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Topher Grace Vs. Tom Hardy: Here's Who Played The Best Venom

In the age of reboots, sequels, prequels, and spin-offs, audiences are used to seeing multiple versions of the same character in a short space of time. The perfect example is obviously Spider-Man, as audiences saw Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, and Tom Holland all play the web-slinger on the big screen within a decade. So when it came to delivering a new version of Venom, Sony wasn't worried that audiences would get confused with Tom Hardy playing the same character that Topher Grace portrayed in the 2007 film "Spider-Man 3."

Venom is an alien symbiote from the planet Klyntar. In "Spider-Man 3," Topher Grace's Eddie Brock is a rival photographer at The Daily Bugle who butts heads with Peter Parker, and eventually bonds with the alien symbiote after Peter ditches it over fears that he's becoming too violent. In 2018's "Venom," Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock gets the symbiote when he's investigating the Life Foundation laboratories owned by Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed).

But with two very different versions of Eddie Brock, it's time to pit Topher Grace and Tom Hardy against each other to decide who played the best Venom.

Topher Grace's misaligned villain

Let's address the symbiote in the room. "Spider-Man 3" isn't exactly remembered as a masterpiece, especially alongside the previous two films. It has a 51% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and a lot of the criticisms are leveled at the story, which crams too many villains into its 114 minutes-long run time. Or as Roger Ebert put it, "Too many villains, too many pale plot strands, too many romantic misunderstandings, too many conversations."

But let's look specifically at Topher Grace's Eddie Brock/Venom. He certainly manages to get Brock's tenacious attitude when it comes to defaming Spider-Man, which only escalates Peter's rivalry with the villain. J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) fires him from the Daily Bugle, and so begins Brock's hatred for Peter Parker. Unlike the comics, Venom doesn't start hunting Peter and making use of the fact that the hero's spider-sense doesn't alert him to the symbiote. Instead, he just teams up with Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) to take the hero down. He's not particularly likable as a character, and there isn't much room for him to be anything but a bully with some extra muscle.

Grace's Brock is addicted to having the power that the symbiote grants him, but there's no real depth to his character whatsoever — he doesn't even talk to the symbiote either. Boo. That being said, he's great at playing an over-the-top villain, and he clearly has fun chewing the scenery (literally). Yes, he's still mainly a CGI villain (though he was originally meant to be animatronic), but his design is at least based on Spidey's costume like the comics.

Tom Hardy's buddy-cop anti-hero

On the other side of the web is Tom Hardy's rugged anti-hero who winds up getting the symbiote when he's trying to uncover Carlton Drake's evil experiments at the Life Foundation. From there, he and Venom try to stop another symbiote called Riot from bringing the rest of the aliens to Earth, before later vowing to protect San Francisco from crime — like a Lethal Protector. The problem with the "Venom" movie is that it's really a buddy-cop comedy wrapped up in a sci-fi thriller, which is largely why it got poor reviews, only scraping in a 30% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Hardy's Eddie is completely undone by having an alien symbiote inhabiting his body — just look at the truly insane scene where he eats live lobsters in a fancy restaurant in front of his ex, Anne (Michelle Williams), and her new boyfriend Dr. Lewis (Reid Scott). But it's quite fun seeing Venom and Eddie have an open dialogue all the way through the film. They're a highly dysfunctional team, but a team nonetheless. Although they're intrinsically linked, they are two separate characters with their own wants and needs. Those motivations might be a little generic at times, but at least they have actual character arcs.

Venom is a beefier character in his solo film, both figuratively and literally — Hardy's Venom would tower over Grace's vengeful symbiote. Brock doesn't meet Peter Parker (Tom Holland) in his solo movie, which means he doesn't have his signature white spider symbol on his chest. Instead, Venom has weird white tendrils which run across his body. They're a bit gross, but they are very unique.

Tom Hardy beats Topher Grace as Venom

Obviously, everyone has different tastes, but it's pretty clear that Tom Hardy is a better Venom than Topher Grace. But that's largely because Hardy has the advantage of having a solo movie in which he is the protagonist, which gives the star much more time to explore Venom and Eddie in depth. Conversely, "Spider-Man 3" had a limited run time that needed to service Peter Parker, Mary Jane-Watson (Kirsten Dunst), and three separate villains. So it's amazing that the director Sam Raimi and his brother Ivan Raimi managed to give Eddie a basic character arc in their story.

While the 2018 "Venom" film did not receive positive reviews, the sequel is getting way more positive reactions so far. "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" currently holds an 85% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes and raked in $11.6 million in previews (via Variety). Luckily, Topher Grace is self-aware about his time as Venom, because he joked with fans on Reddit about potentially returning for "Spider-Man: No Way Home" — saying "Tom Hardy and I pop out and battle each other and I win (obvi), it's like not even a fight I just kick his a** immediately." 

Who else wants to see that fight?