Venom and Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) from Sony's Venom movie officially prove they've had an impact with fans as the couple - called Symbrock - is named the top ship on Tumblr for the week ending Oct. 15. Prior to the release of Venom, fans were focused on whether the movie would connect to Marvel Studios' Marvel Cinematic Universe through Tom Holland's Peter Parker. It was a question that came up many times (many, many, times) during the promotional lead-up to Venom. But though there were rumors of Holland making a cameo in Venom, Hardy's solo anti-hero movie was essentially standalone. Venom even shied away from setting up Sony's Spider-Man spinoff universe.
Of course, once Venom was revealed to be its own thing, fans latched onto other things about the movie. Some fans sided with critical reviews of Venom, while others were charmed by the dynamic between Venom and Eddie Brock. The relationship between Venom and Eddie inspired comparisons to rom-coms. After all, some of Venom's lines about Eddie are sentimental, even downright romantic, and the two do share a kiss when the symbiote is transferred from Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) back to Eddie. As a result, it comes as little surprise that the internet is "shipping" (when fans actively support a romantic relationship between characters) Eddie and Venom - so much so that they've topped a list of most shipped online couples.
Tumblr does a weekly roundup called "Week in Review" where the site's Fandometrics team breaks down analytics from across the site to determine what's popular with users each week. For the week ending in Oct. 15, Symbrock, the ship name for Eddie and Venom, debuted on Tumblr's Top Ships list in the #1 spot. As reported by Syfy Wire, Fandometrics takes into account original posts, like, reblogs and comments on text posts, fan art and other forms of fandom-related content. Amanda Brennan, Fandometrics’ Senior Content Insights Manager, told Syfy Wire, "I knew this was coming, but not at this volume. And watching it unfold is fascinating."
According to Fandometrics, Venom was also the most popular general topic on Tumblr for the week ending Oct. 15, with Syfy Wire reporting the specific topic of Symbrock saw a "67 percent increase in engagement" for that week. In terms of whether Symbrock has staying power on Tumblr, Brennan believes the pairing will get more popular before an inevitable dip. As for why it took nearly two weeks after Venom hit theaters for the Symbrock ship to make Fandometrics' Top Ships list, Brennan explained there's a kind of delay before the hype truly hits on Tumblr. So it takes time for something to gain traction, but as evidenced by these new analytics, Symbrock has become a massively popular topic on Tumblr.
Plenty of the posts in the Symbrock tag on Tumblr feature original fan art drawn by the social networking site's users. When asked about the nature of the Venom fan art - which ranges from sweet domestic scenes to NSFW pornographic pieces - Brennan said:
It's exploring this kind of absurdity of this thing that is, in the comics, very negative and trying to control you, but also it's kinda soft. Exploring the softness of the monster is kind of a big trope that I've seen. … It's this exploration of monsterness while still being cute and soft. There's a lot of the trope of dark and light - Eddie Brock as a human and normal and then a lot of playfulness with that humanity versus monsterness and a lot of [Venom saying] 'You are mine’ and the symbiote taking care of Eddie.
Considering Venom has only been in theaters for a few weeks, and more moviegoers will inevitably check it out once it hits home release, it's unlikely Symbrock will go away anytime soon. Certainly, as Brennan said, the ship may become even more popular in the coming weeks and months. As such, more fan art and fan fiction will surely be posted and Tumblr will continue to be full of images of Venom and Eddie.
As for what's next for the characters on the big screen, Sony hasn't announced Venom 2 yet, but Venom clearly set up Carnage to be the villain of the sequel. While moviegoers who weren't a fan of Venom may not be excited to see the titular symbiote battle another evil symbiote, fans who latched onto the relationship of Eddie and Venom may be eager to see more of their dynamic on screen. Especially if it looks something like this (though it probably won't):