When Sony made the recent announcement that they were moving full steam ahead on a solo Venom movie — possibly as a totally separate project from Spider-Man: Homecoming — due for a release date as soon as October 5th, 2018, it’d be no exaggeration to say that lots of people were bowled over with surprise. It’s been a long time since the world’s most famous symbiotic supervillain last saw the big screen, all the way back in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, and most fans weren’t expecting to see those grinning white teeth again for a while yet.
Venom’s unexpectedly rapid return to movie theaters has resulted in a lot of speculation and theories, but one massive question looms above all of the others: which version of Venom will headline the film?
Realistically, we can probably expect that the film will star the classic Venom, Eddie Brock, since he’s by far the most recognized character. (He’s also the one that’s making headlines over in comic book land at the moment.) But nonetheless, it’s worth noting that the comics have actually given us a lot of different versions of Venom, from the weird to the very weird. There’s been female Venoms, soldier Venoms, and even dinosaur Venoms, all linked by the same living alien costume. So as we await more news about how Venom will be portrayed in Sony’s film, or debate whether they’re already setting up his origin in current releases, let’s take a look at 15 Different Versions Of Venom.
15. Eddie Brock, the Classic Venom
Of course, we’ve got to start with the original. When people think of Venom, this is the guy they think of. As soon as Peter Parker ditched the black suit, Eddie Brock picked it up. Alone, the symbiote would be dangerous enough: it may be an alien, but it’s a jealous one with the mindset of a spurned ex-lover, fiercely desiring vengeance on Parker. Combined with Eddie Brock, a hypocritical pseudo-religious ex-reporter who tends to blame all of his mistakes on other people, the two entities become Venom, Spider-Man’s most creepy and nightmarish enemy.
Ever since his first full appearance as the jaw-dropping cliffhanger at the end of Amazing Spider-Man #299, Eddie Brock’s Venom has been the wall-crawler’s single most popular villain. In addition to an unforgettable character design, Brock’s Venom occupies a unique niche in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery: he’s Peter Parker’s stalker. Thanks to the suit, he knows everything about Parker. He doesn’t want to be a criminal kingpin, doesn’t want to invent anything, doesn’t want to rob banks; no, all that Venom cares about is punishing the man whom “they” deem responsible for hurting them. Venom’s been written a lot of different ways over the years, by a lot of different people, but nothing has ever topped the sheer ferocity of the original story (which, as we mentioned, is making a not-so-coincidental comeback in the comics).
Eddie Brock might seem like a self-centered guy — because, well, he kinda is one — but he did manage at one point to have a loving wife. Ann Weying, a successful lawyer, finally called it quits with Brock after his own unethical reporting got him fired, and all he could do was rant and rave about it being Spider-Man’s fault. Yeah, Eddie probably isn’t the best partner. Ann certainly didn’t expect that she’d ever see much of Brock again, but little did she know that their connection was destined to grow even closer.
Years later, Ann ends up getting shot. In a desperate attempt to save her life, Eddie Brock sends out his symbiote to bond with her. This gambit works and manages to heal her wounds, but the symbiote’s rage and power overtake Ann’s usually strong morals, and she proceeds to attack the men who hurt her with such violence that even Eddie is scared. He calls the symbiote back to him, and Ann is horrified by what she’s done. This wouldn’t be the last time that Eddie would forcibly bond her to his symbiote, however, despite her protests.
13. Mac Gargan, the “Scorpion” Venom
Years before Venom, Carnage, or any symbiotes were anywhere close to bonding with a certain friendly neighborhood webhead, Mac Gargan AKA the Scorpion was the original anti-Spider-Man. But over the years, he had lost his touch. Though he’d once been a clever private investigator, the operation that turned him into the Scorpion left Gargan irrational, filled with rage, and constantly undermining his own goals. After years of being handed defeat after defeat by the same superhero he was created to supposedly be an improvement upon, Gargan wanted something better than his Scorpion abilities. So when the cancer-ridden Eddie Brock sold off the symbiote at an auction — donating the proceeds to charity — Gargan is interested. After the symbiote ditches the initial host it is sold to, wanting someone stronger, Gargan jumps at the chance to become the new Venom.
Little does Gargan know that the insanity he’d suffered from before was nothing compared to what the Venom symbiote would soon make him do. As Venom, Gargan is overwhelmed by the symbiote’s tendencies. His mental state degrades to the point where he becomes a cannibalistic sociopath, gorily eating other human beings, and driven by increasingly irrational urges. Gargan becomes terrified of the living organism now bonded to his body, but unable to separate himself. When he is finally cut free from the alien suit, the impact is so severe that Gargan suffers major medical consequences.
