Venom: Villain, Hero or Antihero? Dual Nature Explained
Venom is a truly interesting character since he is essentially a parasite being joined by its host. The Venom Symbiote was spawned during the reign of the dark elder god Knull and was one of the rare ones that disobeyed their creator. After the journey across the universe, where the symbiote joined many of their hosts, Spider-Man was actually the first Earth being that Venom bonded with. Of course, when Spider-Man realized the symbiote was alive and sentient, he rejected the parasite, which eventually found a new bond mate – none other than Eddie Brock. Together they became Venom and went on the hunt to destroy Spider-Man – at one point, Venom was Spider-Man’s most dangerous villain. However, as the years passed, Venom changed his alliances and “murked” the lines between the villain and the hero, which we will discuss in this article. So, is Venom considered a hero, villain, or antihero?
After being an archnemesis of Spider-Man, Venom is currently portrayed as an anti-hero who sometimes joins the heroes to help them destroy the common threat. Venom even started helping Spider-Man, putting aside his differences with Web-Slinger. The symbiote isn’t your classic hero or villain, but he is most certainly what we today call an anti-hero.
Venom is a fan-favorite character for a reason, especially with Eddie Brock as its host. The layered nature of this character is extremely interesting, and for that, we will discuss Venom’s character history with Spider-Man and how, once the most notorious villain, became less hostile towards Peter Parker.
Venom’s journey in Marvel Comics
We already mentioned that the Venom Symbiote originates from an eldritch god of darkness, Knull. It is believed that the dark lord created thousands of different symbiotes and that Venom was the 998th of its lineage. Knull created these parasites to return the world to the void, and when he realized symbiotes’ potential, he created them to attach to lesser beings and slowly take over the universe.
The Venom symbiote was specific since it didn’t want to obey the dark lord’s will and was exiled from its homeworld because of it. After the exile, the symbiote was discovered by Kree explorers and bonded with one of their soldiers, Tel-Kar, who was used to infiltrate the Skrull armada.
After the adventure with Tel-Kar, the symbiote bonded with another unnamed alien, but even after a few candidates, the parasite didn’t want to dominate but protect its hosts.
After being imprisoned by his own species, the Hive, during Secret Wars, Spider-Man encounters the parasite and bonds with it. The symbiote even assimilates some of Spider-Man’s powers into its own genome, and after some time, Peter Parker rejects the parasite after learning it is a sentient living being.
Finally, the symbiote finds its way to Eddie Brock, a journalist whose life is destroyed by none other than Spider-Man. Eddie Brock almost commits suicide, but the symbiote feels the journalist’s anger towards Spider-Man and bonds with the man, ultimately creating Venom.
Now, Venom had a few different hosts in Marvel Comics, with Flash Thompson and Mac Gargan being some of them, but Eddie Brock is the most notable and most important host of the Venom symbiote.
Eddie Brock’s hate towards Spider-Man and the symbiote’s will to protect its host created a powerful villain in Venom. Of course, knowing that the parasite was attached to Spider-Man before meeting Eddie Brock, Venom gained some of the Spider-Man powers as well.
At one point, particularly during the 1980s and 1990s, Venom was considered Spider-Man’s biggest archnemesis, and his character has been featured in many different fictional media – from games to TV animated series.
Interestingly enough, when the creators brainstormed about the idea of a new Spider-Man suit in the 1980s, they eventually decided to create a whole new character in Venom. Knowing that the Symbiote was first bonded with Spider-Man and then Eddie Brock makes these two characters really close.
Hence why, Venom’s journey from enemy to something else is pivotal for his character in Marvel Comics.
Is Venom a villain, hero, or anti-hero?
So, is Venom a villain, hero, or anti-hero? Any villain that changes their allegiances in comics is considered a version of an anti-hero character. If we call Venom a reluctant hero, I think that is still a wrong distinction of the symbiote. Venom always had villainous ways, but some circumstances made him work with the heroes or at least put his hate for them on pause because of a good deed or something else.
In the Amazing Spider-Man comic book, run from 1993, issues from #373 to #375 follow Venom seeing Spider-Man reuniting with his parents. During that time, Venom was in prison after he and Spider-Man defeated Carnage and ultimately betrayed one another. Fantastic Four stopped Venom from killing Spider-Man, and for that had to return to prison.
However, when the villain sees Spider-Man being happy with his parents, he escapes the prison and kidnaps them. Suddenly, the whole operation goes wrong when Brock’s ex-wife, Anne Weying, almost dies, but Spider-Man saves the woman at the last moment.
Venom sees the good deed of his archnemesis and makes amends with Spider-Man. This moment makes Eddie Brock move to San Francisco to help homeless people, and he eventually returns to New York to defeat the unhinged Carnage, who is destroying everything in his wake. The reluctant alliance between Venom and Spider-Man leads to the symbiote helping Avengers stop Carnage and eventually go into hiding.
These events made Venom the anti-hero, an enemy who reluctantly helps the heroes to reach a common goal. However, Venom cannot stay good forever and returns to his villainous ways and joins the Sinister Six group.
Venom’s determination to hunt Spider-Man is increased tenfold when Anne commits suicide after suffering from being bonded with the symbiote, and Brock thinks that the Web-Slinger is indirectly responsible for her death – Eddie thinks Anne killed herself because Spider-Man swung near her window in a black suit, which triggered her trauma.
Venom changed a few hosts after this storyline, but 2017 brought us, Eddie Brock as the host once again. However, this particular version of Eddie Brock proclaims Venom as his darling and love. We saw that briefly in Venom movies, especially in the second installment, where Brock is more “gentle” with the symbiote.
In the current Venom comic book run from 2021, Eddie Brock discovers he has a son Dylan, who takes over the mantle of Venom. The symbiote is mostly considered an anti-hero these days, and some fans even call his story more interesting than Spider-Man, who, frankly, has been struggling in comics in the last few years.