Venom and Spider-Man are linked inseparably in fans’ minds, and for good reason. In the comic books, Venom’s entire characterization, from its motivations to its appearance, revolves around Spidey. So making the new Venom movie without any reference to Spider-Man seems like a gargantuan task–a fact Venom director Ruben Fleischer is well aware of.
The most glaring representation of Spider-Man’s absence in Venom is easily the lack of the Symbiote’s iconic white spider logo that’s normally emblazoned across its chest, which Fleischer addressed at Comic-Con. As he rightfully points out, giving Venom a spider logo in this movie “makes no sense.” And as he told GameSpot during a recent interview, figuring out how to make up for Spidey’s absence in the movie was “the most challenging part” of production.
“That was the only real thing that was a limitation, was the fact that we couldn’t feature Spider-Man at all in the movie,” he said. “If there’s no Spider-Man, then there wouldn’t be any reason to have a spider on his chest. And so it did take a lot of time to figure out what to put in its place, and we ended up with that veiny white pattern, which I think looks super cool. But yeah, we did a ton of iterations of different designs for what the chest would ultimately look like.
“That was the most challenging part, because you have something that’s so iconic, and anything you put in its place just doesn’t look right. So it took a lot of time to find something that was distinctive and subtle.”
Naturally, Venom’s look wasn’t the only aspect of the character that had to be altered for this movie. There’s also the question of the Symbiote’s motivation–why does it ally itself with Eddie Brock, if not for their mutual hatred of Spider-Man?
“Yeah, we had to manufacture that, because obviously in the comics they bond over the fact that they both hate Spider-Man,” Fleischer said. “Since we didn’t have that as something for them to connect over, we went with the idea that they’re kindred spirits, and that Venom sees in Eddie somebody like himself who–on his planet, maybe Venom’s a bit of a loser too, and then on our planet he decides he can be a big fish in a small pond.
“In all honesty, I think we had to ground the relationship in something to justify Venom’s betrayal of his own race. And we tried to make it that there was just a real connection between Eddie and Venom, because of their common worldview.”
The Venom spin-off movie has been in the works since at least 2008, but it’s unclear how much work from earlier versions was incorporated into the latest iteration. According to Fleischer, the version of the movie he’s worked on–the draft penned by Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner–never had Spider-Man in it. “So it’s not like we had to extract him from it,” Fleischer said. “It was always, from its inception, built as an origin story with a new approach. And I thought of it as an Ultimate version of Venom, like an Ultimate movie version of Venom.”
Given that they had to change so much about the character, Fleischer tried to stay true to the comics in as many other ways as possible, from the visuals to the writing. Lines of dialogue are ripped straight from the pages, while Fleischer used his favorite comics panels as inspiration for Venom’s visual design.
“I think in that first closeup when you see him, when he first appears with Treece, and he’s holding him by the throat, he just looks like he’s actually there, which I’m really proud of,” he said. “I really felt a responsibility, especially since we couldn’t put the spider on his chest, that we make Venom be as true to the comics as possible despite that fact.”
Venom star Tom Hardy recently said that his favorite scenes from the movie didn’t make it into the final cut, while Venom co-creator Todd McFarlane revealed how he would have changed the movie. Meanwhile, we ranked every Venom universe Symbiote based on how ’90s Xtreme they are.
Venom hits theaters Friday, October 5.