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Venom movie director hints how he’ll make a story without Spider-Man

The movie is inspired by two comics from the character’s heyday

The character Venom in Venom: Lethal Protector (1993), Marvel Comics. Mark Bagley, Devin Tinsley/Marvel Comics
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

During a panel at Sao Paulo’s Comic-Con Experience 2017, director Ruben Fleischer named the two classic Venom stories that have inspired Sony’s upcoming stand-alone Venom movie starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock/Venom.

When the movie was announced last year, the first question on every fan’s mind was “How do you make a Venom movie without Spider-Man?” Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and the Venom movie won’t be. How do you separate a villain who is a dark reflection of the hero from the existence of the hero entirely?

Fleischer’s two picks for comic book inspiration give us some idea. The director cited 1993’s Venom: Lethal Protector and 1995’s Planet of the Symbiotes stories as influencing the story of Sony’s Venom film.

In the former, Venom and Spider-Man strike an uneasy truce after the former promises not to commit more criminal acts and leaves New York City for San Francisco. While in San Francisco, which Fleischer confirmed as the setting of the movie, the anti-hero befriends a community of homeless people and is targeted by a group of mercenaries hired by a family member of one of his past victims as he attempts to fight crime.

The comic also contains this, ah, memorable interaction:

Venom greets a woman he has just rescued from a mugger in Venom: Lethal Protector #1 (1993), Marvel Comics. David Michelinie, Mark Bagley/Marvel Comics

In Planet of the Symbiotes, the Symbiote (the organism that merges with Eddie Brock to form Venom) draws a ship to Earth from its home planet, and Venom and allies become caught up in a battle to defend Earth from a whole slew of new symbiotes who are taking over average citizens.

Fleischer’s choices still heavily feature Spider-Man and related characters, but they have one thing in common: Both stories derive their conflict from Venom’s own backstory, not his clashes with the wall-crawler. Much like Old Man Logan’s influence on Fox’s Logan, we can expect Sony’s Venom movie to borrow themes and plot from its comic book inspirations rather than characters. So don’t be surprised if we wind up seeing Venom fighting off an alien invasion among San Francisco’s homeless population.

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