Venom References And Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed
Venom has already broken box office records
Venom is now in theaters, and although it may not be officially part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that doesn't mean it's lacking in comic book shout outs. Eddie's symbiotic alien adventure isn't as crammed full of Easter eggs and nods as his web slinging pals over in the MCU proper, but there are certainly some. So, of course, we're going to count them down. Be advised, Venom spoilers abound here, so proceed with caution.
Venom is a totally reimagined origin story for Spidey's obsessive alien enemy, set in Sony's isolated Spider-Man free Spider-Man universe. It focuses on Eddie Brock as an intrepid investigative journalist in San Francisco as he tries to uncover the truth about a shady biochemical firm known as The Life Foundation. Unfortunately, in the process of digging for dirt, Eddie crosses some lines and winds up disgraced, alone, and desperate for a break. Thankfully, one comes in the form of a Life Foundation scientist, Dr. Skirth, who finds herself in a crisis of consciousness over her job's unethical methods. Eddie becomes embroiled in the strange, parasitic world of the Life Foundation's alien pet projects: the symbiotes, tar-like aliens that require a biological host to survive.
It doesn't take much effort to start connecting the dots from that point. Eddie winds up saddled with a symbiote named Venom who can engulf him in black goo and puppeteer him around for all sorts of wacky, violent hijinks. Naturally, the Life Foundations' shady motivations become clear and the whole thing culminates in a full on oozified splatterfest as Venom clashes against a fellow symbiote for the fate of humanity.
Look, the Venom story is a weird one even in the comics, OK? If you were expecting high stakes moral quandaries, you're looking in the wrong place. That doesn't mean it's not worth seeing--as Venom's box office results clearly show, fans are eating it up. Now read on for all the Easter eggs and references you might have missed.
1. Eddie's New York Past
One of the first things established about Eddie Brock in Venom is that he was, effectively, pushed out of New York City after losing his job at The Daily Globe, which just so happens to be the The Daily Bugle's biggest rival over in the comics. He's currently living and working in San Francisco. This is a directly indirect nod to Eddie's comic book history with the one and only Spider-Man, who he developed a powerful grudge against while working as a photojournalist in NYC. After Eddie bonds with Venom and the two of them set some of their differences with Pete aside by coming to a tenuous agreement and they return to San Francisco to act as the "lethal protector" of the city.
2. Yellow Symbiote
While Venom and Riot may be the only two named symbiotes in the Life Foundation's possession, they're experimenting with one that is distinctly yellow in color. This is a reference to one of the comic book Life Foundation symbiotes called Phage, who set himself apart from his siblings with his bright color and--well, not much else.
3. Blue Symbiote
Like Phage, another original comic book Life Foundation symbiote made a stealthy cameo during the experimentation scenes. The blueish green blob that goes on to kill Dr. Skirth is, we can assume, a nod to Lasher, another one of the original five creatures who Carlton Drake hoped to reverse engineer.
During her very brief stint bonded with the symbiote, Anne becomes a female version of Venom known in the comics as--wait for it--She-Venom. She-Venom was introduced in the comics back in 1995 during the awesomely named "Sinner Takes All" arc. She and Venom bond when Anne was fatally shot, which wound up saving Anne's life--though not for long. She eventually killed herself in the comics as a direct result of her life's Venom-related chaos.
Venom's first post credits scene reveals Woody Harrelson playing a prisoner in a maximum security facility. He never properly introduces himself, but comics fans will clock right away--even before he utters the telling "there's gonna be carnage" line--that he's playing Cletus Kasady, the insane killer who goes on to become Carnage. As one of Venom's most iconic foes, Carnage is a hulking bright red symbiotic beast who has none of the moral qualms Venom does about Eddie's general resistance to killing. As a serial killer and sociopath, Cletus and his symbiote are only interested in spilling as much blood as they can.
6. Eating Brains
Venom's cannibalism is a pretty prominent feature of the film, sometimes as a joke, sometimes as an earnest threat. This isn't a new thing, however, nor is it live action sensationalism--but it's probably a weirder callback than you might expect. The real origin of Venom's brain-eating isn't the comics, but the Venom action figure released in the 1990s shortly after Venom's introduction. The cannibalism eventually did make the leap to comics, but it was always a bit of a non sequitur (why does an alien blob want to do the zombie thing, anyway?)
