. He discarded it when he realized that it was sentient, but not before it was able to sync to his cells, giving it the unhinged personality it's now known for.

Is it based on a comic arc?

Speaking at 2017's Comic-Con Experience (via Collider), director Ruben Fleischer revealed that his Venom movie is actually based on two Marvel comic book runs, one of which is Planet of the Symbiotes. This five-issue arc was published in 1995 and follows Venom as he teams up with Spider-Man and the Scarlet Spider to halt a worldwide symbiote invasion. The second comic used for inspiration by the filmmakers was 1993's Lethal Protector, which also saw Brock and Parker form an unlikely alliance.

Judging from the footage we've seen in teasers and trailers thus far, Lethal Protector certainly seems to have had the most influence on screenwriters Scott Rosenberg (Pain & Gain), Jeff Pinkner (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) and Kelly Marcel (Fifty Shades of Grey). In this six-issue series, Spider-Man and Venom arrange a truce, with the latter agreeing to leave New York for San Francisco (where the movie is set) as part of the bargain. They come back together soon after to deal with five new symbiotes, offspring of Venom.

Doing the Lethal Protector storyline without Spider-Man is going to be tricky, but they've covered as many bases as possible, according to VFX supervisor Paul Franklin. "We show how the Venom symbiote came to Earth, how Eddie Brock got to meet the symbiote, how it bonded with him, and then ultimately became the Venom character that we all know from the comics," Franklin told IGN during a visit to the set.

Will Spider-Man be in it?

Could a Venom movie even work without Spider-Man? According to Ruben Fleischer, it can and it will. The director was asked about a lack of Spider-Man in the movie when he spoke to IGN at San Diego Comic-Con 2018 (via ScreenRant), and he was adamant that Venom was a big enough character to command an audience all by himself.

"There is more than enough Venom to go around," the Zombieland director said. "Venom is a really huge character, and Hardy is an amazing actor, so there is plenty to mine just from Tom's performance, the character and the world he inhabits." It was made pretty clear that Tom Holland's Spider-Man wouldn't be involved in the picture, but what about Tom Holland's Peter Parker?

In September 2018, reports that Holland was indeed going to appear in the Venom film began to circulate online, and they appear to have some weight. He might not show up in costume, but according to Collider's Jon Schnepp, he will show up as Peter Parker. "Tom Holland was on set filming scenes on Venom for at least two days as Peter Parker," Schnepp said (via ComicBook.com). "I'm not saying that Spider-Man is in the film. When I say that Tom Holland's Spider-Man is in the film, I'm saying Peter Parker is in the film. This is a cameo."

What is the Life Foundation?

If you've been keeping up to date with the Venom teasers and trailers so far, you'll be vaguely aware of the Life Foundation already. It isn't on the same level as, say, a group like Hydra inside the Marvel universe, but this shady organization often lurks in the shadows of Venom arcs. It was formed during the Cold War by people who believed that the world was headed for a nuclear holocaust. To ensure the survival of civilized life on earth, the founding members (described by Venom as "crazy paranoid millionaire survivalists" in the Spider-Man Unlimited video game) built a fallout shelter big enough to house the people wealthy enough to buy themselves a place.

To protect the shelter and its inhabitants, the Life Foundation kidnapped Venom and used him to create five new symbiotes; Agony, Phage, Lasher, Scream and Riot. In reality, the five symbiotes (bonded to Life Foundation employees) were minor characters in the comics. "While they were mostly cool designs, these symbiotes were little more than that," Den of Geek reports. "They didn't get codenames or host names until well after the fact, and the hosts didn't even get any identifiable traits."

The Scream symbiote did manage to get some dialogue in when she fought Spider-Man (she'll be portrayed by Michelle Lee in the movie), but it appears as though Riot will be the big bad in Venom. Like his "father" Symbiote, Riot has super-strength and can reshape his body to form bladed weapons.

Who is Riz Ahmed playing?

In the comics, the Riot symbiote has been bonded to a mercenary named Trevor Cole for the majority of its existence. Cole was chosen as a host for one of the five symbiotes because he had the right work experience for the job — the Life Foundation was trying to create its very own alien police force, after all. Cole won't be Riot's host onscreen, however. In the movie, Riot will be bonded to Life Foundation boss Carlton Drake, who is being brought to life by Rogue One and The Night Of star Riz Ahmed.

