WARNING: The following article contains minor spoilers for director Ruben Fleischer's Venom, in theaters now.
Sony's interest in a Venom dates back more than two decades, but really began to take shape in 2007 with Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3, which introduced Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote with the intentions of launching a spinoff. Of course, that never materialized, nor did the expanded cinematic universe seeded with 2014's The Amazing Spider-Man 2. But four years later, Venom is finally arriving in theaters, albeit in a radically different environment -- one in which Sony controls the film rights to the iconic wall-crawler, but Peter Parker has been firmly entrenched in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2016. That's led to endless speculation, and just as much confusion, as to whether Tom Holland's Spider-Man might appear in Venom.
Spoiler alert: He doesn't.
The problem, such as it is, stems from the 2015 collaborative agreement that introduced Spider-Man to the MCU with Captain America: Civil War, followed by the acclaimed 2017 franchise reboot Spider-Man: Homecoming, co-produced by Marvel Studios, which co-starred Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. It's an unusual arrangement in which Sony finances, distributes and co-produces the Spider-Man movies, and retains final creative control, but Marvel takes the lead. That's resulted in a never-ending series of questions about which ancillary Spider-Man characters exist in the MCU, which are in Sony's so-called Spider-Verse, and whether there's any overlap.
It's a murky situation that not even Sony Pictures seemed quite certain about, at least when it came to Venom. Producer Amy Pascal initially said in June 2017 that Spider-Man: Homecoming exists in the same cinematic universe as Venom and what was then planned as Silver & Black. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige then clarified Spider-Man is the only Sony-controlled hero who exists in the MCU. They eventually ended up on the same page, sort of. So, what else was Venom producer Matthew Tolmach to do besides repeatedly dodge the question about the film's potential links to Spider-Man?
Although the writing was on the wall a year ago, rumors persisted about a potential Peter Parker cameo, buoyed by a purported sighting of Holland on the Venom set. Even when the first trailer pointed to a new origin that doesn't involve Spider-Man, and the loss of the symbiote's white spider-emblem, fans still held onto the possibility that the web-slinger might swing by Venom, even if only in the post-credits scene.
However, he doesn't. That's not to say the two characters might not cross over, eventually. According to one report, the possibility of an eventual appearance by Spider-Man is why Sony opted for a PG-13 rating for Venom. For now, though, there's no webhead.
Opening Friday nationwide, director Ruben Fleishcer’s Venom stars Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Woody Harrelson, Sope Aluko, Scott Deckert, Marcella Bragio, Michelle Lee, Mac Brandt, Christian Convery, Sam Medina and Ron Cephas Jones.