Warning: SPOILERS Below For Venom!
Spider-Man may not exist in Venom but does Superman exist instead? The titular alien symbiote bonds with reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) in director Ruben Fleischer's new film, which Sony hopes will launch their own live-action Spider-Verse, albeit without the amazing web-slinger at its center. While a clip from the upcoming Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse animated film after the credits is the only reference to Venom makes to Spider-Man, Venom instead left fans' tongues wagging with an offhand reference to the Man of Steel!
In Venom, a Life Foundation space probe owned by villainous billionaire Carleton Drake (Riz Ahmed) brings four alien symbiotes to Earth. Eddie Brock is lured to investigate the Life Foundation's practice of kidnapping homeless people in San Francisco and using them to test the symbiotes' ability to bond with humans, which kills them. Brock inadvertently bonds with a symbiote calling himself Venom and begins manifesting serious medical issues, which he attributes to his having "a parasite". Eddie's worsening condition worries his ex-fiancée Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), who enlists her new boyfriend Dr. Dan Lewis (Reid Scott) to examine Eddie.
Here's where Superman is suddenly referenced: After Eddie and Venom break into his TV network to deliver proof of Carlton Drake's criminal activity, Anne rescues Eddie from being captured by the Life Foundation's mercenaries and she sees Venom possessing Eddie's body. While driving away, Anne and Eddie converse about what's happening to him and they discuss the weaknesses of the symbiote (while Venom, in turn, hilariously counsels them on their relationship issues). Brock reveals Venom is vulnerable to sonic attacks (and Venom chimes in he can also be weakened by fire). Anne then says that's Eddie and Venom's "Kryptonite".
Now, it's commonplace to call someone's weakness their 'Kryptonite' - but only if Superman exists. The Man of Steel is invulnerable to most forms of harm, but the one substance that can kill him is Kryptonite, the radioactive remains of his destroyed home planet of Krypton. Saying something is someone's Kryptonite is shorthand, much like calling a weakness their 'Achilles' Heel'; however, at this point, 'Kryptonite' is probably the more widely-used vernacular. But again, it doesn't make sense to call someone's weakness their 'Kryptonite' as without the context of Superman.
This doesn't mean fans can expect to see Superman cross over into any future Venom or Sony film. Sony making a deal with Warner Bros. to use Superman or even run this reference by them is also probably not the case. After all, 'Kryptonite' is also a real-life brand name - there are Kryptonite-brand padlocks, for example, and krypton is a chemical element on the periodic table of elements. However, Anne used it as a reference to weakness, which definitely derives from Superman.
The most likely scenario is Superman does exist in Venom's universe, but as a fictional character, just as he does in the real world. Therefore, calling someone's weakness their Kryptonite is as commonplace as it would be in real life. This isn't unprecedented in superhero movies; for example, at the start of the opening credits of Zack Snyder's Watchmen, the cover of Detective Comics #27 (the first appearance of Batman) can be seen on a wall as the first Nite-Owl punches out a thug, signifying that a movie superhero universe can also have other famous superheroes existing, but as fictional characters. However, Watchmen and DC's heroes are all owned by Warner Bros.; Sony's Venom referenced a competitor studio's character, albeit indirectly.
There's also a second, even subtler reference to Superman in Venom: In the final battle between Eddie/Venom and Carlton Drake, who is possessed by the evil symbiote called Riot, Eddie performs a running jump into a punch onto the villain. That move is called a Superman Punch, made famous by WWE wrestler Roman Reigns. So even though the symbiote antihero successfully establishes his own franchise without Spider-Man, it's Superman who inadvertently looms large over Venom.
- Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018
- Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) release date: Dec 14, 2018