"My character is a billionaire industrialist, he's an inventor, he's a bit of a genius, and he's really interested in trying to find a future for humanity as we face ecological collapse and war," Ahmed told Entertainment Weekly (via ComicBook.com). "For him, the solution lies in colonizing other planets. So it's actually a kind of search for another suitable habitat for humanity that leads him to the Symbiotes."

It's clear that Ahmed's Carlton Drake is the antagonist of the piece, but in his mind, all he's doing is trying to create a better future for mankind. "No one thinks that they are the bad guy, that's the reality," the Brit (who was included on Time's 100 most influential people list in 2017) added. "When I'm playing a character like Carlton Drake, I'm sure you'll think I'm crazy but I totally understand what he's doing and why he's doing it."

Is Woody Harrelson in it?

If you're well-versed in Venom comics, you've probably been wondering why the movie version is facing off against Riot rather than Carnage, his most famous Symbiote nemesis. Carnage came into being when the Venom symbiote launched a jailbreak, busting Eddie Brock out of prison so they could reunite. What Brock didn't know was that his symbiote was "pregnant" and, during the commotion, it left its seed behind. Brock's cellmate (a homicidal maniac named Cletus Kasady) bonded with the spawn of Venom, and together they became a menace.

Woody Harrelson was linked with the role for the longest time, though neither the actor nor Sony would confirm his involvement. That changed at the premiere of Solo: A Star Wars Story. The actor admitted to Collider that he was indeed going to be in the film, but not for very long. "I'm in a little fraction of this movie, but I'll be in the next one, you know?" Harrelson said. "So I haven't read that script, but anyways, just rolled the dice... I thought it was under wraps that I'm even in the movie!"

Harrelson essentially confirmed that his version of Carnage will be the villain in the next Venom installment. He's well-respected in Hollywood, but Venom co-creator David Michelinie had a cautious response to his casting. "He's played nutso characters in the past, but I guess we'll have to wait until October to see just how far he can ramp it up," Michelinie wrote on Facebook. "Fingers crossed."

Who is Michelle Williams playing?

Four-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams is playing Anne Weying, a hot shot lawyer and Eddie Brock's ex-wife in the comics. She was introduced in 1993's Amazing Spider-Man #375 along with Eddie's disapproving father, Carl Brock. Like Eddie, her appearances in the source material have often involved Peter Parker (she even helped Spider-Man out by dishing the dirt on her former husband), so naturally the movie version won't ring entirely true. Instead of just removing the Spidey-related elements, Sony has given the character a full facelift. She's now Brock's girlfriend as opposed to his ex-wife, and she certainly isn't going to be the typical damsel in distress.

Williams was apparently instrumental in upgrading Anne Weying for a modern audience, offering her input from an early stage. Speaking to Total Film (via ComicBookMovie), she explained how she made sure her version of Weying would resonate with moviegoers. "I think Anne is a strong character, and very intelligent," the Manchester by the Sea star said. "I wanted her to be born of the #MeToo world, and I worked hard to convey that with her wardrobe and dialogue."

Williams (who wears a wig throughout the movie, as she's done numerous times before) has shared the screen with a host of A-list stars over the years, and she was eager to add Tom Hardy to that list. "A huge part of the appeal of this project was to get to work with him," she added.

Will Anne Weying become She-Venom?

When Venom fans learned that Michelle Williams had been cast as Anne Weying, speculation about just how big a character she'd be in the movie immediately began. This is because, in the comics, Weying becomes She-Venom. After Weying is shot by Sin-Eater (the same villain that caused all the beef between Spidey and Venom), Brock allows her to bond with his symbiote, healing her and giving her the same powers in the process.

There's a bigger appetite for female-led superhero movies than ever, so introducing She-Venom makes sense for Sony. In fact, co-creator David Michelinie originally intended to bond the Venom symbiote with a female character, not Eddie Brock. In his abandoned origin story, the woman's husband is hit by a cab driver who gets distracted by Spider-Man. She subsequently goes into labor and loses her baby, making Spidey her number one target. Marvel editors at the time apparently didn't think fans could handle a woman getting the better of Spider-Man, so the body-building Brock was invented.

Williams has already made it clear that Anne Weying will be no pushover, but will she transform into She-Venom? She told Total Film (via ComicBookMovie) that it would be "a dream come true" and there are rumors that it will take place during the first Venom movie. We'll have to wait and see, but with a trilogy planned, chances are we'll get to see She-Venom at some stage.