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Venom explained: The origin and powers of Spider-Man’s best villain

Venom is the creepy-crawly baddie we've seen countless times in the Spider-Man universe. Here, we tell you everything you need to know about the oozing villain.

Venom explained: Venom from the movie and Marvel comics

Few Spider-Man villains have infiltrated pop culture more than Venom. His look is iconic, and his presence has brought us some of the most jaw-dropping and wildest Spidey moments.

The famous web-slinging Spider-Man comes with plenty of big bads, so it might be hard to work out just where Venom lands among the best Spider-Man villains. Well, we’re here to tell you where Venom comes from, which Marvel characters he’s crossed over with, and which superhero movies he appears in. So, let’s make like a turd in the wind and roll.

Who is Venom?

Venom is a sentient alien symbiote who appears in a liquid-like form and bonds with external hosts in order to survive.

There’s so much more to Venom than simply being the black-suit-wearing, street-strutting alter ego of Peter Parker. Venom actually comes from a whole race of symbiotes who hail from the planet Klyntar. In fact, there are actually over 40 different types of symbiote, and Venom was the 998th generation to have been born on Klyntar.

Symbiotes need to bond with hosts if they want to survive, and are more inclined to protect their host rather than destroy them, all of which ends up making Venom a master of puppets, toying with its hosts and partly driving them insane while still acting as a kind of internal bodyguard.

Venom explained: Venom in the comics

A lot of people think Peter Parker was Venom’s first human host, but let us correct that now! It was actually Deadpool who was Venom’s first plaything, but only for a few minutes. In fact, in the canon, Wade Wilson was taken over by the symbiote just minutes before Spider-Man.

All this happens during the Secret Wars arc, which was initially published in the 1980s. Deadpool wasn’t created until the ’90s, but a 2015 comic by the name of ‘Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars’ inserted him retroactively into the storyline. It all takes place in a room that contains machines that can fix costumes, where Deadpool goes in and tries on the Venom symbiote but ditches it quickly once he realizes it’s got a life of its own.

Moments later in the canon (but back in 1984 in the real world of comic book publishing) Spider-Man came into the room and had the exact same experience of Venom bonding to his suit. And this is where (we think) things kick off in earnest, because its bond to Spider-Man is really what makes Venom tick.

This, of course, is where most of us know Venom from, and its toxic relationship with Parker is one of three storylines in 2007’s Spider-Man 3 — the worst Raimi Spider-Man movie according to history. (Or one of the best movies in the franchise if you enjoy over-the-top fun.)

Over the years, Venom’s also bonded with many other characters, with the most famous association being Eddie Brock, Peter Parker’s photographic nemesis. When Venom bonded with Eddie, it absorbed some of his bitter nature and became a hateful, raging being. (AKA: the Venom we know and love!)

However, Venom’s also bonded with Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), Thunderbolt Ross, Groot, Rocket, and Drax. All this is making us think an Avengers-Venom crossover could potentially be the most batshit MCU idea ever. If you’re looking for a full list of Venom’s major hosts in the comics and Spider-Man movies, we’ve got you covered.

Here’s every major Venom host:

  • Deadpool
  • Spider-Man/Peter Parker
  • Eddie Brock
  • Flash Thompson
  • Tel-Kar
  • Carol Danvers
  • Thunderbolt Ross
  • Otto Octavius
  • Groot
  • Rocket Raccoon
  • Drax
  • Mysterio

Venom explained: Venom appearing in Marvel comics

Venom’s powers and abilities explained

When Venom bonds with a host, it is able to mimic and absorb its abilities, meaning that over time, Venom has managed to gain superhuman strength, durability, and other such powers.

Essentially, bonding with someone like Spider-Man is a big win. Symbiotes are generally stronger when they’re with a host. Even when they’re not, they’re autonomous beings that can manipulate their own mass to create features such as tentacles and fangs.

When they’re bonded, symbiotes can shapeshift and do whatever they need to do to blend in. This means they can even create street clothes for their host in order to appear normal. On the upside, for the host, a symbiote takeover can mean that their own abilities are heightened to superhuman levels. We see this in Spider-Man, as he finds he’s able to produce stronger webbing and gain more strength.

Venom explained: Venom appearing in Marvel comics

Venom can mutate at will, but it also boasts intense strength, durability, and stamina. It’s also able to absorb bullets and can even survive in the most dangerous of circumstances, such as when underwater and within toxic fumes. What’s more, Venom can even help regenerate a host and can cure illnesses in the human body. (We’ll remember that the next time we have a cold.) Oh, and true to its name, Venom also has a venomous substance in his fangs.

Impressively, Venom and other symbiotes can retain genetic memory, meaning they can remember information after touching or bonding with someone. In the case of Venom, this means that even after it’s bonded with Spider-Man, it can still exhibit wall-crawling and web production, and even has a Spidey-Sense of its own. Most importantly, Venom can actually evade Spider-Man’s own senses, making it one of the more dangerous and unpredictable villains in his world.

So, does Venom have any weaknesses? Well, we’re glad you asked! Venom is highly sensitive to sonic and thermal attacks, meaning loud noises and intense heat can pacify it.

Venom explained: Venom showing his teeth

Venom’s on-screen appearances explained

Venom has appeared in multiple Spider-Man adaptations, all starting in 1995 with the Spider-Man: The Animated series.

The villain appeared in a three-episode arc titled ‘The Alien Costume’. Since then, Venom’s appeared in several other animated projects, but its biggest and most notorious storylines have been in the live-action works.

In the early 2000s, there was a solo Venom movie being developed by New Line Cinema, but this fell flat when Sony regained the rights for the character in 2007. And we all know what happened then…

When watching the Spider-Man movies in order, Venom appears as one of Peter Parker’s antagonists in the third and final installment in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy, next to the Sandman and Harry Osborn. In this arc, Venom bonded with Peter Parker and turned him into a womanizing fiend before taking over Eddie Brock.

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Years later, when The Amazing Spider-Man series was in full swing, a Venom spin-off movie was envisioned, though this ended up being canceled before Sony ended up making an agreement with Marvel for character rights. All this led us to where we are now: a solo Venom movie series that began in 2018.

This Venom series revolves around Venom’s bonded relationship with a much cooler, more rugged on-screen version of Eddie Brock, played by Tom Hardy. (Hey, if we were able to bond with Tom Hardy, we’d have done it too.) These on-screen movie appearances technically come from Marvel, though if you were to add them to your marathon, they’d form part of the non-MCU Marvel movies in order.

There have been two Venom movies to come out of this franchise to date, with a Venom 3 release date in the works. It even appears in other, bigger projects, such as the Spider-Man: No Way Home post-credit scene. So, what’s in Venom’s future? Well, its involvement in other MCU projects means there’s always the possibility to pop up in the upcoming Marvel movies, particularly during Marvel Phase 6.

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That’s Venom! To see where the MCU is currently at, check out our guide to Marvel Phase 5. You can also catch up on every Marvel series and keep an eye on other new movies, like The Marvels and Spider-Man 4. There’s also a list of the Spider-Man actors ranked, so you can see which of them make up the best superhero movies.

For some super-powered long reads, don’t miss our features on why the MCU is making the same mistake Marvel comics did decades ago, and why Marvel needs to learn that killing characters isn’t everything.