With the announcement of a “Venom” film slated for release next year, speculation about the character’s position within the existing Marvel movie roster has swung into high gear. Thus far, very little is known about the new project, including whether it's attached to the MCU-proper as the announcement only made mention of Sony Pictures. However, given the recent addition of Peter Parker to the Marvel Cinematic Universe via “Captain America: Civil War,” and the imminent arrival of “Spider-Man: Homecoming” later this year, it seems unlikely that a “Venom” film would land anywhere but within the shared continuity -- particularly not with not one, but two perfect opportunities for the Symbiote’s introduction sitting right there, just over the horizon.
Spidey In Space
Not many details are known about “Avengers: Infinity War” at this point. The cast is massive, it’s a two-part story, and the filming for both is taking place back to back across March and April. Presumably, it’s going to pay off the MCU's five years worth of Thanos teasing. Also presumably, it’s going to involve some space travel, as can be expected by the inclusion of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Thanos' traditional lurking in deep space when on-screen.
Earlier this year, a “first look” teaser was released by Marvel featuring some behind the scenes look at the earliest stages of filming, including Tom Holland who, alongside Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Pratt, was briefly interviewed while standing in front of a massive green screen stage. While Downey Jr's Tony Stark is coming into both “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and “Avengers: Infinity War” with an established rapport with Holland’s Peter Parker, Pratt’s Star-Lord is a wild card in the situation. The three filming on the same day, in the same location, is obviously no guarantee of shared scenes, of course, but the potential for a not-so-Earth-bound future for both Peter and Tony is certainly there, as implied by both the stage’s otherworldly decor and Star-Lord’s obvious link to the cosmic side of the MCU.
The Venom Symbiote’s extraterrestrial origin was first established in the comics in 1984, within the “Secret Wars” maxi-series which saw the Symbiote initially bond with Peter Parker after his costume was destroyed during the fight on the Beyonder’s Battleworld planet. The initial appearance of the creature was in the form of a semi-innocuous black costume that came equipped with extra abilities and powers that gradually made its sentience (and insanity) known. Later, within the continuity of the first live-action film franchise, in “Spider-Man 3,” the Symbiote was given a re-worked origin, arriving on Earth via a meteor before infecting both Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker and Topher Grace’s Eddie Brock in turn.
It’s pretty unlikely “Infinity War” will lift its Venom origin directly from “Spider-Man 3,” but it’s also unlikely that it’ll deal specifically in the comic book history of “Secret Wars,” mostly thanks to the film's already massively dense case and laundry list of existing plot lines converging. However, allowing Pete to leave the planet for even a brief moment would provide a convenient (and decidedly more true to the comics) in-road for the Symbiote’s arrival on Earth.
Eagle-eyed fans have also noticed that Holland appears to be wearing black motion capture gloves in the behind-the-scenes video -- another potential indication that the infamous black suit may, at the very least, make a cameo in “Infinity War” before the two part series is complete.
If that logic holds, there would certainly be a hope for a Venom-centric stinger or post credits moment at the end of “Infinity War” to provide a smooth transition into a “Venom” movie.
The proposed release date of late 2018 for the “Venom” film does represent a bit of a timeline crunch for any direct inclusion in the currently filming MCU movies. With part one of “Infinity War” slated for release in May of 2018, teasing “Venom” though a post-credits scene would mean every aspect of the currently vaguely defined project would need to be solidified and well underway within the year for production to line up.
It’s definitely not impossible, but given the ambiguity of the announcement, it’s not exactly likely.
That said, the start of a Symbiote foreshadowing effort could be coming up even sooner than fans expect.
“Spider-Man: Homecoming” has already finished principal shooting, been given a trailer, and has a release date of just four months from now. In short, it’s a done deal, and thus far, none of the promotional material has given any indication of a Symbiote presence through the movie. However, the film just so happens to share a title with the issue of “The Amazing Spider-Man” where the black Symbiote costume made its first appearance (issue #252, “Homecoming!”) and will set about introducing Flash Thompson to the MCU (played by Tony Revolori of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” fame.)
With so much of its cast and plot details still left up in the air, despite its fast approaching release, a post-credits scene or series of Easter eggs involving the introduction of a mysterious, unnamed alien substance or black alternate costume would definitely not be out of the question for “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
In the comics, Flash Thompson didn’t take up the mantle of Agent Venom until adulthood, after a long and brutal military career that cost him both his legs from the knees down. At this point, Flash came into contact with the Venom Symbiote via the government's “super soldier” initiative. An eventual Symbiote connection for a high school-aged Flash in the MCU would most definitely be a change up for fans, but with an actor already locked into the role, it would certainly be an easily accessible character arc shorthand for viewers who are less honed in on Spider-Man continuity. Not to mention, skipping directly to Flash in the Venom role, however remixed away from his comic book origins, would be a quick way to circumvent some of the stigma and connection to the much maligned “Spider-Man 3.”
Of course, this could only work if both Sony and Marvel Studios have been working through “Venom” related plans for much longer than they’ve been letting on, but given the mysteries revolving around so much of Marvel Studio’s “phase three” efforts, the idea of a very well kept, extraterrestrial symbiotic secret is anything but far-fetched.