Now, some 20 years later, the brain eating tradition continues in full color on movie screens everywhere.
7. Eyes, Lungs, Pancreas
The line "eyes, lungs, pancreas--so many snacks, so little time!" may be cheesy, but it's also a direct reference to the comics. And not just a reference--that exact dialogue was lifted straight from Amazing Spider-Man #374. Naturally, this was after the whole "eating brains" thing became pretty well established.
As you could probably imagine, a blob of black alien goo could basically look like anything at any time, so over in the comics, Venom's humanoid form is based entirely upon his origin in which he spent some time disguised as Peter Parker's black costume.
Of course, in the live action universe, Venom hasn't actually met Peter so he has no real reason to riff on the look. That's why he doesn't have a big white Spider-logo on his chest--but there's still one major Spidey shout out in the design, and it's all in the eyes. Venom's eye shape subtly implies a Spider-Man connection--whether or not there really is one.
9. The Life Foundation
Carlton Drake's Life Foundation isn't an arbitrary plot piece for the movie, it's actually one of the biggest comics call-backs Venom has to offer. The Life Foundation has some deep roots in the Marvel Universe, but they're most famous for being the first organization to purposefully create symbiote spawns. They were responsible for the propagation of five Venom "children" named Agony, Scream, Phage, Lasher, and Riot who they then bonded to Life Foundation volunteers to create their very own symbiote task force. Sound familiar? That's because they do basically the exact same thing in Venom with only a few little tweaks to make it work in the movie universe.
10. Eddie the Journalist
Eddie's career as a journalist was anything but an arbitrary choice for the film. Eddie Brock's comic book origin story revolves around his career as a journalist who broke a bad story and, naturally, decided his mistake was all Spider-Man's fault. His career was ruined and he was forced to sink to tabloid levels just to make a living, all while bodybuilding to reduce the stress. The end result was a super jacked, super angry ex-journalist who just so happened to be the perfect host for a vengeful alien symbiote.
11. Carlton Drake
While Jenny Slates' Dr. Skirth isn't actually a direct reference to any comic book character, Riz Ahmed's Carlton Drake definitely is. He was lifted directly from Marvel's pages as the ethically questionable leader of the Life Foundation. His comics counterpart never bonds with the symbiote Riot, so there are certainly some differences, but Carlton's name and corporate role are as true to the source as can be.
12. Down with the Sickness
If any motif, you know, aside from tar-y black goo, is repeated over and over in Venom it's Eddie having to go in and out of medical facilities. He's put through MRI machines, he's sweaty and feverish, he's worried about having a "parasite," he's talking with doctors--you get the idea. While this isn't an explicit reference to any one particular thing, it is potentially a shout-out to Eddie's rather unpleasant history with doctors back in the comics. In the early 2000s, a story called "The Hunger" retconned Eddie's origin story to give him deadly cancer prior to his bonding with Venom. It was the symbiote that kept Eddie alive and rid him of his disease--which sort of plays out on screen. It's just that in the movie, Eddie's not actually sick, Venom is the thing that is both hurting him and saving him.
13. John Jameson
This one is blink-and-you-miss-it, but if you're paying close enough attention to the beginning of Venom, you might catch a name dropped in reference to the catastrophic crash that brings the symbiotes to Earth. One of the scientists in the clean up crew mentions that the craft had been piloted by "Jameson," which, in any other circumstance would probably just be a throwaway line--but not here. The name Jameson is actually a shout-out to comics character John Jameson who, in addition to being the son of J. Jonah Jameson (yes, that J. Jonah Jameson) was also the astronaut famous for bringing the symbiotes to Earth.
14. Meanwhile, in another universe…
The second of Venom's post-credits scenes doesn't actually have much to do with Venom at all. It's a teaser for Sony's other Spider-Man movie, the fully animated Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, which is heading for theaters this fall. Though Eddie and Venom have nothing to do with Miles Morales and his cartoon adventures, the title card does put Venom the movie into an interesting context within Sony's not-actually-shared universe of movies. If the "Spider-Verse" encompasses any and all forms of Spider-Man stories, then Venom is most definitely part of that web somewhere, right? We're not recommending you hold your breath for a Tom Hardy shout-out or cameo in Into The Spider-Verse, but hey, stranger things have happened.