It’s always fascinating in superhero comics when the good guys go bad. Whether it’s body swap, mind control or good old-fashioned time travel shenanigans, at this point comics have done it all. It’s not just good guys going bad that’s fascinating either; anytime we see a different spin on a familiar character, it’s enough to grab our attention and never let go. Alternate universes, evil doppelgangers, different dimensions -- whatever excuse writers can come up with is fine with us, as long as we get to see a fresh new take on an old favorite.
Marvel and DC explore alternate versions of their characters so often, they even have names for it: for Marvel, it’s What If comics, for DC it’s Elseworlds -- each company’s explorations of the strange and implausible have yielded excellent results. What if, however, you have one single character, that by their very nature can alter any other into a darker version of themselves? Well, then you’d have the Lethal Protector himself, Venom. One of the most popular Spider-Man villains of the last 35 years has often been seen taking over the bodies and minds of hero and villain alike with his symbiotic alien parasite. Seeing Venom in action has got writers, artists and fans alike all wondering just how much darker (and, let’s face it, cooler) their favorite heroes would be if they had a little Venom inside them. Even if it’s not been seen in canonical issues, that’s not stopped people from recreating classic heroes with fresh, new, Venomized personas!
The Mutant Master of Magnetism, Erik “Magnus” Lehnsherr has been a villain, a hero, an X-Man, a leader and a survivor ever since his introduction in 1963’s X-Men #1. Over the years, he’s risen to become one of the more multi-faceted of the X-Men’s roster, and that’s in no small part thanks to his cinematic portrayals.
Whether it’s Sir Ian McKellen or Michael Fassbender that holds a place in your heart (why not both?), there’s something extremely cool about Magneto. Throw in the Venom symbiote, however, and you not only elevate the cool, but you create a truly deadly super-mutant.
“I am Venom!” It’s common knowledge that the Venom symbiote, while nothing without a host, actually does have sentience of its own, and as such always seeks out strong candidates to bond with, whether on Earth or from the depths of outer space.
When Agent Venom joined the Guardians of the Galaxy, Flash Thompson started losing control of the symbiote, forcing them to seek out its home planet. Before they got there, however, the errant Klyntar bonded with Groot, making him terrifying and cool in equal measures.
23 IRON MAN
Tony Stark is a billionaire playboy philanthropist with the brains to invent a super suit in the middle of the desert, and a thriving weapons technology empire to fund his wildest dreams of being a hero. So what more could he need?
Well, if he had the Venom suit, he’d harness powers that even he couldn’t invent! And let’s face it: the symbiote gets a lot out of this deal too. Aside from looking extremely cool, it gets to bond with one of the most powerful Avengers ever.
22 BLACK PANTHER
The King of Wakanda already wears a black suit that allows him to fully embrace his superheroic side, so how would a Venom symbiote improve upon that? Well, by allowing him to tap into the more animalistic side of his nature, and truly let the Black Panther loose, T'challa would become all the more powerful!
He may lose the respect of his people if he started eating them, but with razor-sharp alien claws, venomous fangs and the ability to swing from organic webbing, he would arguably become the most formidable king Wakanda has ever seen.
21 RED HULK
Can you improve upon a beast genetically bred to beat the Hulk? Well, in the "Circle of Four" crossover event from 2012, that’s exactly what happened when Rulk, Agent Venom, Ghost Rider and X-23 went head to head with Blackheart, the demonic son of Mephisto.
Alone, they were unable to make a dent, and even working as a team wasn’t cutting it. The only way to defeat the Prince of the Underworld was to bond Red Hulk not only with the Venom symbiote but the Spirit of Vengeance too, making Red Hulk the coolest new Ghost Rider Venom.
20 CAPTAIN MARVEL
Carol Danvers is already one of the coolest superheroes in Marvel’s roster, thanks to her being one of the most powerful beings in the known universe. When the Captain Marvel movie hits in 2019, her star will no doubt rise ever higher (especially if she’s the savior of Avengers 4 like the end of Avengers: Infinity War suggests).
How much cooler would she get, however, if she had the powers of Venom? While we’re confident that a strong-willed hero like Carol would resist the urge to eat people like Venom does, she would certainly scare the villains into thinking she would.
19 IRON FIST
Danny Rand, the rich white boy heir of the Rand business empire, lost his parents in a climbing expedition to find the mystical city of K'un L'un. Danny is taken in by the mystics of the mystical city and becomes their apprentice, learning their martial arts and becoming the powerful Iron Fist.
Now the star of his own Netflix show, Iron Fist is potentially more popular than ever; however, he could still do with being cooler. Imagine the powerful force of The Living Weapon mixed with the Lethal Protector himself, Venom, and you have a deadly combination.
