Familiarize yourself with Tom Hardy's supervillain

By Christian Holub
May 19, 2017 at 07:38 PM EDT

Amazing Spider-Man may be dead, but Venom lives. Years after Sony discontinued its Andrew Garfield superhero franchise, the studio has resurrected at least one character seen during that era from its library of 900 Marvel characters. The studio announced Friday that Tom Hardy will star as Venom in the 2018 film based on the teeth-baring, tongue-wagging villain of Spider-Man lore.

It’s unclear right now how much Hardy’s Venom will cross paths with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Sony says this is not a spin-off of Holland’s upcoming solo debut Spider-Man: Homecoming but another entry in “Sony’s Marvel Universe.” So for now, the on-screen relationship between Spider-Man and Venom remains unclear, but their comic book histories are very closely intertwined. If you’re unfamiliar with the symbiotic supervillain or just need a refresher course, here’s a list of can’t-miss Venom facts.

Its powered by an alien symbiote
In the ’80s, Spider-Man briefly tried to change costumes. During the epic heroes-vs-villains saga of Secret Wars (the first one), his iconic red-and-blue suit was destroyed, and he attempted to replace it with a black-and-white version found on an alien planet. The benefits of this new suit included self-regeneration (no more ripped costume!) and unlimited web fluid, but the drawbacks soon became clear as well. This suit was not a piece of clothing at all, but a living alien organism with a will of its own that bonded to its host as a symbiote. When Spider-Man successfully disengaged it with the help of some loud church bells, the symbiote made its way to other hosts, who would plague the wall-crawler as the villainous Venom.

Inside Eddie Brock
After leaving Peter Parker, the symbiote bonded with Eddie Brock — the first and longest-serving Venom. Like Peter Parker, Eddie is a journalist — but that career went south after Spider-Man ended up debunking some of his stories. Filled with rage and resentment, Eddie connects with the symbiote — which loves to empower the worst aspects of people. Although Eddie Brock as Venom has flirted with anti-hero status over the years (a typical outgrowth of a villain gaining runaway popularity), his first and main motive has always been hating Spider-Man. It’s this version that Hardy will be playing in the film.

Who are the other hosts?
Eddie Brock was the first person to bond with the symbiote and become Venom, but he certainly wasn’t the last. Over the years, the role has also been filled by Mac Gargan. Typically known as the villain Scorpion, Gargan temporarily abandoned his armored suit for the symbiote. In recent years, the suit even found its way to Peter Parker’s old high school bully Flash Thompson, who became a more heroic version of Venom and even temporarily joined up with the Guardians of the Galaxy!

Versus Carnage
Venom wasn’t the only symbiotic supervillain running around the Marvel universe in the ’90s. When Eddie Brock was temporarily incarcerated, the symbiote left behind a piece of itself that ended up bonding with Eddie’s one-time cellmate, the serial killer Cletus Kasady. Together, Cletus and this bit of symbiote become Carnage, a red-colored and even more unhinged version of Venom that often clashed with its predecessor over the years. Given their relationship, don’t be surprised if Carnage follows Venom onto the big screen sometime soon…

How has he looked before?
Tom Hardy’s Venom will not be the character’s first foray onto the screen. Topher Grace played Brock and Venom in Sam Raimi’s much-maligned Spider-Man 3Hank Azaria voiced Brock in the ’90s Spider-Man cartoon, while Steven Weber voiced Venom in the more recent Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon.

Venom will strike theaters on Oct. 5, 2018.