How One Of Spider-Man's Gnarliest '90s Villains Became An Ally

One of Spider-Man’s most infamous villains, Venom, now has a franchise of his own, thanks to Tom Hardy taking on the role and turning his eponymous 2018 feature into a global hit. It wasn't the symbiote's first appearance on the silver screen, but it is the one that seems to have firmly established him as a top-tier character. But what's the full story with the black-goo-covered anti-hero? 

Venom's origin is bizarre and convoluted, stretching from a real-life Marvel contest to the comic company's legendary Secret Wars crossover, before becoming a story involving aliens and a serial killer. It's a wild storyline, even by comic book standards, but worth investigating before seeing the new movie.

Venom spent years terrorizing Spider-Man, but how did he eventually become an ally and hero?

  • A Spidey Super-Fan Starts It All

    In 1982, Marvel Comics ran a contest for aspiring artists and writers to submit their ideas for storylines and character revamps. The 22-year-old Randy Schueller sent in the concept of Spider-Man getting an all-black "stealth" suit made out of the same unstable molecules as the Fantastic Four's costumes (but with a red spider logo).

    Marvel liked the idea, paid Schueller a whopping $220 [cough], switched the logo to white, and voila! 

  • Peter Parker Finds The Suit During Marvel's Secret Wars

    The problem with doing a faithful Venom origin story on film is there's no way to fully explain Secret Wars. But here goes: In 1984, Marvel launched their first massive crossover event, which saw almost every member of their universe whisked away to an alien planet to battle.

    After days of endless fighting, Spider-Man (for some reason) is the only hero whose costume is in tatters. He finds a machine he thinks can repair his suit, but it instead drops a lump of black goo in his hand - because the machine is NOT an intergalactic sewing machine, but an alien prison for Symbiotes (naturally).

    Spidey picks up the goo, and it instantly turns into his black costume. See? Not so easy to sum up and put on film, right? 

  • Mister Fantastic Discovers The Suit Is Actually A Living Organism

    After Secret Wars, Spider-Man returns to Earth with his snazzy new black costume - which supplies its own webbing and "appears" on Parker whenever he needs it. Everything is hunky dory until Parker starts to feel unusually fatigued.

    Turning to his friends the Fantastic Four for help, Peter discovers not only is his costume "alive," it takes him "sleep-swinging" at night. Reed Richards, AKA Mister Fantastic, eventually uses sound waves to separate Peter from the Symbiote. Peter then... hangs the living costume in his closet. Because of course.

  • Peter Escapes The Suit, But It Bonds With His Rival

    Which one of us hasn't reached into our closet for our superhero alter-ego's costume only to accidentally grab the living alien creature that looks like the costume instead? Peter does that, and finds himself bonded with the Symbiote again.

    He heads to a nearby church, where the sounds of the clanging bells force the alien to release Peter. The suit drops out of the bell tower and lands on Peter's rival, a terminally ill (he is battling cancer) and suicidal newspaper reporter named Eddie Brock. Eddie and the suit become Venom.

  • The Suit Gives Brock Enhanced Versions Of Spidey's Powers

    Since the Symbiote spent its first few years on Earth as Spider-Man's suit, it not only retains the spider-logo, but also gives Brock enhanced versions of Spider-Man's powers... not to mention the knowledge of Spider-Man's secret identity.

    This leads the unhinged Brock to begin stalking and antagonizing Spider-Man. A neat side-effect of being "part Spider-Man" is that Venom cancels our Parker's Spidey Sense, so the hero never knows his rival is coming. 

  • The Symbiote Suit Is Jealous Of Peter's New Suit - Seriously

    After the Symbiote leaves Peter Parker following the church bells incident, Peter misses the all-black ensemble so much he creates a cloth version of it. This makes the Symbiote jealous - seriously - and it carries that animosity with it when it attaches itself to Brock.

    That's why Brock has an innate hatred of Spider-Man. See? There's a LOT to cram in here. No wonder the movies take liberties.