It’s a question that many comic book writers (and fans) have wrestled with over the years: Can you make Wolverine cooler? Sure, he’s one of the more overexposed of the X-Men cast, and some would say he’s overrated, but maybe that’s just because he needs to be cooler.
Enter: Venom Wolverine. You’ve seen him as a feral beast, and you’ve seen him as an old man, heck you’ve even seen him with one hand in a bleak, dystopian future. Now though, you can see Wolverine as a deadly alien symbiote monster, with adamantium claws and a taste for flesh.
It’s rare to want to find ways to improve on Batman. The creation of Bill Finger and Bob Kane is such a foundational character in superhero fiction, that once the final touches were added to him -- the car, the Boy Wonder, the cave -- he was practically perfect.
Add a little bit of alien symbiosis, however, and you’ve cranked up the cool factor. Thanks to DeviantArtist Corazon-Alro4, the Dark Knight can not only strike fear into the cowardly and superstitious criminals of Gotham, he can eat them too!
The Merc With the Mouth can truly earn that nickname once he’s possessed by the Venom symbiote. In fact, that moniker takes on a whole new meaning when you’re looking at a Deadpool with a mouth three times the size and filled with venomous fangs and a prehensile tongue.
In the miniseries Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars, it was revealed that prior to Spider-Man finding the black costume back in 1985’s Secret Wars, Deadpool happened upon it, meaning that technically he’s Venom’s first host, making this one of the more canonically correct entries on the list.
15 GHOST RIDER
Any version of Ghost Rider is already fairly demonic, what with the flaming skull and epic ride (be it motorbike, car or horse), and, y'know, the fact that he is possessed by a literal freaking demon!
Adding the Venom symbiote into the mix would only serve to add vicious alien icing onto the flaming demonic cake. Who knows if the bloodthirsty Klyntar would even get along with the Spirit of Vengeance if they both inhabited one body -- chances are there would be a lot of lobbying for control -- but that's a struggle we'd love to see play out!
Looking like he truly earns the sobriquet “The Destroyer,” Drax possessed by the Venom symbiote is not only cool to look at but downright horrific to boot. This happened in the Guardians of the Galaxy Storyline “Planet of the Symbiotes,” when Venom ran riot possessing each of the Guardians in turn.
Drax’s sole mission in life -- why he was created, in fact -- is to destroy Thanos. If he bonded with the Venom symbiote, he’d be closer than ever before to achieving his goal.
13 CAPTAIN AMERICA
The Sentinel of Liberty is far too strong-willed to allow the Venom symbiote to overwhelm him and allow it to completely bond, but in the last few years, we’ve seen a Captain America brainwashed by Hydra, so maybe anything’s possible.
Aside from looking awesome, giving Cap the symbiote would only increase his ability to fight crime. Also, imagine the surprise it would give the Red Skull if the next time he comes up against Steve Rogers, he’s met with a symbiote-enhanced Super Soldier with a mouth full of fangs and an appetite for Hydra goons.
“The Most Dangerous Woman in the Galaxy” would become a whole lot more dangerous if she was possessed by the Venom Symbiote. Both individuals in this pairing are deadly on their own, but when combined they’d be nigh unstoppable.
Whether it’s the version of Gamora from the comics or the one seen in the movies, bonding with Venom wouldn’t just look cool, as you can see in the above image, it would also make her one of the biggest threats the galaxy has ever seen.
When Jean Grey became Dark Phoenix, the world was exposed to a brand new Omega-level mutant, capable of destroying the planet, a fact that she proved when she consumed a star and indirectly ended billions of lives on a nearby planet in Shi'ar space.
It’s unclear at this level of power just what the Venom symbiote could bring to the table. In her Dark Phoenix form, Jean is pretty much the most powerful mutant in existence. What we can say for certain, however, is that bonding Phoenix to Venom looks extremely cool.
A lot of people have slept on this character, which is a big mistake. As she is relatively new to Marvel Comics, most people assume that Gwenpool is a version of Gwen Stacy that’s somehow mixed with Deadpool (which to be fair, is where she came from, being a Gwen Stacy variant cover of an issue of Deadpool).
In fact, she’s Gwen Poole, a girl from our (real) universe that got sucked into comics and now has meta, fourth-wall breaking knowledge of Marvel heroes. There’s no denying she’s already fun, but giving her the Venom symbiote may be just what she needs to elevate her cool factor.
