“We are Venom,” Tom Hardy’s anti-hero rasps in a deep voice in the first look of the scaly Spider-Man villain in footage shown on Monday at CinemaCon, a trade convention for theater owners, in Las Vegas.
In the scene set in a parking lot, Hardy’s Eddie Brock grabs a man by the throat and while doing so, transforms his human head suddenly enveloped by the distinctive black alien skull of Venom with large, slanted white snake-like eyes and a wide mouth filled with razor-sharp teeth that opens wide to reveal a reptile-esque tongue.
“I just have to say, being a part of this movie and playing Venom is truly a dream come true for me, because to be brutally honest, I was looking to do a movie that initially my son could watch,” Hardy said. “It appealed massively to me because he’s one of my favorite characters, and I chased after this movie both for me…and for my son.”
Footage shown at CinemaCon opened with journalist Eddie Brock in San Francisco, saying, “I’m a reporter and I’m pretty good. I follow people who do not want to be followed.” Brock’s attention is drawn to Doctor Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the head of the Life Foundation, an organization in the comics that used the symbiotes to create additional Venom-esque creatures. When he visits Life Foundation to report a story, he is quickly shut down, but when he returns to his apartment, Brock starts to feel sick and experience hallucinations and increased rage. A group of henchmen come to his apartment to kill him, but Brock discovers his enhanced combat skills and takes the men out, asking himself, “Why would we do that?”
As Drake sets his men to chase Brock, riding on his motorbike, to the streets of San Francisco, he starts to experience the full power of Venom, tackling his assassins with heightened agility and inhuman skills. When Brock is thrown off his bike and lands in a parking lot with a plethora of broken bones, a henchman comes after him and asks, “What the hell are you?,” just as the black alien substance starts to flow out of Brock and heal his broken bones. As Brock stands up, the scaly black skin covers his body and envelops his head into the familiar menacing face of the anti-hero.
In the official trailer released shortly afterwards, there’s are additional scenes featuring Jenny Slate playing an employee of the Life Foundation, who meets Brock secretly in a grocery store and gives him details of the company’s secrets, and of Brock dealing with Venom’s voice in his head.
“There’s no character out there quite like Venom; he’s the most awesome character in Marvel history,” said director Ruben Fleischer.
Hardy and Fleischer were joined by co-stars Ahmed and Michelle Williams, who plays Brock’s girlfriend Anne Weying.
“I happen to love superhero movies and I’ve always wanted to do one…but it was never right until now because I never wanted to play a damsel in distress, I wanted to play a woman who was strong and powerful in her own right,” Williams said.
Ahmed added, “Not only is this my first superhero film, but I’ve also always wanted to play a big movie villain, and that came true in this and especially against the wild power that is Tom Hardy.”
Venom is not a spin-off of Tom Holland-starring Spider-Man: Homecoming, but rather expands Sony’s ongoing Spider-Man universe and will be its own entity, primarily be based on the Lethal Protector and the Planet of the Symbiotes comics.
Venom: Lethal Protector was a limited series in 1993 from writer David Michelinie and artist Mark Bagley. The story followed Brock from New York to San Francisco, where he’s reinvented as more of an anti-hero as opposed to a Spider-Man villain. Planet of the Symbiotes, meanwhile, was a 1995 story that focused on Brock fighting an army of invading symbiotes — a symbiote being the living alien substance that takes over Eddie’s body and transforms him into the vicious wall-crawler.
After the success of Spider-Man: Homecoming last year, Sony Pictures is expanding the superhero franchise with the animated Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller. Lord teased that the film will be a “totally revolutionary style of animation. Shameik Moore will voice Spidey in the film, who is the alter-ego of Miles Morales, a half black, half Puerto-Rican high school student in Brooklyn.
“I’m not the only kid who imagined himself being Spider-Man,” Moore said. “As Stan Lee said, it’s really true that anyone can wear the mask.”