Can Tom Hardy Make a Venom 3 Spider-Man Showdown Happen?

Tom Hardy is making a passionate pitch for Venom to take on Spider-Man on the big screen, but the idea faces obstacles.

Tom Hardy on the Venom poster; Tom Holland from Spider-Man: Far from Home.
Photo: Sony Pictures

While sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage approaches its September 24 release date, star Tom Hardy is already envisioning designs for a prospective third film. Interestingly, for fans still unable to overlook the Spider-Man-less elephant in the franchise room, said designs are auspicious, since they involve a push to finally get the symbiote-joined Eddie Brock and Tom Holland’s Wall-Crawler together to potentially ignite a live-action version of their era-defining comic book rivalry. However, given the twisted web in which Sony’s Marvel movies are stuck, such a face-off would likely require major studio wrangling and multiverse magic.

Hardy is making a passionate push for a yet-to-be-greenlit Venom 3 to center around a battle between his title character and your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man; a notion that seems obvious, seeing as Venom was introduced in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man back in 1988, created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane as Spidey’s bulky, menacing doppelganger empowered by the shapeshifting alien symbiote costume the hero abandoned. While still mockingly brandishing Spider-Man’s signature symbol on his chest, Venom quickly became an A-list villain and eventual anti-hero, and one of Marvel’s most popular characters, although always a Spider-Man character.

Yet, by contrast, the Venom film franchise has been a curiosity, with the 2018 solo film’s status as a quasi-spinoff of Sony’s Marvel Cinematic Universe-adherent Spider-Man films that bore no apparent connection to the Wall-Crawler, and even set itself away from Spidey’s New York City stomping ground to the other side of the contiguous U.S. in San Francisco. However, in an interview with Esquire, Hardy is unambiguously lobbying for the cinematic connectivity necessary for a Spider-Man showdown.

“I would be remiss if I wasn’t trying to steer any kind of connectivity,” Hardy said when pressed on the Spider-Man question. “I wouldn’t be doing the job if I wasn’t awake and open to any opportunity or eventuality or be excited by that. Obviously, that’s a large canyon to leap, to be bridged by one person alone, and it would take a much higher level of diplomacy and intelligence, sitting down and talking, to take on an arena such as that.”

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The task of bridging said canyon is daunting and complex on both a business level—pertaining to Sony’s long-held license for the Spider-Man film rights—and a narrative level—given the confusing, contradiction-filled continuity of the SPUMC (Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters). One must first recall the historic nature of the studio deal between Sony Pictures and Disney’s Marvel Studios that facilitated the creation of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man and his quick introduction in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.

While, for Sony, it was a profitable move that pleased fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it also stood as a monumental detour from the studio’s method of maintaining its own separate Spider-Man universe—perhaps fueled by the success of director Sam Raimi’s 2002-2007 Spider-Man Trilogy—which has been kept away from the MCU. Since the deal saw the quick, ignominious erasure of Sony’s Andrew Garfield-starring efforts, 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man and its 2014 sequel, it did seem that Sony had abandoned an increasingly unfeasible dream of Spider-Man autonomy to ride the MCU’s gravy train.

That idea came to a halt when 2018’s Venom came out of the gate cold with an origin story that completely contradicted the classic Marvel Comics origin story, and proved that Sony’s pre-Civil War plans to maintain separate usage of the characters provided by the Spider-Man rights remained curiously prevalent. Yet, despite lukewarm reviews, the strategy paid off, with the film going on to gross $856 million worldwide.

Even after the success of Holland’s MCU-adherent version of the Wall-Crawler, rumblings still persist of plans even beyond the upcoming Jared Leto-headlined Morbius to build a series of Spidey-adjacent solo films—mooted features centered on characters such as Kraven the Hunter, Spider-Woman, and even Madame Webb—toward an MCU-contradicting Avengers-type megamovie centered on Spidey-stalking villain contingent The Sinister Six.

