Characters in Venom with more meaning than you realized

If you're looking for a horror-tinged superhero, few comics characters fit the bill better than Venom. From his head-eating fetish to his surprising acts of virtue, Venom is a character that swerves so hard around the morality spectrum it's a surprise he hasn't broken it completely by now.

Venom first sank his teeth into fans' brains decades ago in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man comics, and the sometimes-villain-sometimes-antihero has had a long time to build up a menagerie of kooky characters, like a mercenary who absorbs people's sins and a fire-breathing Jack O'Lantern. When your hero is a weird guy like Venom, his adversaries need to be even weirder.

Not surprisingly, a handful of those familiar names hitched a ride into 2018's Venom, the symbiote's first solo big-screen outing. Here are some of the characters in Venom who have way more meaning than you realized. Major spoilers ahead.

Anne Weying

In Venom, Michelle Williams plays Anne Weying, Eddie Brock's fiancee who dumps him for sneaking information about the Life Foundation out of her personal files and then accosting the foundation's CEO, Carlton Drake, in an interview segment. The move gets both of them fired, and Weying breaks off their engagement.

She later gets catapulted back into his life in a big way when Venom takes over her body so she can carry him back to Eddie. For a few minutes, audiences were treated to a giant, head-eating female Venom. The spell is broken when she and Eddie kiss and straight-up tongue wrestle Venom back into Eddie (it's a weird kiss, even by symbiote standards), but some fans no doubt felt a little let down that this was all we got to see of She-Venom.

That's right — that sassy symbiote has a name, and it comes straight out of the Venom miniseries Sinner Takes All. In that arc, Venom leaves Eddie and bonds with Anne to save her life after she's shot. Later in the series, they pull the same trick to get out of a hostage situation, saving the day by way of perfectly planned body-swapping. Of course, Anne's bond with the symbiote quickly became problematic in its own way — and ultimately ended with her leaping out of a window to her death — but let's accentuate the positive for now: Michelle Williams is great, and the prospect of seeing her go full-on She-Venom is downright exciting.

Carlton Drake

2018's Venom saw Rhiz Amed channeling the prototypical bad guy in his character, Carlton Drake. He's an amoral scumbag who uses people like guinea pigs for his research, and at the end he pulls a Tim Roth and becomes Venomy Abomination — a slightly stronger evil mirror to the good guy. He and Venom punch each other a lot, and then one of them explodes. In the comics, however, there's a bit more to this guy's story.

Like many of Venom's adversaries, Carlton Drake was originally a Spider-Man villain. He and his nefarious Life Foundation first showed up in The Amazing Spider-Man #298, and it only took him a few issues to throw an army of mutated monsters at Spidey. The guy works fast, and he doesn't quit. For nearly as long as he's been a thorn in Spider-Man's side, he's been a downright javelin in Venom's.

His big clash with the antihero came in Venom: Lethal Protector, which coincidentally served as one of the storylines Venom was based on. In that series, Drake concocts a plan to steal five pieces of Venom and nurture them into his own symbiote super soldiers. He succeeds, creating Scream, Phage, Lasher, Agony, and Riot (in the film, Drake himself became Riot). Eventually, Spider-Man and Venom put a stop to this particular plan, sending Drake back into hiding to concoct bigger, more devious schemes which later come to light in the Arachnis Project story arc.

Roland Treece

He didn't have a lot going on in the movie, but Scott Haze made a pretty good henchman as Roland Treece. Sure, he got his head eaten in the end, but it's the journey that counts.

Unfortunately, in this case, that journey should have been a lot bigger. In his comics incarnation, Treece isn't a low-level thug who goes out to crummy apartments to retrieve his boss's lost aliens — he's an ultra-rich businessman who sits on the board of directors for the Life Foundation. Granted, he's still less of a threat to Venom than Drake, but it's Treece's master plan to demolish part of the city that sends Spidey and Venom running back to San Francisco for the final showdown.

And that's all fine. The Venom movie didn't need multiple masterminds for its crazy schemes. Still, it would have been nice to see Treece use at least a little bit of planning since that's, you know, 100 percent what he's known for in the comics. Ah, well. At least Venom didn't try to shoehorn in Venomsaurus Rex. Okay, who are we kidding? Venomsaurus Rex would have been the best addition to this movie.

Donna Diego

In the first act of the movie, we're introduced to some tanks of goo in the Life Foundation labs. Those are the symbiotes that Drake is trying to mate with human hosts — a project that goes disastrously wrong. If you paid close attention, you may have noticed that one of the symbiotes was distinctly yellow, which matches another distinctly yellow symbiote in the comics: Scream.

In Venom: Lethal Protector, Donna Diego was the human host for Scream, one of the five symbiotes created by Drake. She eventually gained a measure of self-awareness, and gained enough control over her symbiote to start hunting the other ones.

There was a lot of internet speculation pegging the EMT who bonds with a symbiote to be Donna Diego. Although we now know that that lady was just a brief host for the Riot symbiote, her inclusion — and the fact that she got more screentime than the other hosts — could be another nod to Donna Diego. Maybe. We'll just have to wait for Venom 2 to find out.

Cletus Kasady

Before the reviews were even in, Venom was already setting up a sequel in its Spiderless Spiderverse. In the mid-credits scene, we see Woody Harrelson make an appearance as a red-haired psychopath in a prison cell who goes by the name Cletus Kasady. Comics fans should instantly recognize the name as the inmate who played host to Venom's son, Carnage. For newcomers, let's do a quick recap, because it gets weird.

In Amazing Spider-Man #345, Eddie Brock is in jail when Venom shows up to break him out. Unfortunately, Venom was pregnant during the escape attempt, and the little baby Venom slithered away and bonded with a violently insane prisoner named — you guessed it — Cletus Kasady. Together, they became Carnage. He may be Venom's son, but he's stronger and crazier than dear old dad. If a Venom sequel gets off the ground, a Woody Harrelson-played Carnage could be just the ticket to take this franchise into the stratosphere.