Nathan Christopher Charles Summers Dayspring Askani’son, aka Cable, has become more of a household name recently thanks to his appearance in Deadpool 2. Even before that, though, he’s been a prominent part of the X-Men universe since his introduction in the ‘90s.
The very epitome of ‘90s superheroes, Cable sports a giant gun, a cybernetic arm, muscles on his muscles and far too many pouches to count. The only way to make him cooler is to mix him with another popular character from ‘90s comics: Venom.
8 ALL-NEW WOLVERINE
Laura Kinney used to be X-23, a female clone of Wolverine that broke out from her genetically engineered life and took up a career as a superhero. More recently, she’s stepped into the role of Wolverine herself following Logan’s death in 2014. Of course, now that he’s returned to the living, she’s gone back to being X-23.
As the All-New Wolverine, Laura was the best replacement possible for the man himself, but give her the Venom symbiote and she becomes something more. As Venom, X-23 is something cooler, deadlier and far more unpredictable as an anti-hero. Mixing her volatility with Venom’s violence may not be a good idea.
7 DOCTOR STRANGE
The Master of Mysticism and the Sorcerer Supreme is already one of the most iconic --not to mention powerful -- Avengers characters there is, especially since the big screen interpretation has seen him combat Dormammu and Thanos in just his first couple of outings.
This version of Stephen is even stranger thanks to the Venom symbiote, which would no doubt make him even more physically formidable, to match his mystical prowess. Just as long as the Sorcerer Supreme doesn’t eat Wong, everyone will be happy.
Despite being the leader of the X-Men for a number of years and being one of the team's more hard working members, and despite his cool mutant power of shooting energy beams from his eyes, there’s no denying that Scott Summers has the reputation of being a little boring.
There’s nothing wrong with being a little square, but there’s a reason Wolverine finds it so easy to pick on Cyclops, and it’s not just because of a certain redhead. Imagine how much cooler ol’ Slim Summers would be if given the Venom symbiote, though. He could even give Logan a run for his money!
The original Hawkeye, Clint Barton has had an elevation of status in recent years, thanks to a number of factors. He’s always been an important part of the Avengers books (be it West Coast or regular), but thanks to a hit solo series by Matt Fraction and David Aja, and a vital role in the cinematic universe (played by Jeremy Renner), he’s a character known to millions of more fans around the world.
Aside from characters like the CW's Arrow, Robin Hood and Katniss Everdeen, however, the bow and arrow are never really regarded as the coolest weapons in a hero’s arsenal. Now, augment that most ancient of weapons with a brand new alien symbiote, and you’ve got a character that’s infinitely cooler and more powerful.
4 THE INHUMANS
Let’s face it: the Inhumans are never really anyone’s favorite. Never quite as cool as the X-Men, and never really being in many good stories outside of the Fantastic Four where they originated, Marvel have nevertheless tried to insist that the Inhumans were amazing for the last few years, by pushing them on both readers and viewers as often as they can.
If a canceled TV show proves anything, it’s that the Inhumans could do with being made cooler. That’s where the Venom symbiote comes in. Give each and every one of them a Klyntar symbiote and just watch the fans come running.
Ororo Munroe is the Goddess of the Storm and, even in her earliest days, was instantly one of the coolest X-Men, and arguably, perhaps one of the coolest Marvel characters period. Then writer Chris Claremont and artist Paul Smith debuted her punk-inspired look in Uncanny X-Men #193 -- complete with leather jacket and huge white mohawk -- and the cool just got cooler.
It’s this version of Storm that we want to see with the Venom symbiote. The rebellious, impulsive, fierce punk Storm would completely own the Venomized look, and woe betide any foe that stands in her way.
First introduced in Edge of Spider-Verse #2, Spider-Gwen is the nickname of Gwen Stacy from Earth 65, where she fights crime as Spider-Woman following a bite from a radioactive spider. When she first burst onto the scene, she lit up the fandom, and her awesome costume is still a popular choice among cosplayers.
Her appearance in the upcoming animated movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is only going to increase her popularity, but in the meantime, her cool factor can only be increased by doing what cosplayers have already done, and merge her look with that of the Venom symbiote. Stare with fear into the abyss of Gwenom!
“All who know fear, burn at the touch of Man-Thing!” For a number of years, Man-Thing has been relegated to the background of the Marvel Universe, probably due to the unfortunate double entendre surrounding his name (the less said about the Giant-Size Man-Thing comics the better).
The guardian of the Nexus of All Realities, Ted Sallis, aka Man-Thing, could do with an image change. No longer a forgotten denizen of the swamp, Man-Thing could bond with the Venom symbiote and be reborn as a much cooler character. A brand-new Man-Thing, if you will.