How Tom Hardy Turned Venom into a Queer Icon

Dropping the trailer for Venom: The Last Dance during Pride month is more than just a coincidence

Tom Hardy at Rave in Venom Let There Be Carnage
Photo: Sony Pictures

To some, releasing a trailer for Venom: The Last Dance during Pride month might just be a happy coincidence. But for queer fans of the Tom Hardy-led film series, the timing of this release was everything. While the previous entries in this film series, Venom and Venom: Let There Be Carnage, have been generally panned (including by some of our staff), there is a subset of fans who celebrate the films for the queer subtext lying beneath that flashy blockbuster facade. And a lot of this has to do with Tom Hardy’s portrayal of both Venom and Eddie Brock.

Venom and Eddie’s relationship in these films is so much more than that of just a host and his symbiotic alien parasite. Nay, this is a romantic epic about two outcasts and fuckups finding each other across the cosmos. And that’s something that Tom Hardy and co-writer Kelly Marcel have leaned into as the film series has progressed. 

With Hardy having more creative control over the character for the sequel, Let There Be Carnage became a story of queer discovery and coming out for both Venom and Eddie. They make food for each other; try their best to look out for one another; they even have a big messy breakup that leads Venom to go on their own quest of queer self-discovery at a rave.

In an interview discussing Let There Be Carnage, director Andy Serkis said that the “love affair” between Venom and Eddie is the center of the movie, and that Hardy and Marcel “were always about Venom coming out and going to a party that was a very sort of an LGBTQIA kind of festival, really, I’d call it, and so this is his coming out party basically. This is Venom’s coming-out party.”

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The rainbow colors and freedom of expression found at this rave are pretty blatantly queer-coded, as is the reunion between Eddie and Venom that comes afterward. Yet I’m sure there are some people that may be saying, “But what about Eddie’s relationship with Michelle Williams’ Anne? He clearly still cares about her.” And to them I say: the films clearly address that. 

Although she and Eddie may not technically be romantically involved anymore, they do often find themselves sharing Venom in a pseudo-polyamorous way. Anne very clearly enjoys her time with Venom, as they do with her. Eddie and Anne may not be dating in the traditional sense, but she is very much still a part of the symbiote polycule.

While we don’t yet know for sure whether or not Anne and her fiancé Dan (Reid Scott) will appear in The Last Dance, as they are notably absent from the trailer, both the title and the tagline “til death do they part” seem to suggest that Hardy and Marcel are once again leaning into the romance between the lead characters. This time, however, we may be veering closer to tragedy than comedy.

Though I will always argue that the Venom movies would be even better if Eddie and Venom didn’t always have to fight a big bad comic book villain by the end, and could instead focus on developing their own relationship, Hardy and Marcel have done so much to turn Venom into a queer icon. Having a queer-poly relationship at the center of a big name comic book franchise, even if it is partially subtextual, is no small feat during a time when so many “fans” like to cry “woke” at any piece of media that tells a different kind of story.

When asked about Venom’s status as a queer icon during press for Let There Be Carnage, Hardy said that he and Marcel really listened to what fans liked and didn’t like about the first movie, and that for him, making these films is about “entertaining people and giving people some joy, and having something to celebrate and go out and be entertained by it.”

And entertained they are. The Venom movies may be coming to an end, but their legacy will live on among Symbrock fans thanks to Hardy’s care for the characters. The Venom of these films may not be the terrifying monstrosity that some fans were hoping for, but if the outcome is instead a totally unexpected yet beloved queer franchise, then I say it’s worth it.

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