Marvel might have an ever-expanding list of exciting characters to choose from, but it’s really hard to deny that Spider-Man is clearly the most popular of the bunch. The success of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy starring Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, and James Franco confirmed that Spidey was just as beloved on screen as he was the page, eventually leading to another adaptation (albeit a rocky one) with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in The Amazing Spider-Man. Marvel history was made when Sony and Marvel Entertainment came to a deal that would allow Spidey to join the MCU, making Tom Holland’s first appearance as the wall-crawler in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War all the more exciting. One can even argue that Spider-Man works better in animation, as evidenced by Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s Spider-Verse franchise and PlayStation’s incredibly popular video game franchise.

The MCU really blew our minds, though, with Spider-Man: No Way Home, when we served a heaping helping of Spidey with the appearance of not one, but three versions of Spider-Man as Maguire and Garfield reprised their roles. There was also an abundance of villains from the various movies, including Doc Ock (Alfred Molina), Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe), Electro (Jamie Foxx), Sandman (Thomas Haden Church), and the Lizard (Rhys Ifans). Phew, that was… a lot of names. Meanwhile, the end credit scene of Venom sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage zapped Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock into Tom Holland’s Spider-Man universe, officially inserting him into the MCU. And if you were still a bit skeptical about whether or not we will see that Venom cross paths with Holland’s Spidey in the future, the post-credits of No Way Home featured a baffled Eddie Brock talking to a waiter and getting caught up to speed on all of Spidey’s hijinx as of late. He even says, “Maybe I should go to New York to speak to this, uh…Spider-Man.” Are your Spidey senses also tingling?

But Tom Hardy’s iteration of Venom was not the first time we saw this sinister symbiote on screen. Topher Grace also played Eddie Brock, a Daily Bugle employee that quickly becomes Peter Parker’s rival, in Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. After detaching from Peter, the alien symbiote collectively known as Venom chooses Eddie as its new host. This portrayal of the Venom and Spider-Man origin story and relationship greatly mirrors that of the comic book. And speaking of the comics… let’s peel back the webs and take a look at the history of Spider-Man and Venom’s complex relationship.

When Does Spider-Man First Interact With Venom in the Comics?

Image via Marvel Comics

Let’s establish some of the basics. Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Spider-Man’s first appearance was in 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15. It tells the origin story of Peter Parker, a scientifically gifted and a “wallflower” of a high school student whose life is forever altered once he gets bitten by a radioactive spider. He develops superhuman strength, can crawl all over surfaces like a spider, has a “spidey sense” that alerts him of pending dangers (keep that in mind!), and creates web shooter technology that enables him to shoot webs and swing from surfaces. And in addition to the web-shooters, he makes a pretty nifty superhero suit for himself. Peter uses his powers to protect the city and people he loves, including his aging guardians, Uncle Ben and Aunt May.

So, what’s this symbiote all about? Spider-Man first comes in contact with it in issue #8 of a 12-issue limited event series known as Secret Wars. (The series started at the request of Mattel, because it wanted to make more toys.) What resulted was this mega-crossover extravaganza that brought a long list of heroes that included everyone from Spider-Man, Thor, and She-Hulk to Cyclops, Wolverine, and Nightcrawler together to fight villains including Titania, Doctor Doom, Lizard, and Ultron to the distant planet Battleworld that was made by a mysterious being known as the Beyonder. Coincidentally, this being is also responsible for transporting all these heroes and villains to this one location in an effort to see who would emerge victorious. In one of the battles, Spider-Man’s suit gets pretty beat up, and he finds out that there is a machine nearby that could create a new suit for him using the power of his mind. What emerges from the machine is a small black ball that seems to have a mind of its own. It latches onto Spider-Man and creeps up his arm, much to his confusion.

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Peter was concerned with what this mystery material was capable of. Since it was giving him nightmares, controlling him in his sleep, and driving him to violence, he asked Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic) to conduct some experiments. We find out in The Amazing Spider-Man #258 from November 1984 that the new black costume is an alien symbiote that is actively trying to become one with Peter Parker. Understandably, Peter is horrified, and does his best to rip the costume from his body. The only problem is, the alien costume doesn’t want to leave. The Fantastic Four realizes that the symbiote is basically allergic to loud sounds, and they create an environment that forces it to become defenseless. Peter’s rid of the bad black stuff, but Reed holds onto it for some more tests. Little did Peter know, this was only the beginning of a real-life nightmare.

