In the world of comics, there exist characters who manage to live forever despite creators and publishers seldom being able to utilize them in memorable storytelling for any great lengths of time. Think of how much merchandise Marvel sells based on The Punisher or Elektra versus how well their comics have sold. Top among these for Marvel is surely Venom, a '90s comics fixture and perennial Spider-Man foe who is perhaps eclipsed only by Punisher himself in terms of Marvel characters by now better known as t-shirt logos than as themselves.
Nonetheless, for over a decade, Sony Pictures has been trying to launch a Venom movie to no avail. But with the new Marvel-approved Spidey set to launch in Civil War, it looks like they're about to try it again.
Sony's new plan for Venom, announced today by THR, is apparently a solo feature set to be written by Edge of Tomorrow screenwriter Dante Harper. Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach (formerly the guiding hands of the central Spider-Man franchise at the studio) are reportedly behind the new project - which is being called "a franchise apart from and unrelated to" the continuity of the new Marvel Cinematic Universe-adjacent Spider-Man series.
That "unrelated" part is sure to raise eyebrows among Venom fans and the broader Spider-Man/Marvel fandom alike, as the characters would largely appear to be inseparable. And yet, that may be the point: A movie where Venom recognizably exists as a character, but without any Spider-Man connections would allow Tolmach and Arad a Spidey look-a-like franchise that they can develop on their own without having to involve the studio's bigger crossover dealings with Disney and the MCU. It's also likely that the project has been energized by the stunning success of Deadpool seeming to have proved a public appetite for darker stories about more aggressive figures in the superhero canon.
Ironically, the merger of Spider-Man with the Marvel Cinematic Universe might actually have helped solve one of the consistent roadblocks to Venom "working" in earlier Spider-Man films -- i.e., his fantastical sci-fi origin, which was difficult to pull off in a context where Spider-Man is the only superhero and central "unusual" part of his universe. In the comics, the Venom symbiote is found while Spidey was stuck on an alien world with other heroes during the Secret Wars crossover event (not to be confused with the new one); so it's not hard to imagine new Spider-Man Tom Holland unwittingly scooping up his new black threads during a more cosmic-scale guest-appearance with The Avengers (or the Guardians of The Galaxy?) before heading back to his own series to deal with the eventual Venom complications.
If the new Sony series does in fact divorce Venom completely from Spider-Man, it may mean they'll need to find a new origin and identity for the character. Traditionally, the first Venom was Eddie Brock, a rival Daily Bugle reporter to Peter Parker, while figures such as Mac Gargan (previously The Scorpion) and injured veteran Flash Thompson have taken up the mantle since -- with Thompson opting to use the symbiote powers (mostly) for good. Thus far, there's no indication which direction the new franchise will take, if and when it comes to fruition.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more on Venom and other upcoming superhero projects.