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Venom’s movie design was inspired by an iconic Spider-Man artist

Venom 2
Venom Let There Be Carnage Pic credit: Sony

The movie Venom owes a considerable debt to a classic Spider-Man artist. 

Matt Millard shared images from his work on 2018’s Venom film and how the film version was inspired by the work of the iconic Spider-Man artist who also helped created Carnage. 

Venom’s history

The seed of Venom lays in 1984’s Secret Wars series where, while on a mission in space, Spider-Man discovered a machine that gave him what appeared to be an all-black costume with tricks like creating its own webbing and altering it into other clothing.

Spider-Man soon discovered this “suit” was actually an alien symbiote that tried to bond with him. He drove it off with it seemingly destroyed by the sound of church bells (sonic sounds, along with fire, being its key weaknesses).

In Amazing Spider-Man #300, the first major work by future superstar artist Todd McFarlane, Mary Jane Watson, came home to find what seemed to be Peter in the black costume until it suddenly grew a colossal mouth with tongue.

Facing this figure, Spidey discovered it was the alien, now bound to Eddie Brock, a reporter whose career was destroyed when Spider-Man inadvertently revealed his greatest story was a fraud. Blaming Spider-Man for his downfall, Eddie was joined by the alien to become Venom, obsessed with destroying Spider-Man.

McFarlane and his successor, Erik Larsen, emphasized Venom’s twisted appearance, which included a huge slobbering tongue and emphasizing his alien looks. But the movie Venom drew inspiration from another artist.

Venom and Bagley

On his Twitter feed, Millard shared his original concepts for Venom created in 2017 and emphasizing that rather than McFarlane or Larsen, his Venom was based on the look by Mark Bagley.

Larsen’s successor on Amazing Spider-Man, Bagley’s acclaimed five-year run on the book helped boost the character up. A key part was changing Venom from a pure villain into an antihero due to the character’s popularity.

This included the creation of Carnage, an even worse symbiote bound to psychotic serial killer Cletus Kasady. The battles of Venom and Carnage would wage for some time with Spider-Man caught in the middle. 

Bagley also joined with Brian Michael Bendis for a massive 111-issue run of Ultimate Spider-Man. This included creating a different Venom, this one the product of a lab experiment bound to an old friend of Peter and even more monstrous than the mainstream Marvel Venom. 

Venom’s future

Venom: Let There Be Carnage
The Venom: Let There By Carnage trailer. Pic credit: Sony

The use of Bagley is interesting as the movie Venom retains the freaky aspects of the McFarlane/Larsen versions with a hideous appearance and that huge tongue.

However, Bagley has long been acclaimed by fans for his realistic art, which aided Millard in seeing how a real-world Venom would look on screen.

Bagley has made a return to both Spider-Man and Venom with new art, and he may return to Carnage as well. This would be fitting with the coming Venom: Let There Be Carnage movie arriving in September. 

The movie has Tom Hardy returning as Eddie Brock/Venom with Woody Harrelson as Kasady/Carnage and another Bagley creation, Shriek, played by Naomie Harris. 

The artwork is an excellent showcase of how this legendary Spider-Man artist influenced the movie visions of his famous creations. 

Venom: Let There Be Carnage premiers in theaters September 24.

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