Created by Todd McFarlane in 1988, Venom has gone on to be one of Spider-Man’s most beloved foes. First cameoing in Amazing Spider-Man #299 in which he pushes Peter Parker out in front of a moving train, he would pop up in full the next issue, henceforth becoming one of the wall-crawler’s biggest headaches for years to come.
And as with any big-time comic book character, Venom has made the transition to TV and film. Here, we rank the big guy’s top 10 appearances in those disciplines:
10) Phineas & Ferb (2008)
What more can be said? Phineas & Ferb is a children’s show and its Venom adaptation caters to that. Portrayed as a lackey to Red Skull, Venom doesn’t get much focus in this jam-packed crossover episode. Like his co-villains, he’s portrayed as more comic relief than a threat. But alas, for young children, it’s serviceable.
9) Spider-Man Unlimited (1999)
This 1999 semi-sequel to the 1994 show is generally despised. The show takes the established Spider-Man and transports him into Counter-Earth. Alas, his old villains Cletus Kassady/Carnage and Eddie Brock/Venom are also in this cartoon’s universe, hoping to take it over with symbiotes. This Venom is serviceable and has a history with Spider-Man, even remembering his secret identity. But the clunky animation in his fight scenes and his ridiculous ‘take over the world’ motivations make him less memorable than his 1994 counterpart.
8) Guardians of the Galaxy (2015)
This Spider-Man crossover has the titular Guardians go head-to-head with a Carnage-merged Thanos. In order to beat the titan, Spidey merges with the Venom symbiote and uses it to subdue him. It’s a kids’ cartoon and the animation is certainly pretty, but there’s not enough story or lore behind it to make it a compelling Venom appearance.
7) Hulk and the Agents of Smash (2013)
In this Hulk spin-off cartoon, Doc Ock creates the Venom symbiote to absorb Hulk and friends’ gamma energy to defeat Spider-Man. There’s not much to say about this one – the episode is an excuse to see what the Agents of Smash would look like if Venom merged with them. The Hulk’s version is large, green, and extremely corny, but not particularly interesting in this Ultimate Spider-Man crossover.
6) Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Topher Grace, famous for starring in That 70’s Show, isn’t the first person fans think of when it comes to Eddie Brock. Heck, he doesn’t strike one as an obvious fellow to attract the wants of a symbiote. Yet, when Sam Raimi cast Grace as Venom for the third Spider-Man movie, it was a reality we were forced to contend with.
Despite these shortcomings, Grace does his best with what he’s given. The actor was a fan of the storyline growing up and does exude some of the hatred present in his appearance as Venom in this movie. However, it’s hard to take Grace’s Brock/Venom seriously in this movie because of his small stature, his lame wisecracks, and awkward CGI appearance. But given Venom was hastily written into the movie’s script, it’s not entirely Grace’s fault.
5) Spider-Man (2017)
Venom returns in the latest animated series starring the web-slinger. This time, it’s a dual role, with Robbie Daymond voicing Eddie and Benjamin Diskin reprising his role as Venom. Daymond does an admirable job of portraying Eddie’s frustration with Peter, while Driskin has notably improved in his voice as the intimidating Venom.
Like Ultimate Spider-Man, the cartoon boasts some impressive animation, especially in its fight scenes. This rings true in a fight sequence where Spidey uses a wrist-bound sonic device to fend off his slimy opponent. Again, many fanboys derided the cartoon on its debut, but Venom’s appearance here shows that it does some things right.
4) Ultimate Spider-Man (2012)
The Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon is controversial among fans for its more light-hearted approach to its title character and supporting cast. But you gotta give credit where credit is due – the animation is pretty slick and its version of Venom is solid.
US is unique in that it doesn’t feature the Brock version of Venom at all. Instead, Harry Osborn, Green Goblin, and Flash Thompson are among its hosts during the course of the series. But big props must go to the fact that the series’ symbiote is created in a lab by Doc Ock of all people, using Spider-Man’s blood.
3) Spectacular Spider-Man (2008)
Spectacular Spider-Man takes a leaf out of Ultimate Spider-Man‘s (comic) book, having Eddie Brock as a college-age guy with an interest in science. He is also good friends with Peter Parker…for a time. He starts going cold on Peter after images of Spider-Man battling the Lizard emerge in the Daily Bugle. Brock sees this as Peter making money off Doc Conner’s tragic situation.
As in previous iterations, the symbiote finds Brock after Spidey shakes it loose. The symbiote amplifying Brock’s anger, which inevitably leads to a confrontation with Peter. It’s a decent adaptation, one might suppose, but not the best. I never liked Benjamin Driskin’s voice for Eddie – it always sounded a bit kiddy. Peter never does quite have the negative impact on his life as he does in the 1994 cartoon.
2) Venom (2018)
Marvel producer Avi Arad had hoped to get a standalone Venom film going since 2007. In 2018, the solo Venom movie finally surfaced, starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and his symbiotic alter-ego. And while the film’s story is so-so (it’s hard to make a Venom movie without Spidey), there’s no denying Hardy does well in his appearance.
Again portrayed as a struggling journalist, Brock’s life changes forever when he merges with the Venom symbiote. This time, the film gives light to the comedic aspects of the character, which helps ease the tension of its darker elements. The CGI Venom looks much better than the Spider-Man 3 version and Brock’s background is more sympathetic.
1) Spider-Man: The Animated Series (1994)
The 90’s animated Spider-Man series is considered one of the best Spidey shows ever. Not only is it the first cartoon to tell mature stories, but it is the first to portray Venom on-screen. Considering this, The Animated Series‘ adaptation of the character is truly an impressive first shot – and remains one of the most memorable (it even inspires the Spider-Man 3 movie’s Venom appearance).
Here, Venom feels more dangerous to Spider-Man than ever. Fueled by the symbiote’s power and Eddie Brock’s hatred, Venom nearly reveals Peter’s identity to the public and subtly threatens his loved ones. The series makes the character effective by introducing Brock several episodes pre-Venom, setting up his hatred for Spidey. Hank Azaria – famous for playing Moe in The Simpsons – performs the human side of Brock and the monstrous side of Venom with equal effectiveness, showing off his diverse talent.