Mind you, these spinoffs, akin to Venom, would presumably arrive cold without an MCU-christening hand-off from Holland’s Spider-Man, who has famously swung opposite the MCU’s elite in films such as the box-office-breaking Avengers: Endgame, and prepares to debut third solo film Spider-Man: No Way Home, which prospectively yields game-changing magic-based multiverse implications with the presence of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange.   

Moreover, Venom: Let There Be Carnage director Andy Serkis recently threw down the gauntlet for anyone attempting to theorize about Spider-Man or MCU connections in his film, first by stating that “We’re treating this very much as his own world. Venom’s story is his own world.”

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Furthermore, its May-released teaser trailer doubled down on the separation with a quickly-flashed scene in which Stephen Graham’s Detective Mulligan is reading a copy of the Daily Bugle, the New York rag run by vindictive anti-Spider-Man editor J. Jonah Jameson, who unwittingly employs Peter Parker, for freelance photography.

Stephen Graham as Mulligan in Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
Sony Pictures

Ironically, while, at first glance, such an Easter egg would seemingly serve as the seed for Spider-Man appearances, it is, in fact, the opposite, since it contradicts Spider-Man: Far from Home’s shocking post-credits scene, in which we learn that, in the MCU, the Daily Bugle is not a print newspaper, but a “controversial” conspiracy website run by J. Jonah Jameson, a new version played by the character’s classic portrayer, J.K. Simmons.

Consequently, with the Venom films presumed to not even take place in the same universe as Tom Hardy’s Wall-Crawler, much less the same geographic coastal location, the task of parting the proverbial seas to make a Venom and Spider-Man battle happen would likely require the former to somehow be brought into the universe of the latter. Indeed, Spidey, and the already-massive MCU legacy he brings, is unlikely to be grandfathered into the isolated Venom movie universe. After all, the two films seemingly bear no direct connection even to fellow SPUMC offering Morbius (more on that in a moment,) or, potentially, Sony’s constantly-evolving array of other planned projects. Nevertheless, the apparent loftiness of the would-be Spider-Man meeting has done nothing to diminish Hardy’s resolve.

“Should both sides be willing, and it be beneficial to both sides, I don’t see why it couldn’t be,” Hardy said. “I hope and strongly, with both hands, push, eagerly, towards that potential, and would do anything to make that happen, within what’s right in business. But it would be foolish not to head towards the Olympic Games if you were running 100 metres, so yeah! I want to play on that field.”

Interestingly, Morbius, rather than Venom, seems destined to become the exception to Sony’s Spidey-less spinoff strategy. The upcoming film will have Jared Leto star as the “Living Vampire” antagonist and subsequent antihero introduced back in 1971 in the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man.

Jared Leto in Morbius.
Sony Pictures

Yet, an intriguing trailer arrived for the pandemic-delayed film back in Jan. 2020, which showcased the clear MCU-connecting presence of Michael Keaton’s still-incarcerated Spider-Man: Homecoming villain Adrian Toomes/The Vulture, and further flew the flag of connectivity with a scene in which Leto’s Morbius walks by a poster of Spider-Man marred by a spray-painted message of “murderer,” likely referencing the post-credit events of 2019’s Spider-Man: Far from Home, in which a posthumously-dropped video from Mysterio framed an ousted Peter Parker/Spider-Man for his murder. Thus, Morbius might provide the template for how future SPUMC offerings—like, say, Venom 3—can exist on the periphery of the acknowledged MCU.

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Hardy’s clearly expressed desire to tangle with Spider-Man on the big screen will first require a significant amount of cooperation from Marvel Studios—namely its hands-on head honcho, Kevin Feige—regarding the apparent universe-diverging developments potentially set to alter the trajectory of the MCU. With Disney+ television series Loki having recently introduced the presumably necessary multiverse element, early details from recently-revealed MCU movie merchandise indicate that it will be further explored in the December-17-scheduled Spider-Man: No Way Home and, subsequently, in the March-25-scheduled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

For now, though, Venom will have to relegate his consumption of bad guys’ brains to his own little cinematic corner, with Venom: Let There Be Carnage scheduled to hit theaters on Friday, Sept. 24.