The Venom Symbiote is one of Marvel‘s most intriguing and interesting characters. Ever since his debut as Spider-Man’s (in)famous ‘Black Suit’, Venom has intrigued fans who wanted more of the character, especially after he bonded with ruined journalist Eddie Brock. Now, Venom has evolved a lot during the years and he has changed his personality on several occasions. That is what prompted us to analyze his very nature and to tell you whether Venom is a villain or a hero.
Starting off as a villain, Venom has since evolved and discovered his heroic side, but he never became a full hero. He is what you’d call an antihero, similar to Wolverine, albeit a bit scarier. Venom’s heroism is not much more expressed, but he doesn’t always do it as the heroes would.
In order to fully understand Venom’s nature, we have to analyze the character’s history and the development of his relationship with Eddie Brock. That is, in a way, essential for us to understand why he is the way he is now, and how he evolved from being a true villain to becoming a loveable antihero.
The evolution of Venom
Symbiotes are a fictional race of extraterrestrial amorphous parasites and one of them gave rise to Venom. Initially, the Venom Symbiote was not as violent and ruthless as his fellow Symbiotes, which is why he was considered crazy and exiled to the Battleworld.
When the Beyonder organized the Secret Wars, he chose the very planet where the symbiote had been exiled as a battleground and, after Spider-Man ruined his costume, he was sent to a room where there was a machine to replicate it and inadvertently released the symbiote from the cage, which joined him as if it were a costume.
The alien costume enhanced the physical faculties of Spider-Man, as well as giving him a resistance to the strenuous of invulnerability, a more effective healing factor, creating tentacles in case of need and knowing how to produce and cast cobwebs even without the help of his old web launchers, making Wall Climbing practically unbeatable.
After some time, Spider-Man returned to Earth, taking the symbiote with him. Shortly after returning to his old life, Spider-Man began to notice his overly “advanced” abilities and a change in his personality. Peter then disposed of the alien costume thanks to Reed Richards.
The symbiote still managed to escape by trying to reunite with its host, so it disguised itself as one of Peter’s habitual customs and rejoined him. As a result of merging with Peter’s mind, the symbiote is immune to the spider-sense so it cannot be perceived.
After discovering the symbiont’s deception, Peter began a fight with the alien and, heading towards the bell tower of a church, he exploited the tolling of the bells to remove the symbiote from himself definitively.
The alien remained a refugee in the church, hating Spider-Man and waiting for his revenge. There, he met Eddie Brock, a journalist who hated Spider-Man to death because he accused him of ruining his life.
The hatred of Eddie Brock and the discovery of the powers that the symbiote gave him allowed a fusion without the limits imposed by the conscience of Peter Parker: thus was born Venom, a highly lethal being.
Eddie’s character is due to a very sad childhood and adolescence. The young Eddie tried in every way to gain the trust and attention of his father and, after university, moved to New York and obtained a position as a reporter at the Daily Globe; in these years he too managed to find the love of a woman, Anne Weying.
In search of success, Eddie believed he had found the scoop of his life when he casually thought he had managed to get in touch with the notorious serial killer Sin-Eater: thanks to his articles Eddie grew his popularity as a journalist but the news was false, as Spider-Man delivered the real Sin-Eater to the authorities.
Following this, Brock was fired and lost his reputation, his wife, and his life. The symbiote, still very attached to Spider-Man, became more violent and bloodthirsty and was able to feed Brock’s hatred; the alien also revealed to him the secret identity of Spider-Man.
The obsession with Spider-Man led to a clash that ended with the defeat of Venom and his arrest; the authorities, however, were unable to separate Brock from the symbiote, and he escaped. Brock then built a distorted ethic by using articles in which Spider-Man was described as an outlaw as justification for his hatred.
During a later escape from prison a part of the alien detached from his body and penetrated into the body of Eddie’s cellmate, the serial killer Cletus Kassady, and from this union was born Carnage, a more evil and powerful version of Venom.
Moved by a distorted moral code, Venom assumed the role of protector of the innocent by inflicting very severe and unthinkable punishments on criminals. A few years later Eddie decided to give up the symbiote because he was ill with terminal cancer and sold it in an auction reserved for the criminal world.
The two would later reunite, but the Symbiote also had a role in the creation of Anti Venom, who, when fused with Flash Thompson, worked with the government.
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Is Venom a villain or a hero?
Now that we’ve gone over all the essential facts, we can give a final verdict on Venom’s true nature. Namely, you’ve seen how the Venom Symbiote evolved and that evolution is something that has to be taken into account when the character is evaluated in any way.
We started off with the villainous Venom who, after being rejected by Spider-Man more than once, came to Earth and swore revenge on the Crimson Arachnid. Venom was a beast at the time, completely unaccustomed to Earth’s morals and all he wanted was to satisfy his needs.
That is why he found a perfect host in the ruined Eddie Brock, a brilliant journalist whose career was ruined by a pathological liar. Brock’s ruin was the result of a series of unfortunate events, but now completely hopeless and on the verge of suicide, he found consolation in god and in his hatred for Spider-Man, whom he blamed for his all, although Spider-Man had nothing to do with it.
Sharing that aspect between them, Venom and Eddie bonded quickly and they became a villainous duo that terrorized New York City. But, after several clashes with Spider-Man and Eddie’s moral reformation, the Venom Symbiote changed with Eddie as well.
He was aware of the dangers that Carnage and Toxin represented, as well as the Symbiotes created by the Life Foundation. He also collaborated with Spider-Man on several occasions, and while the Venom Symbiote did fight Eddie on several occasions because of its feral nature, a reformed Eddie Brock would always calm Venom down.
Ultimately, Eddie Brock developed an individual moral code that, albeit imperfect, leaned more on the side of good than anything else. He stopped being a villain, that much is certain, but he never became a true hero either, although he got “dangerously” close to it.
This is why we have Venom down as an antihero. He is someone very similar to Wolverine in that aspect – he does most things the heroes do, he just does them a tad differently. So, Venom is neither a villain, nor a hero, but a very interesting antihero.