When Does Eddie Brock Become Venom?

Image via Marvel Comics

A year later, in Web of Spider-Man #1, the alien symbiote returns and re-attaches to Spidey, who is emotionally vulnerable from his breakup with the Black Cat and for being on shaky ground with Aunt May. Desperate to get rid of the costume again, he heads to Reed’s for help. But, this pesky alien reads Peter’s mind, and actively keeps him from going there. Thanks to the ringing of a distant church bell, Peter remembers the creature’s sensitivity to sound and makes his way to the church. The deafening sounds of the church bells push Peter to what feels like the brink of death, but it proves worth it as the alien costume basically dissolves off of him and escapes. Hey, what about that Eddie guy?

Technically, Eddie’s first appearance is in Web of Spider-Man #18 in 1986, when his hand is shown shoving Peter onto train tracks (though he is saved). Peter is concerned as to why his Spidey senses didn’t alert him. It turns out, the alien symbiote had drained some of his powers when it used him as host. At the end of The Amazing Spider-Man #298, we see a man (Eddie Brock) examining stories about Spider-Man he attached to a wall. His body is overcome by the same symbiote that took over Peter (gulp!) and he transforms into a beast-like creature. In the following issue, this hulking figure hides out in Peter and Mary Jane’s apartment, leaving Mary Jane breathless.

Finally, in The Amazing Spider-Man #300, we get the official, full appearance of Venom. Eddie had been stalking Peter for quite some time and is able to seamlessly attack him due to Peter lacking his Spidey sense. The symbiote separates itself from his host’s face, which is revealed to be Eddie Brock. Eddie explains that Spider-Man ruined his life and defamed his journalistic reputation. During his time at the Daily Globe, Eddie published a story revealing Emil Gregg to be what he believed was the true identity of the killer known as the Sin-Eater. Much to his embarrassment, however, Spider-Man captured Stan Carter, who was the real Sin-Eater, and it turns out Emil was a “compulsive confessor.” As a result of poor journalism, Eddie was fired and completely humiliated by his peers. Eddie focused his newfound free time on working out and thinking of ways to get revenge on Spidey.

Venom Is One of Spider-Man’s Best Villains

Image via Marvel Comics

Ultimately, Eddie felt too much at a loss, and contemplated suicide. Fueled with guilt for even considering such an option, Eddie went to church (the same church that Peter used to separate himself from the symbiote) and begged for forgiveness. The symbiote, still lingering in the church, sensed Eddie’s hatred and thirst for revenge. Eddie embraced his role as host for the creature, and in doing so, gained strong spider-like abilities and learned intimate details about Spider-Man and his personal life as Peter. Eddie and the symbiote were fused into one slimy and toothy figure that prefers to be called Venom. The alien substance and Eddie become so close that they even talk to each other.

Venom became one of Spider-Man’s toughest and merciless foes of all time, often bringing him close to death. Venom’s become somewhat of an anti-hero, wrestling with his morals and even fighting for good alongside Spider-Man. Over the years, the alien symbiote has latched onto a slew of characters, including Mac Gargan (formerly known as the villain Scorpion), Peter’s high school bully Flash Thompson, Red Hulk, Ms. Marvel, and Rocket Raccoon, for varying durations of time. Much like the symbiote when it latches onto its new host, the character Venom isn’t going anywhere. Tom Hardy will reprise his role as Eddie Brock in an untitled third installment of his franchise following 2021’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and given the Sony Spider-Verse of it all, there’s a good chance he’ll appear in the upcoming Madame Web starring Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney.

The Big Picture

  • Spider-Man: No Way Home and Venom: Let There Be Carnage introduce multiple versions of Spider-Man, including Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield, and connect Venom to the MCU.
  • The history of Spider-Man and Venom’s complex relationship is explored, starting with Spider-Man’s encounter with the alien symbiote in the Secret Wars event series.
  • Venom becomes one of Spider-Man’s toughest foes, but also transforms into an anti-hero, fighting alongside Spider-Man and bonding with other characters in the Marvel universe.

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