Releasing in October this year, Venom will be the first film in Sony’s planned series of Spider-Man villain spinoffs. Sony has tried to adapt the tongue-slavering symbiote for the big screen before, but this time fans are hopeful that the studio will get it right. Tom Hardy will star as Eddie Brock, and Hardy has revealed that the film will largely be inspired by one of Venom’s most popular comic books miniseries, Venom: Lethal Protector.
Sony has just begun the marketing push for Venom, and today the studio released the first official still from the movie. It shows Eddie Brock at work as a journalist in San Francisco, clearly heading to an interview, with a notebook open to a page on which he’s scrawled three important questions. The text is difficult to read, but it drops major clues as to the film’s plot.
“So how exactly does the Life Foundation go about testing its pharmaceuticals?”
“What about the allegations your Empire is built on?”
“That you recruit the most vulnerable of the volunteers for the tests that more often than not end up […] them?”
The last question is unfortunately obscured by Brock’s fingers, making it impossible to discern the missing word. The most likely options seem to be “killing” or “harming,” but it’s tough to say. Whatever that word may be, though, it’s clearly not good.
The three questions will delight fans, because they all point straight to the Venom: Lethal Protector miniseries. They confirm longstanding rumors that the villains of Venom are actually the Life Foundation, and that we may well see five more symbiotes in the film.
What Is The Life Foundation and The Five Symbiotes?
In the comics, the Life Foundation were an organization who believed that the end of the Cold War would bring about a nuclear holocaust. They offered the wealthy a bolt-hole, a bunker in which they could survive the end of the world. When Venom crossed paths with one of their clients, CEO Carlton Drake saw a tremendous opportunity. He had Venom captured, and recognized that the Venom symbiote contained the “seeds” to create five more of its kind. Drake used these seeds to create five more symbiotes, intended to be the bunker’s elite police force.
Every one of those five symbiotes has become a recurring villain. The symbiotes also mutated, granting their hosts unusual powers. Scream could generate a so-called “sonic knife” and use her hair-like tendrils as a devastating weapon. Agony could absorb chemicals into herself (including Spider-Man’s webbing), and actually spit acid. Phage tended to form his symbiote into long, serrated blades, while Riot preferred hammers and maces. Finally, Lasher preferred creating tentacle-like tendrils on his back, whipping them out at his enemies.
The photo suggests that the plot of Lethal Protector has been subtly changed. In the comics, Eddie Brock was a disgraced ex-journalist who headed to San Francisco in order to build a new home for himself. The film has reinvented Brock as a journalist who’s still hard at work in his home city, and who investigates the Life Foundation. Riz Ahmed has already been confirmed as Carlton Drake, and his company has been reinvented as a pharmaceutical firm that’s conducting illegal tests. It seems likely that Brock will cause problems for Ahmed, and become an unwilling participant in Drake’s experiments. This will see him become a host for the Venom symbiote.
Will The Five Symbiotes Be In Venom Or A Sequel?
It’s become something of a superhero movie tradition for the hero (or antihero) to battle enemies who are his equal. Superman battles rogue Kryptonians in Man of Steel, Iron Man duels men in armor, and the Hulk stops the Abomination’s rampage. Modern superhero films enjoy creating films who are essentially a twisted mirror image of the hero. The approach makes it easy to shine a light on a hero’s character, motivations, and powerset.
In the case of Venom, Sony would be wiser to leave the five symbiotes for a sequel. Previous Spider-Man films have surely taught the studio to avoid introducing too many concepts and characters in the one movie. That same issue is visible in the Lethal Protector miniseries, which introduced the five symbiotes in the first place. While these villains are visually striking, they aren’t developed as characters until later on. It would be a shame to see Venom’s spawn introduced, and not developed.
The simple reality is that Venom already has to introduce a lot of concepts in a single movie. Viewers have to meet Eddie Brock for the first time, and the film must then reintroduce him after he has bonded with the Venom symbiote. The Life Foundation has to be fleshed out, and Drake’s motives must be explored. The science of the symbiotes has to be explained – including their weaknesses to sound and fire. Adding five more symbiotes into the mix would not be a wise move for Sony. Instead, the studio would be wiser to set that up for the sequel, perhaps in an end-credits scene.
It will be fascinating to see how Sony adapt Venom’s story for the big screen. Although producer Matthew Tolmach has been dodging questions about Spider-Man, there’s currently no evidence the webhead will appear in the film. That means this origin story will be very different to anything superhero fans have ever seen before. Sony clearly believe the film can work, and that their story will win fans over. Viewers will make up their own minds in October, when Venom hits the big screen.
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