Anatomy of an anti-hero

There are good guys and there are bad guys. But then there are the anti-heroes. They’re the cinematic misfits who hang out in the moral grey area, walking a wobbly tightrope between light and dark. Or, to put that another way, they’re the wrong ’uns you just can’t help rooting for.

As Venom arrives at ODEON cinemas on 3 October, here’s a character breakdown of the last Marvel superhero you’d want to save you…

 

The Origins

The Venom character first appeared in Marvel’s Spider-Man comics back in 1984, introducing us to a horrific, liquid-like alien parasite that’s constantly on the hunt for a human host. Back to the movie, reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is infected in a late-night prowl through the Life Foundation labs, causing him to morph back and forth from a petrified hack to a drooling jet-black Xenomorph with a taste for secondary organs.

Usually a human gets imbued with powers or an alien comes from outer space and has to to figure out how to live on Earth,” says director Ruben Fleischer. “But Venom is really about a relationship between two people who have to work together to create this hybrid symbiotic relationship.


Split personality

Venom comes with its own warped personality, and some of the movie’s best moments come from the tug-of-war between Eddie’s earnest quest to do the right thing and his wise-cracking resident monster. Remarkably, in a reprise of his Kray twins double-header from Legend, Hardy played both roles and supplied opposing voices.

“I always saw Venom as sounding like a James Brown lounge lizard,” he told one interviewer, “and Eddie is an everyday kinda guy. But he’s inherited this massive ego, this beast.”

 

Devastating powers

By this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we’ve seen pretty much every superpower in the book. But you sense that Spidey and the gang would kill for Venom’s twisted talents, which include shape-shifting, self-replication and violent elongation (often impaling enemies in the process).

The fascinating aspect of the movie is Eddie’s shift from revulsion to respect. “It’s a superpower you don’t really want,” considers Hardy, “but at the same time, you love it. It makes you feel special.”


A skewed moral compass

Venom is categorically not a ‘good guy’: that much should be obvious from his habit of munching on people’s heads. But as a sort-of vigilante, who tears through a slew of thugs and takes on the true villain of the movie – slippery Life Foundation leader Dr. Carlton Drake (played by Riz Ahmed) – he’s not all bad, either. Suffice to say, when Venom hits ODEON cinemas on 3 October, it’s your call who to cheer and who to hiss…

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