Some fans are upset the first look at Sony’s Venom doesn’t reveal the alien symbiote in all its glory (come on, gang, it’s a teaser), but, as with the seemingly bland photo released last month of Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, if you dig a little deeper into the footage, the teaser actually revealed some key details about the film.
In Marvel Comics continuity, the alien’s first human host was actually Spider-Man, who acquired what he initially believed to be wondrous (and harmless) new costume while trapped on a distant planet during 1984’s Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars. And so it was Peter Parker who brought the symbiote to Earth, where it soon attempted to permanently bond to his body. He rejected it and, with some help from the Fantastic Four, was able to free himself of the sentient goo.
Sony’s agreement with Marvel Studios permit them to co-produce Spider-Man films, and for Tom Holland’s Peter Parker to appear within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite persistent rumors, it’s not clear whether that deal might permit Spider-Man to swing into Venom, which requires the filmmakers to weave a Spider-Man-free origin. Judging from the teaser footage, they do just that, combining what looks to be the crash of an alien spaceship with a 2003 comic book retcon, of sorts.
What at first glance seems to be the aftermath of a fire or explosion is quickly revealed to be a crash site — only not of a plane, but rather some kind of alien craft, or a space shuttle of terrestrial origins. We can assume that’s how the symbiote finds its way to Earth, and then into the hands of the Life Foundation.
Introduced the 1993 miniseries Venom: Lethal Protector — one of the primary sources of inspiration for the film — the Life Foundation is 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.
We see the symbiote in undulating black-goo form, delivered in a cylinder to Riz Ahmed (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), who’s believed Life Foundation head Dr. Carlton Drake, and a phalanx of anxious scientists in lab coats. It remains to be seen whether the film’s version of the Life Foundation possesses the same doomsday bent as its Marvel Comics counterpart remains to be seen. However, we know from an inspection of that first Venom photo that the company produces pharmaceuticals, possibly through unethical (or illegal) means.
Here’s where Hardy’s Eddie Brock most likely comes into contact with the Life Foundation and the alien symbiote. As the photo suggests, the film is sticking with his comics backstory, as an investigative journalist. He’s clearly out to expose the Life Foundation, but we’re left to wonder whether his interests are strictly professional.
In the teaser, we’re shown numerous shots of Eddie in an MRI machine, accompanied by a voiceover that certainly suggests coming to terms with his life, and his own mortality. That’s certainly in keeping with the later Marvel Comics source material, in which it was revealed Eddie had cancer, which is at least part of the reason why the symbiote was drawn to him (previously, it was merely a shared hatred for Peter Parker). In Venom: The Hunger, we learn the symbiote is sustained by adrenaline, which is released by cancer.
Tying that all together, we’re able to reasonably speculate that in Venom, Eddie is diagnosed with cancer, and may turn to the Life Foundation in hopes of participating in a drug trial. In that first image, he’s scrawled “That you recruit the most vulnerable of us to volunteer for the tests that end up […] them?,” which implies he’s one of those vulnerable volunteers, but we’re still left to wonder what those obscured words might be. It’s certainly possible that the Life Foundation is injecting samples of the symbiote into test subjects in an effort to produce a miracle cure. If so, that would certainly explain the emergence of Scream, Phage, Riot, Lasher and Agony, as in Venom: Lethal Defender.
If that’s indeed the case, one of the key remaining questions is whether Eddie is purposely exposed to the symbiote by the Life Foundation, or if he accidentally encounters the alien during a covert investigation of the company. Well, that, and whether Tom Holland might pop up in Venom after all.
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.
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