12. T-Rex Venom
Venom, Jurassic World-style. While this year’s Logan may have been loosely inspired by the comic book Old Man Logan, the comic contained a lot of wacky moments that would never, ever make their way into a film. Among these is a scene where Logan and his buddy Hawkeye try to escape from a rampaging Tyrannosaurus Rex that, well… has bonded to the Venom symbiote.
Yes, really. Wolverine gets chased by a Venom-infused, rampaging dinosaur. Don’t say we didn’t warn you about the wackiness.
In the post-apocalyptic world depicted within the Old Man Logan comic book, dinosaurs from the Savage Land (a prehistorical tropical preserve hidden in Antarctica) have been imported to the United States. One of these dinosaurs just happens to end up being the victim of the symbiote. Not surprisingly, this drives the already carnivorous creature absolutely nuts, and it chases after Logan’s car with ferocious intensity. As if the T-Rex scenes in the original Jurassic Park weren’t scary enough.
The whole Venom thing left Brock a little torn apart after it ended. As it turns out, Brock’s cancer actually was feeding the symbiote the whole time he wore it, and he knows that as soon as it is removed, he’ll die very quickly. In what he believes are his final days, a cancer-ridden Brock begins hallucinating a vision of “Venom,” that instructs him to commit murders. Brock learns to ignore the suggestions of this hallucination and manages to regain partial control of his mind.
When Brock is miraculously cured of his cancer (long story), he begins a new life working at a soup kitchen. But the symbiote finds him, and when it attempts to leave Mac Gargan’s body and reunite with Brock, something strange happens: instead of bonding to his former alien partner, Brock’s physiology has become caustic to the symbiote, and a new white symbiote is created from the remnants of the old Venom suit in his veins, combined with his white blood cells. After defeating Venom, Brock finds that his new symbiote is composed of powerful antibodies that can not only detect when others are ill or disease-stricken, but also cure them of their ailments.
10. Agent Venom
One of the most popular new takes on a popular character, Agent Venom is Peter Parker’s old childhood bully, Flash Thompson. After graduating high school and becoming friends with the same kid he used to harass, Flash ends up joining the army. His time overseas ends in tragedy, however, with both of his legs getting blown off.
Meanwhile, the now-separated Venom symbiote comes into the possession of the US military, and they want to use it as a weapon. Due to his combat experience, Flash is selected to become “Agent Venom” and perform special ops missions. For these missions, he is bonded to the Venom symbiote, which generates bio-mass to recreate his legs, in addition to endowing him with all of the powerful abilities of the other Venoms. However, Flash is under strict requirements that he can only bond with the symbiote for 48 hours at a time (in order to prevent it from taking control of his mind).
Though Agent Venom is a popular concept, it’ll probably be a while yet before we see it utilized in a movie. While we don’t know yet if Sony’s Venom will connect to the MCU, the character of Flash Thompson is going to be introduced as a teenager in Spider-Man: Homecoming, so we can presume that he’s probably a long way off from his symbiotic future.
9. Deadpool Venom
Okay, so Deadpool is either the biggest lunatic in Marvel Comics, or he’s the only sane character. Sure, it seems like Wade Wilson knows that he’s a comic book character, and is simply smart enough to realize that he can break the fourth wall, but what if he’s actually just talking to himself, and imagining things that aren’t there? Are we sane? Who knows.
As a result, it’s hard to say whether Deadpool’s stories really count, when it comes to continuity. Still, there’s at least one fun little encounter that Deadpool had (or may have had, maybe) with the Venom symbiote, which deserves a mention.
In the comic book Deadpool’s Secret Wars, there is a scene that potentially reveals the origins of the symbiote’s insanity — and it just may be the Merc with a Mouth. According to the story, Deadpool actually wore the symbiote for a bit before Spider-Man found it, and the act of bonding with Wade Wilson’s totally chaotic and bizarre mind was enough to send the symbiote off the deep end. If this story were true, it would provide yet another reason for Spider-Man to hate Deadpool even more than he already does.
