The new Venom trailer is finally here and it does one important thing the previous teaser did not: reveal Venom, the symbiotic organism comprised of alien goo and Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy). Where the teaser made it seem as though Eddie had some sort of sickness, the trailer definitely makes it clear what he and the Venom symbiote can do. Sure, it means some biotech goons are going to feel the sting of viscous tendrils, but that is par for the course when dealing with one of Marvel Comics’ key anti-heroes. But the trailer also offered a few more specifics to this vision of Venom, which is set a world apart from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the previous Spider-Man film cycles. So let’s take a look at the five things we learned from the new Venom trailer.
While a shot of the Golden Gate bridge appeared in the teaser, the full trailer clearly confirms the action will take place in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. It is a surprising change of venue for Eddie, whose comic book counterpart has spent much of his time located in Marvel’s New York. Granted, Eddie and the symbiote have gone on road trips before, and when the symbiote was bonded to Peter Parker’s old rival Flash Thompson, the pair even went into space to become a Guardian of the Galaxy. But in the case of this film, it is a major declaration: Venom stands apart from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Sony’s previous Spider-verse. Appearing previously in Spider-Man 3, both Eddie and the alien symbiote were New York through and through. Taking these characters out of their traditional milieu is an interesting choice as Manhattan and Marvel are synonymous. Although, it seems not all of New York is scrubbed away, as Michelle Williams appears to be putting on a New York accent.
Besides the change of venue, Eddie’s career has also been changed. Historically, Eddie was a photographer just like Peter Parker. In fact, he was a little too much like Parker, leading him to falsify a story. When it became clear Eddie implicated the wrong man in the Sin Eater case, Spider-Man swooped in to fix everything. Eddie, losing his job at the Daily Globe, was forced to work at the tabloids and became fiercely embittered against Spidey and Peter Parker. That anger made him uniquely suited for the alien symbiote when Peter cast it aside. But as seen in the trailer, Eddie is an investigative television reporter. It is unclear if he is freelance or working for a local station, but it means he is an on-air personality and lacks some of the anonymity of his comic book counterpart – even if he tells Jenny Slate‘s character that he can blend in and disappear if need be. Whatever stealth ability he thinks he might have, his face will no doubt prove a disadvantage as the Life Foundation tracks him down to reclaim their missing symbiote.
As heard in the first few moments of the trailer, Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) and his Life Foundation are in charge of the collection of the alien symbiotes and their eventual exploitation — the issue that leads Slate’s character to contact Eddie. Drake, for his part, is an occasional Venom foe back in the comics. As part of the Life Foundation, he is uniquely suited to understanding the alien and the potential to breed more of the creatures. In the trailer, we also see he is interested in bonding the alien matter to humans, as a Venom-like creature is his objective. And considering the character’s comic book history, it is possible he will experiment on himself before the film’s final credits. Curiously, the comic book Drake has not been seen for sometime, which may change come Fall.
After only alluding to him as a sickness in the teaser, the trailer makes it clear the alien symbiote will not only have a mind of its own, but it will speak directly to Eddie. Where the Spider-Man 3‘s Venom just gave Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) and Eddie Brock (Topher Grace) bad vibes or emo haircuts, this one has its own agenda and must negotiate how best to proceed. For his part, Hardy’s version of Eddie makes it clear he only wants the symbiote to attack bad guys – with Eddie’s investigative reporter instincts as the moral barometer. The alien has other ideas, telling Eddie, “We can do whatever we want.” Eddie may yet broker a peace. Indeed, the comic book Venom slid fairly quickly into an anti-hero role as the alien had an innate sense of justice and a willingness to protect the innocent. The trailer’s use of the word “anti-hero” suggests the struggle between Eddie’s moral compass and the alien’s bloodlust will be as much of a conflict as Venom’s fight against Drake, the Life Foundation, and whatever else they manage to create with the other symbiotes in their possession.
For the time being, it is safe to say Venom will stand alone from the MCU Spidey (Tom Holland) and Sony’s animated Spider-verse. At no point does the trailer hint at Spider-Man’s existence or an old enmity between Hardy’s Eddie and a doofy kid back in New York. Of course, there still may be some reference to Spider-Man in the finished film – it could explain why Eddie’s in San Francisco – but the trailer avoids giving in to the temptation to spill the beans, should said beans even exist. The lack of an obvious Spidey connection is, of course, the film’s biggest gamble. While Venom can exist and thrive far away from his hated Spider-Man, setting him up as his own character without the connection is a bold move. The 1997 film Steel made a similar choice to cut the character’s ties to Superman, and the film was not well received. Also, a 1980s attempt to make Spider-Man at Cannon Films would have seen Peter Parker far removed from his costume, familiar abilities, or stable of characters. Instead, he would’ve been an eight-armed monster trying to preserve his humanity. Curiously, preserving the hero’s humanity may be a plot point of Venom as well.
But the absence of Spider-Man may prove to be as important as anything in the actual film. It remains to be seen if the experiment will work, but expect a bunch of anti-hero projects like the Suicide Squad sequel and the Joker standalone project to get the fast-track if Sony spins gold out of Venom alien goo.
Venom opens everywhere on October 18. Watch the just-released trailer below.