Although at first blush Sony's first official look at Venom seems downright mundane, depicting star Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock in his everyday clothing, a closer inspection appears to confirm key details about the film's plot and its Marvel Comics source material.
In Spider-Man lore, Brock is a disgraced journalist who becomes host to an alien Symbiote that bonds with him, transforming him into Venom, the wildly popular supervillain turned, in more recent decades, antihero. In the movie image, Brock stands with his reporter's notebook open, presumably while conducting an interview. Zooming in on those pages reveals three questions:
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 us to volunteer for the tests that end up [...] them?
That second question isn't particularly illuminating on its own, but the other two all but confirm previous reports that Venom is based, at least in part, on Venom: Lethal Protector. In the 1993 Marvel Comics miniseries, Brock strikes a deal with Peter Parker, and leaves New York City for San Francisco. There, he encounters the Life Foundation, a shadowy corporate survivalist group that's so convinced that civilization will end in a nuclear holocaust that it begins planning a future utopian society for its wealthy clients.
Part of the group's elaborate scheme involves the creation of five horrific symbiotes forcibly spawned from Venom: Scream, Phage, Riot, Lasher and Agony, expected to play central roles in the Sony film.
Although not all of those details are likely to end up in Venom, the notebook suggests the film's version of the Life Foundation is at the very least involved in unethical, if not illegal, testing, perhaps in bid to create additional symbiotes, or alien/human hybrids. The "allegations" about what the company is built upon could refer to any number of things, naturally.
These latest details follow the emergence last month of a photo from the film's set that identified Riz Ahmed (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Carlton Drake, rather than the frequently rumored Cletus Kasady, aka Carnage. Introduced in 1988 in The Amazing Spider-Man #298, Drake is the head of the Life Foundation, and instrumental in capturing Venom and extracting the five other symbiotes from him. Separately, Drake helped to rebuild the robot Tri-Sentinel and funded the Arachnis Project, with the intent of creating a race of Homo Arachnis. He was himself injected with the serum and transformed into a monstrous Homo Arachnis.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer from a script by Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg, Venom stars Tom Hardy, Jenny Slate, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed. The film arrives Oct. 5, 2018.