8. Lee Price’s Venom
In the comics, the current Venom is Lee Price, a former Army Ranger who came from a rough childhood. After a violent mine explosion that killed several members of Lee’s squad and cost him two fingers, Lee was discharged, but his disability benefits never came through. Unable to find employment, about to be evicted from his apartment, and stuck between a rock and a hard place, Lee becomes a criminal. Little does he know that he is about to come across a fleeing Venom symbiote, anxious to find a new host.
Ironically, the symbiote — after its time being a hero with Flash Thompson — actually wants to continue this new, more virtuous path, but Lee Price has other ideas. Lee overpowers the symbiote’s protests, slaughters every member of Tombstone’s gang, and decides that he’s going to use the symbiote as a tool for his new life as a career criminal. This represents a total switch from the standard Venom dynamic, of course. Now, the symbiote is the one who wants to do good, but its desires are being clamped down on by its murderous human host. Ouch.
7. The Venom Clone
Daniel Way’s 2003 Venom series brought out an entirely new take on the symbiote, inspired by John Carpenter’s classic horror movie The Thing. Here, the Venom symbiote totally destroys any person whom it becomes bonded to, so the symbiote itself is the focus, rather than the humans. Though this symbiote isn’t quite the real Venom…
The story begins in the Arctic Circle, where a U.S. Army Communications Specialist named Patricia Robertson heads up to an arctic outpost founded by the Ararat Corporation. There, she finds out that the entire research team has been violently killed by their own invention: a clone of the Venom symbiote. It turns out that the Ararat Corporation, which is run by a legion of little spider robots, has created the Venom clone for the sake of exterminating humanity.
6. Ultimate Venom
While Venom has traditionally always been represented as an extraterrestrial, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley came up with a new take on the symbiote when they recreated the story within the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man. Here, the symbiote isn’t an alien at all: it’s the cure for cancer, the last great invention of both Richard Parker — and his best friend and partner, Edward Brock, Sr.
This new approach added a personal twist to the standard Venom tale, with both Peter and Eddie Jr. being long lost childhood friends who reunite to work on the cancer suit project again. This creates a deeper connection between both characters, two orphans who just want to continue the work of their lost fathers… and also results in the inevitable rift that forms between them. When Peter dons the suit as Spider-Man, and then casts it aside, Eddie is horrified and furious. He takes matters into his own hands, becoming Venom, and forever destroying the friendship that both he and Parker had cultivated.
Emotionally compelling, dark, and intimate, the Ultimate version of Venom’s origin takes all of the best parts of the classic tale and injects new energy into them. If it is decided at some point to introduce Venom in a sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming, rather than his own film, the Ultimate story is practically designed for the big screen.
5. Venom the Politician, in Spider-Man: Reign
Kaare Andrews has written and illustrated some of the weirdest and most unique Spider-Man stories of all time, but the comic book Spider-Man: Reign was clearly a passion project for him. Set 35 years in the future, the series imagines a New York City controlled by the authoritarian dictator “Mayor” Waters, where the government clamps down on all rebellious and/or criminal activity through a military police force named the Reign. Peter Parker has been retired from the superhero business for many years, ever since Mary Jane died (of…reasons we won’t dive into here). Mayor Waters rules over New York with an iron fist.
Except… maybe Waters isn’t in control. In fact, he’s merely the pawn of his supposed aide, Edward Saks, a man who is himself little more than an unconscious host/victim of the still-living Venom symbiote, who has been the real force ruling New York since Spider-Man’s disappearance all those years ago. In the story’s grand finale, Spidey rises from the ashes to overthrow the oppressive regime, and climbs all the way to the top only to find himself face-to-face with Venom. But when they confront each other, the symbiote is not only filled with rage — but also sorrow, grief, and loneliness. All these years later, the symbiote is still bitter about the fact that Peter abandoned it. Knowing Peter’s mind inside and out, Venom rails at him, pointing towards the true reason for the animosity between it and Spider-Man:
“Yes! That’s it! My whole existence is about you! Why would you ever think that, Peter? Could it be because you brought me here, lured me from another world and left me to die!? Look at me, Parker! I am the one responsibility that you shirked! You brought me to this city and made me its prisoner!”
4. Animated Venom
Let’s face it, this may be the version of Venom that all those ’90s kids first fell in love with, and it could be a big reason for the villain’s continuing popularity today. When it came to introducing Venom, an event which marked the character’s first appearance outside of comics, the 1994 Spider-Man: The Animated Series wisely took its time. It developed Eddie Brock, charted his rise and fall, and finally told an epic three-part story about the black suit, culminating in the appearance of Venom: a scary, ruthless force of nature unlike anything Spider-Man had ever faced before. After his initial appearance, Venom was used sparingly, in order to maximize his impact, but he still flicked his tongue in the opening title theme of every episode.
