The other problem with the teaser is that it failed to even hint at how Tom Holland’s Spider-Man might play his part in this story – we know it’s very likely he will, as part of the pact Sony made with Marvel to allow the wall-crawler to join the latter studio’s wildly successful cinematic universe in last year’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. Will Venom director Ruben Fleischer choose to avoid the symbiote’s comic-book origin story, which was borrowed almost wholesale for Spider-Man 3? If so, how will the wisecracking webslinger feature, given the loss of his natural place in the story as the first owner of the “alternate” spider-suit that turns out to be a devious alien creature, and later transfers its affections to Brock?
Perhaps difficulties in including Holland, as well as the Spidey 3 debacle, explain why Sony has chosen to play so heavily on its signing of Hardy to the role, rather than feed fans’ affection for Venom itself. Yet this is a dangerous game to play, not least because it runs contrary to the very rubric that Sony is so desperate to mimic. For Marvel has triumphed largely due to its commitment to ensuring it is always the characters themselves, rather than the actors who inhabit the suit, who are the true stars of these pictures.