Back before The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Sony had closed a deal with Marvel Studios to share the rights to Spider-Man, allowing for the Webhead to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there were talks of making a expansive cinematic universe centred around Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man to compete with the MCU. Aside from making more Spider-Man titles, there were also plans to create a Sinister Six and Venom film.
Unfortunately with the lukewarm reception to TASM2, any such plans seemed like they had just gone down the drain, and a hack of Sony Entertainment in 2014 revealed that Sony and Marvel Studios were in talks to have Spider-Man appear in the upcoming film, Captain America: Civil War. Whilst the talks seemed to have stalled, the deal ended up getting closed, with Sony Pictures continuing to have final creative control over the Spider-Man films, but allowing for the new, uncast Spider-Man and other Spider-Man related characters to be able to appear in the MCU. Some months later, British actor Tom Holland was cast in the role. Sony’s dreams of a cinematic universe to rival the MCU, it seemed, were down the drain.
However today news broke that now that Sony had secured the future of its Spider-Man franchise, it’s looking to create a another, separate franchise based on Spider-Man villain Venom. Debuting in comics in 1998 and on the big screen in 2007 (Spider-Man 3) Venom is one of Spider-Man’s most iconic villains.
An alien symbiote (really more of a parasitic organism I think, but lets not get stuck over technicalities), Venom appears to be a formless, gooey black mass, which bonds on to the body of a host to survive. Through a series of unfortunate events, the hosts of the symbiote (the villainous ones, at any rate) have tended to hate Peter Parker both in and out of costume for some reason or another. One of the few villains Spider-Man regularly faces off against that he can’t simply defeat without strategic planning, Venom is one of his greatest foes, earning him the status of one of Spidey’s greatest enemies.
There are many incarnations of Venom – Eddie Brock, a discredited colleague at The Daily Bugle, whose career was ruined by Spider-Man, Mac Gargan, a villain formerly known as the Scorpion, and current host Flash Thompson, a school bully of Peter Parker turned close friend, now a government agent. One thing that all these incarnations have however, is a deep past with Spider-Man. It’s also unknown at this point in time which incarnation will be used for the project.
So how could Venom be expected to stand on his own – presumably separate from the MCU? Will there be another live-action Spider-Man? That seems rather unlikely, since Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios just cast Tom Holland as Spider-Man not even a year ago; introducing a new Spider-Man to the mix would just be confusing and nonsensical. How could Venom ever hope to stand on his own, let alone support his own franchise?
That’s probably what most fans – me included – thought when they heard of the announcement. But then I started to think – perhaps it is possible. While in the comics Venom is traditionally an villain with antiheroic tendencies, lately the character (the Flash Thompson version) is much more on the side of the angels, working for the government as Agent Venom in his own series. Even more recently, Venom has become a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. So even in the comics, the character is drifting away from its roots as a Spider-Man villain.
In Ultimate Marvel (basically an alternate universe to the main comics), the Venom symbiote isn’t an alien at all – rather, it is a bio-suit designed to heal hosts and cure cancer. Whilst Spider-Man was involved – in that his father was its co-creator and he was the most compatible for it, as well as its first host – it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to retcon that out in the movie, leaving the symbiote to fall into the hands of a new owner.
Having said that, I think that the Venom movie should be set in the MCU, but I’m heavily biased simply because I’m a Spidey fanboy and want to see a properly done Venom go up against a proper Spider-Man. What do you think? Can a solo Venom franchise – presumably separated from the MCU – work?