The vastly underrated Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon also took a lot of care in introducing its version of Venom, largely basing most of its story on the Ultimate depiction. What both of these cartoons did successfully was taking out most of the unneeded complications from Venom’s story, sticking to the basics, and giving the villain room to breath. Classic stuff.
3. Venom in Spider-Man 3
And this now brings us to Venom’s cinematic debut, Spider-Man 3. The villain’s massive popularity among fans led to the studio forcing Sam Raimi to incorporate the character into his film, even though he’d already planned to use a version of the Green Goblin, Sandman, and the Vulture. As a result, Vulture’s spot was dropped in favor of Venom, and Raimi tried to make the character work for the storyline he already had planned.
Unfortunately, this resulted in Eddie Brock’s story arc feeling rather crammed. Venom was given no time to stalk Peter Parker’s life from the shadows, and the final battle was wedged in among various other conclusions with Harry Osborn and Sandman. Venom’s big moment didn’t have the breathing room that the character deserved, especially when compared to the fleshed out story arcs given to Doctor Octopus and Norman Osborn before him, though he did snap a couple of iconic moments.
However, what little Venom we did see lined up pretty closely with the Venom from the comics, showing glimpses of what a properly Venom-focused movie could have been. Though the miscast Topher Grace wasn’t the bodybuilder of his comic book counterpart, he did capture Brock’s hypocritical snideness, and the symbiote storyline itself followed a path fairly similar to that of the animated series, as well as Venom’s early appearances in the comics. Besides that, the costuming and animation team did an excellent job adapting Venom’s appearance to film, creating what was absolutely a visually memorable character.
2. Venom from the Short Film “Truth in Journalism”
So far, crazy as it might sound, the best cinematic Venom to date was featured not in a big studio release, but instead, a small fan film. Truth in Journalism, a short film directed by Joe Lynch and produced by Adi Shankar, stars Ryan Kwanten as Eddie Brock. Truth in Journalism is a gritty, black and white documentary-style flick patterned after Man Bites Dog, which depicts the found footage of a documentary crew following around reporter Eddie Brock as he lectures them about the morals of proper journalism, all while unknowingly revealing his own moral failings.
The film is like a behind the scenes look at Venom, from Venom’s perspective. It’s clearly set in the early days of his career, and it shows an Eddie Brock desperate for the film crew’s validation, while frequently misrepresenting himself and making excuses for it. Kwanten’s Brock is both likable and obnoxious, but very realistic, and very true to the comics.
The film’s climax depicts the film crew finally coming head to head with Brock’s symbiotic alter ego, which up until this point he has kept a secret from them. The final scene is quick, dark, and straight out of a horror film. If Sony wants tips on how to approach a big screen Venom, this is the right place to start.
1. The Original Concept of Venom
We all know that the original Venom was Eddie Brock, failed reporter. His first appearance in the comics was unforgettable. But hints of the villain’s arrival were being set up in the comics for quite some time before the big guy finally made his appearance. In fact, back when the writers were initially planting clues for the character that would become the new host of Spidey’s rejected symbiote, that big guy wasn’t actually a guy at all.
That’s right: originally, Venom was supposed to be a woman. Back when David Michelinie was first coming up with the concept which he would later flesh out with Todd McFarlane’s art, he wanted Venom to be female villain.
The backstory that Michelinie developed was a tragic one: this woman, as it turns out, is pregnant with her first child, and about to give birth. Her husband is trying to rush her to the hospital, and runs into the road trying to hail a cab. But up in the sky, Spider-Man is busy fighting a supervillain, and a distracted cabbie runs right over him. The woman watches her husband die in front of her, then goes into labor, and loses her child as well. She ends up in a psych ward, but after getting out, she lays all of the blame for her family’s death on Spider-Man. Combine that passionate rage with an equally passionate symbiote, and well… you know the rest.
When Michelinie pitched this idea to editor Jim Salicrup, the editor liked the idea, but he wanted the antagonist to be male. So Eddie Brock was born, and the rest is history. But it’s interesting to ponder; what would Spider-Man and Venom’s rivalry look like today, if the original story had been adapted?
What other crazy, wacky, and bizarre versions of Venom did we miss? Let us know in the comments!