Let’s go back in time for this one. Cue 10-year-old Evan Valentine enthusiastically opening up one of his first comic books. In Amazing Spiderman #300, the world, and myself, was introduced to a character who would have a lasting impact on the comic book world. His name was Venom. With the recent announcement that Sony Pictures is moving forward with a spinoff movie from the Spider-Man franchise starring everyone’s favorite symbiote, I wanted to take this opportunity to run through Venom’s history, character, and ideas for what could make Venom’s second big screen appearance work. Hit the jump for more.
Who Is Venom?
Much like any comic book character being brought into mainstream media, Venom’s origin has changed from interpretation to interpretation. At his core though, he is essentially a giant, twisted, horrific version of Spider-Man. Originally, Venom was made up of an alien costume (brought over from a series entitled Secret Wars) that Spider-Man wore for a time before realizing it was actually alive. Rejecting the suit, it lashed out and grew a hatred for Spider-Man and merged with a guy named Eddie Brock, a reporter who had been inadvertently discredited by Spidey and swore revenge.
After a few stories in which Venom tormented poor old Peter Parker, his star began to shine brighter than even the protagonist he fought, and it was decided by Marvel Comics at the time that Eddie would get his own series. Dubbed “The Lethal Protector”, Venom began fighting crime in San Francisco and had a series of comics where he fought Juggernaut, an army of tiny green goblins, worked as an agent of the government, and grew extra tiny heads. The 90’s were weird is what I’m saying. From there, Venom drifted in and out of the role of hero and villain, and it was then decided that the symbiote would need to find a new host. Eddie Brock was cast to the curb and Mac Gargan, former Spider-Man villain, The Scorpion, was given his shot to be the man behind the teeth. After fighting Spider-Man on a few occasions, and being a member of the Dark Avengers, Gargan’s time as Venom eventually came to an end as well.
Recently, the symbiote has been hanging out with former Peter Parker bully/friend, Flash Thompson who has been using the symbiote for good! Working on missions for the government after losing his legs in the Middle East, Thompson had his own series as Venom and even joined the ranks of Marvel’s Secret Avengers. It has recently been announced that he will soon be joining the Guardians of the Galaxy. Sometimes even I don’t know how I keep up with all this!
In the Ultimate Marvel universe, which is essentially a retelling of their universe with a modern twist, Venom was actually the result of Peter and Eddie’s fathers creating, what they thought was, the cure for cancer. “The Suit” as it was called, was a science experiment that Eddie had been holding onto as part of his “legacy”, which found itself attached to Peter. The suit acted more as a vampire than anything else, sucking the life from people in order to feed it, and rather than looking like a bigger, more sinister version of Spider-Man, it looked like a monster.
I mention the “Ultimate” version of Venom because the recent Amazing Spider-Man franchise has taken most of its cues from the modern retelling of the story, rather than the old continuity. The franchise has also decided to focus more of itself on the mystery surrounding Peter’s parents, and since this version of Venom is deeply entrenched in their history, it seems like a no brainer that this will be the version we’re presented with. Sorry comic fans, we’ll probably never see Spider-Man get the symbiote from fighting a handful of super villains on “Battle World”, but you can always dream.
How to Make Venom Work?
So I can assume that we’ve all seen Spider-Man 3 at this point? For the 1 percent of people who are reading this article and haven’t, this was the film debut of Venom in a Spider-Man movie, played by Topher Grace. I’ll get this right out of the way, the movie itself was something of a disappointment to say the least, with too many elements stampeding all over each other. There was just too many plotlines and subplots moving throughout this film (Oh man, that Butler was the worst, to say nothing of the dance sequence). HOWEVER, I genuinely thought Topher Grace gave a good performance as Eddie Brock. Granted, he wasn’t exactly the musclebound threat that you saw Eddie Brock as in the comics, but he got the spirit of the character down. Brock was, by nature, a liar and he twisted events in his head to make them fit into whatever direction he wanted to move in. His blaming of Spider-Man came from his inability to take responsibility for mistakes he made in his own life.
We don’t have all of the details yet as to how Venom will be portrayed in the movies, or even if he’ll appear in a Spider-Man movie before he stars in his own movie, but there are a few things that filmmakers can keep in mind while creating the character to really knock it out of the park:
- First, make Venom scary. Before Venom became super popular and was made into an anti-hero, he would show up at Peter Parker’s house and help Aunt May fold laundry, while every time she turned around, he would smile and wave the symbiote around Peter, proving not only how nuts he was, but how terrifying the idea behind him was. Venom isn’t a villain who Spider-Man can just punch away and hope for the best, he presents a legitimate threat that gives Peter nightmares. He also has no other motive than seeing Spider-Man dead. No thoughts of world domination or robbing banks, Venom is out for one thing and one thing only, Spider-Man’s head.
- Second, keep Venom scary. More than likely, Venom’s solo film will see him as the protagonist, but this doesn’t mean he has to be the hero. Sure, he can still fight crime, but you need to remember above all else, Eddie Brock is insane! Even when he is fighting crime, he’s still killing any criminal he finds and having full blown conversations with his costume on a regular basis. There’s a fan made film entitled, “Truth in Journalism” which we had highlighted awhile back that gives a pitch perfect interpretation of Eddie Brock which the movies should attempt to adhere to.
- Lastly, make Venom his own character. In the Spider-Man franchise that we’ve seen so far, nearly every villain, with the exception of Sandman, has been made to be “Peter Parker if he had gone wrong”. We get it already, we’ve been down that road enough times. There’s an important distinction to keep in mind that while Venom is a dark version of Spider-Man, Eddie Brock isn’t a dark version of Peter Parker. There are similarities to be sure, but the two are completely different characters and should be treated as such.
It’s an exciting time to be a comic book fan, and I’m looking forward to seeing what tricks Sony Pictures have up their sleeves for bringing Venom back to the mainstream audience.