It isn’t always a smooth transition from comic book to movie. What works on the page may not necessarily work on the screen. And that is the situation we seem to face with this new Venom movie, based on the popular Spider-Man villain of Marvel Comics.

The Venom “symbiote” (“sim-BEE-oat” unless you’re Jenny Slate) is a sentient pile of amorphous goo. In the comics, it comes from an alien planet; in the film, it looks like it’s engineered in a lab. Either way, these symbiotes can attach to human hosts and augment their strength. In Marvel Comics, the symbiote first bonds with Spider-Man, and slowly begins to turn him bad; eventually he rejects the symbiote and it attaches itself to one of his enemies, a disgruntled reporter named Eddie Brock. (This storyline served as the source material for Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3.)

When Spider-Man wears the symbiote, it looks like a sleek black version of his standard costume. Attached to Eddie Brock, it turns into something more monstrous, with a gaping maw and razor-sharp fangs. And the upcoming Venom movie does a pretty faithful job of recreating his classic look (created by Todd MacFarlane, and then refined by artists like Erik Larsen and Mark Bagley).

But staring at the movie version of comics Venom has left me confused by something. Particularly after I saw this new Japanese poster for the film:


Here Venom’s face is at least 70 percent mouth. The distended mandible is so gigantic it practically starts at the top of his head. At the back corner of the mouth there’s a bunch of symbiote strands connecting the top and bottom jaws, but you can still practically see clear through Venom’s cheek all the way to the night sky behind him.

And nowhere in there do we see even a hint of Tom Hardy. Where did he go?

The prevailing theory on the internet about Eddie Brock’s disappearing head inside Venom’s gigantic mouth is that a symbiote’s head is basically hollow. Venom is this big hulking brute, far bigger than ordinary human Eddie Brock, and so Brock is sort of floating inside his big mass, with his head actually somewhere inside Venom’s chest. You don’t see Eddie when Venom opens his mouth because he’s down below.

That idea might hold water for the movie too, except the new Venom trailer goes out of its way to show us that Tom Hardy’s head is inside Venom’s head. In the scene at the end, while Venom is rambling about a “turd in the wind” its face opens up and reveals Hardy as he (they) say “We are Venom.”


After the symbiote covers the rest of Hardy’s face and a quick cut to black, Venom lunges at the camera, giving us a shot right down his throat. Hardy has completely vanished. He was right there a second ago!


Given that we just saw Hardy chilling inside Venom’s head, what we should see in that moment is something like this (forgive my crude Photoshop skills):


In a comic, it’s easier to dismiss these sorts of issues as quirks of anatomy or illustration. In flesh and blood and CGI symbiote, it’s a little bit trickier. (This also speaks to the difference between a two-dimensional drawing and a three-dimensional image.) I guess it’s possible that in that split-second cut to black, Tom Hardy’s head dips down inside Venom. But that raises more issues. Is Tom Hardy scrunched up at the bottom in the fetal position? Just how cramped is it inside the Venom suit? Is it super uncomfortable, like the row of seats on an airplane that don’t recline? Is he constantly moving up and down in that thing? This seems like a really poor way to go through life lethally protecting people.

There’s one other possibility: The symbiote of the comics has some camouflage and shape-changing abilities. When Peter Parker wears it, it can morph to look like his street clothes, or help him blend into his surroundings and effectively turn invisible. So conceivably Venom could camouflage something while it sat inside its mouth and make it look like there’s a big hole where, in fact, there’s actually This Means War star Tom Hardy.

I have absolutely no idea why a symbiote would expend energy doing this though. Maybe it got sick of people making snide comments about the gigantic Tom Hardy head in its mouth. Maybe Venom is secretly very vain and superficial and feels deeply stung by personal insults. Maybe Venom’s done focus groups and found that a giant slimy cavity is scarier than seeing the guy who appeared in Peaky Blinders staring back at you. (It’s debatable, in my opinion.)

Whatever the reason, I accept this explanation because otherwise I will literally think about this every single time Venom is onscreen in this movie and I don’t need that. Okay, so now that that’s settled let’s move on to the next Venom question: Why is he talking about turds? Is the symbiote made out of turds?

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