Whether Venom is or isn't in the MCU is still a big question-mark over Tom Hardy's upcoming superhero film, but even if it's not in a world of Asgardians and super soldiers, the spin-off can still feature some famous Spider-Man characters.
Rumors continue to swirl that Tom Holland might make a cameo of some sort as the famous New York-based web-slinger - or his schoolboy alter ego - but there's been nothing concrete in that regard yet. Indeed, the friendly-neighborhood Spider-Man popping up in an R-rated vigilante flick might be a little tonally dissonant. Plus, in the current MCU canon, Spidey isn't feeling so good. For now, that's up in the air.
Still, there are a lot of Spider-Man characters available for Sony to integrate into their Venom film, and the Ruben Fleischer-directed anti-hero thriller will surely have many opportunities to shine a spotlight on some fan-favorite Marvel faces, or even position further characters to springboard into their own movies. Sony is, after all, hoping Venom will start their own Spider-villain shared universe, with multiple projects in development; with the first set to be a hit, it would fit from the studio behind The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
With that said, what Marvel characters would be tonally appropriate for the highly-anticipated dark and gritty take on this particular corner of the Spider-Man mythos?
- This Page: Key Spider-Villains That Can Appear
- Page 2: Marvel Organizations That Could Factor Into Venom
Even after the release of two trailers for the film, the plot of Venom is still mostly a mystery. In recent months, much has been made of rumors that Woody Harrelson might be playing Cletus Kasady aka Carnage in a small role which will be further developed in a prospective sequel. In the comics, Kasady is a serial killer who bonds with a Symbiote, much like how Eddie Brock bonds with one of the alien creatures. Unlike Brock, however, Kasady has no sense of morality and is an unrepentant murderer, a shameless evildoer with no redeeming qualities. For lack of a better word, Carnage is a monster; he's also one of the most popular Spider-Man villains.
If the reports are true, then Venom is taking a bold move by not making full use of Carnage straight away. After all, a showdown between the two would be the obvious story for an all-in Venom movie, and holding back as a sequel tease risks Harrelson's part never being resolved.
Then again, perhaps Carnage will have the opportunity to shine in the Venom film, emerging as an unexpected third-act foe, like Harvey "Two-Face" Dent in The Dark Knight. Whatever the case, it's expected for Carnage, in one form or another, will have a part to play in Venom.
Silver & Black and Other Sony Spin-Offs
While Venom's status in the MCU is still unclear, with its eventual quality possibly dictating how it relates to the main Spider-Man canon, that doesn't mean it isn't already part of another shared universe. While expecting Nick Fury to recruit Eddie Brock is foolhardy, there are other characters who could appear. In addition to Venom, Sony is currently developing multiple other spin-off films, including Silver & Black and Morbius (although the former was recently undated). A film based on Kraven the Hunter has also long been rumored, and is possibly the reason the character was unable to appear in Black Panther.
Of course, Sony would be wise to avoid over-stuffing Venom with teasers for what's next, instead integrating the characters in the story. Given that there's no casting for any of these yet, it would have to be a cameo, but in a secrecy-heavy era of moviemaking, that's always possible. If director Reuben Fleischer can find a clever way to introduce those characters without reducing Venom's ownership over the film which bears his name, then maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea.
Page 2 of 2: Marvel Organizations That Could Factor Into Venom
The Life Foundation
Venom will be loosely adapting the Lethal Protector comic book arc, which means The Life Foundation will play an important part in the film's story. They acquire the Symbiote and use it to conduct horrible science experiments on people. Eddie Brock is hot on their trail, investigating their heinous misdeeds, but winds up captured and subjected to illegal and amoral experimentation, ultimately leading to his rebirth as Venom.
Riz Ahmed is playing the boss of The Life Foundation, Dr. Carlton Drake. In the comics, he transforms into the downright terrifying creature, Homo Arachnis, a decidedly more monstrous kind of "Spider Man?". That would definitely be a striking turn for the film, although perhaps too much as a key villain.
Other characters associated with The Life Foundation include The Jury (a group of contracted mercenaries with high-tech combat gear) and The Five Symbiotes, a team of alien-enhanced soldiers. Of these Symbiote soldiers, the most popular is easily Scream, AKA Donna Diego. Donna will appear in Venom, played by Michelle Lee, although it remains to be seen if she will be consumed by a Symbiote in the film.
The Daily Bugle
In the Spider-Man mythology, Eddie Brock is a reporter for The Daily Globe who accuses the wrong man for the recent spate of Sin-Eater killings. Spider-Man catches the real murderer, and Brock is disgraced. He vows revenge on Spider-Man, just in time to be corrupted by Spidey's discarded Symbiote suit.
This storyline was loosely adapted for the 2007 Spider-Man 3 film, with several changes. He doesn't accidentally accuse the wrong man, but actively conspires to smear the good name of Spider-Man with fake photographs depicting the hero committing crimes. He also works alongside Peter Parker the Daily Bugle, a newspaper which, surprisingly, has yet to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The lack of the Daily Bugle in the MCU has been chalked up to Tom Holland's more youthful take on Spidey and the tough task of recasting legendary casting of J.K. Simmons as the paper's bombastic editor, J. Jonah Jameson. Even with bold re-castings like Don Cheadle as War Machine and Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk, J.K. Simmons' iconic portrayal of JJJ is a tough act to follow. He didn't even appear in Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man films.
That absence and Venom's unclear MCU state mean that it would be easy to work in the Daily Bugle as a background presence. Of course, the film is set in San Francisco, although in the modern age that's no barrier to newspaper distribution. If there is a New York presence, that further leaves the door open for NYC-based characters like Jameson, Robbie Robertson, or even Dexter Bennett, who notoriously bought the Bugle and turned it into a shady gossip rag.
There's a lot riding on Venom. It's promising a comics-accurate version of one of the most popular anti-heroes ever written, and is aiming to be the film which finally transforms Tom Hardy from a top-tier character actor to an A-List leading man. If the film includes a plethora of Marvel characters in roles both large and small, one can only hope it does justice to the decades of comic book history being represented. Time will tell if Venom lives up to its massive potential and the palpable hype of its marketing campaign.