The first full trailer for Venom has revealed a remarkably comic-book accurate take on the character - with the exception of a missing spider symbol. In the comics, Venom is well known for his pitch black costume, dominated by a sweeping white spider symbol upon his chest. The contrast between the two colors gives artists and colorists something to work with; rather than just be a creature of the shadow, Venom is a being of night and day.
Yet, while the rest of Sony's design is so very comic-book accurate, that doesn't seem to be the case here. We don't get a clear look at Venom's chest, so this can't be 100% confirmed, but based on the reveal at the end - which shows a side view of Brock's full body and him rearing up - there's no sign of the large, incredibly distinctive spider emblem. It looks like Hardy won't have that classic element.
In tonal terms, this "costume" change adjusts Venom's dynamic ever so slightly. He becomes that creature of the dark, the blacks of the symbiote fading into the darkness around him. Those savage white eyes become all the more dramatic; no doubt there will be scenes in the film where they'll stare out from the night, watching evil with deadly intent. The design change actually suits the film's tone and style, emphasizing the sinister nature of the symbiote that is barely held in check.
But why have Sony made this particular change, when the rest of the design is so comic book-accurate? And what does it mean for Venom's portrayal in the film?
The Spider Symbol Wouldn't Make Sense
There's been a lot of discussion over whether or not Venom - and, indeed, the rest of Sony's spider-villain spinoffs - are part of the MCU. Fans are keen to see Venom and Spider-Man go head-to-head, but is that where all this leads? In truth, though, it's obscured an important point - that, while the characters may be Spider-Man spinoffs, Sony is attempting to launch them as cinematic stars in their own right. Any Tom Holland cameo will really be little more than an Easter Egg, added in as a bit of fan-service. Spider-Man will not be part of Venom's big-screen origin story.
Given that's the case, the spider symbol simply doesn't make that much sense. In the original comic book story, the symbiote's first host was Peter Parker. The symbiote itself has never forgotten this; that's why it forms the insignia, why it generates webbing, and why Venom typically swings from the rooftops. Sony may be trying to do a comic-book accurate version of Venom, but they've had to cut the Spider-Man connection completely.
The Ultimate Comics Inspiration
But this approach isn't without comic book precedent. In the 2000s, Marvel launched a modernized "Ultimate Comics" universe that updated and reimagined their classic characters (which have in turn formed the background of the MCU). Importantly, the Ultimate version of the Venom symbiote was influenced far less by its brief time with Peter Parker. It had a new origin, and when Brock manifested the symbiote, it was an all-black creature, with no trace of the insignia upon its chest. The Ultimate Comics then portrayed the Venom symbiote as more of a monster, a being that could barely be controlled by Brock. Rather than settle for webs, the Ultimate version of Venom manifested powerful tendrils that could toss cars.
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The trailer carries that same sense of uncontrollable power and ferocity, and actually dials it up a notch. Brock is barely able to understand what's happening, and struggles to teach his symbiote morality. In one key scene, he attempts to force the symbiote to only prey upon criminals. Additionally, just as in the Ultimate Comics, the symbiote doesn't seem to manifest webbing; it settles for the same tendrils, using them to similar effect. It seems like we're dealing with this version, despite the Lethal Protector inspiration.
It's true that some purists will be disappointed that Venom's "costume" isn't entirely comic-book-accurate. At the same time, though, not only is that understandable - there's also a strong comic book precedent. The insignia is associated more closely with Spider-Man than it is with Venom, and it simply wouldn't be appropriate to reproduce it on the big screen.
- Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018
- Silver and Black (2019) release date: Feb 08, 2019