I must admit I didn’t see Venom in theaters. This is something I regret deeply. I am generally not the biggest fan of superhero films (*ducks*). However, a few months after the film’s release I caught wind of its large queer fanbase. I was like what? A fellow queer co-worker at the time told me to look up the fan art on Tumblr. It did not disappoint. So of course I was then contractually obliged to seek the film out. Suffice to say, I loved it so much that I bought my own copy (after returning the Blu-ray to the video rental store). Since then, I have watched the film, and its delightful special features, many times, and the queer undertones jump out more and more.
At this point, I can’t even read it as subtext. It’s just text. Allow me to break it down for you. First, a little basic plot recap. The bio-engineering corporation Life Foundation has found a comet covered in symbiotic life forms. Meanwhile, reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) gets a tip that the corporation’s CEO Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) is carrying out dangerous human testing on the transient community of San Francisco. While investigating, Brock encounters one of the symbiotes—the titular Venom (also Tom Hardy) and it begins to inhabit its body. Chaos ensues.
A Chaotic Rom-Com Story
Here’s where the film gets very queer, very fast. Once the two begin to share a body, the film takes on an almost rom-com-esque feel as they banter in a love-hate manner. We all know where that leads! There is a sequence where Venom finally introduces himself to Eddie, saying “I am Venom, and you are mine” as the two lock eyes with each other. It should not be hot, and yet…
Furthermore, in the scene, Venom states that he found Eddie and chose him. That now they have bonded, he knows everything about him. He is inside his head.
Later in the film when the two are escaping from goons via a tall skyscraper, Eddie begins to free fall. As he tumbles, he shouts for Venom, screaming “where did you go?!” Just before he falls completely off the building, Venom shoots out of his arm, attaching them to the windows, reassuring Eddie by saying, “I got us.” And my heart melted.
Things get even spicier when Venom is forced out of Eddie’s body by the boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams). It’s a break-up of sorts, but as we know with rom-coms, that won’t last for long. Venom inhabits Anne and makes his way back to Eddie, who at this point has gotten himself captured by Drake’s men again.
After freeing Eddie, Venom plants a long, hot French kiss on Eddie while still bonded to Anne’s body. This sequence for me makes it clear that not only is Venom pansexual, he is also likely open to polyamory. (Side note: I found a panel from a Venom comic that is the exact colors of the pansexual flag. Coincidence? I think not.)
As Venom and Eddie reunite to save the day, Eddie asks what changed Venom’s mind about saving Earth. “You. You did, Eddie,” Venom states. Cue the strings because our happy couple is back, baby.
As the film ends, Venom and Eddie have reunited and found a way of living together in peace. There are also clearly some lingering feelings between Eddie and Anne and maybe even Venom and Anne. Maybe they could be one big, happy poly family?
Tumblr’s Symbrock Community and Future Hopes
Over on Tumblr the shipping community for Venom and Eddie Brock is called Symbrock. For the week of October 15, 2018, the shipping phrase was the eighth most popular topic on the site, while Venom itself was the most popular topic. According to Amanda Brennan, head of Tumblr’s insights and Fandometrics at the time, the phrase had already existed among fans of the duo in the comics; however, the overt queer dialogue in the film helped the community grow.
Symbrock is still very active on the site, where you can find a ton of fan art, fan fiction, amusing commentary, serious discussions, and frankly just a lovely fan community three years later.
Every time I rewatch Venom, my hope for a super-queer sequel rises all over again. Based on the trailer they re-cut in 2018 to resemble a rom-com, Sony has definitely been paying attention to the franchise’s queer fanbase.
Cut to last month with the first trailer for the Andy Serkis-helmed sequel Venom: Let There By Carnage. It appears they are leaning all the way in. Our favorite alien boyfriends Venom and Eddie now share an apartment, and Venom has learned to cook breakfast. We are truly eating. Let’s just hope the rest of the film lives up to the queerness of that first trailer.