'Venom' Marvel Movie: Why the Director Chose the Comic 'Lethal Protector'

And why Spider-Man is nowhere to be found.

While Spider-Man is kind of dead in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of his most famous enemies is alive and living his best life.

Out in theaters on October 5, Venom, from director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) tells a new origin for Spider-Man nemesis Venom, the single entity of a sentient alien goo latched onto the body of disgraced journalist Eddie Brock, played by Tom Hardy.

Tom Hardy (left) and Ruben Fleischer (right) on the set of 'Venom.'

Sony Pictures

Independent from the “MCU,” Venom tells its story without Spidey, but that doesn’t mean Fleischer ignored comic book canon. In fact, the film bears a strong resemblance to the 1993 Marvel miniseries Venom: Lethal Protector. Written by David Michelinie, that comic saw Eddie/Venom leave New York for San Francisco, as part of an agreement with Spider-Man, and starts a new life as a “lethal” guardian over the Bay Area.

In an interview with Inverse, Fleischer says he adapted Lethal Protector precisely because it was a key Venom tale that broke him free from Spider-Man.

“It’s not a Spider-Man heavy story. It’s about Eddie and Venom,” Fleischer tells Inverse. “That book takes place when Venom and Eddie are leaving New York and go to San Francisco to start a new chapter.

“There’s a lot of themes beyond just the setting that relates to our film,” he adds, mentioning both his film and the comic includes homeless characters. (In a 2017 report by Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the AHAR reported that 1.23 of all homeless in the U.S. live in San Francisco.)

From 'Venom: Lethal Protector' #1, by Mark Bagley, Sam De La Rossa, Al Milgrom, and David Michelinie.

Marvel Entertainment

Fleischer adds that Lethal Protector gave a solid foundation for allowing him and screenwriters Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, and Kelly Marcel to explore Venom’s “anti-hero” personality, rather than just being a villain.

“Venom becomes more of an anti-hero in that series,” Fleischer says, “Normally he’s a villain because he’s against Spider-Man. But they reach a truce and he’s on his own. Just the name alone, ‘Lethal Protector’ indicates that he’s going to help you but it comes at a mortal cost. He’s that anti-hero as a starting place.”

Tom Hardy, on the set of 'Venom.'

Sony Pictures

And it was never in the plans for Venom to include Spider-Man even as a cameo, Fleischer confirms. “We wanted this to be a stand-alone Venom movie, where it exists on its own two feet without Spider-Man,” he says. “We intentionally avoided Spider-Man just so that Venom and Eddie could have their own story to experience.”

Venom hits theaters on October 5.

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