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Spider-Man 2’s Venom isn’t Eddie Brock — so who is he?

Is it an Osborn? Is it Kraven? Let’s investigate

Two Spider-Mans (Peter Parker and Miles Morales) battle Venom high above New York City at nighttime in artwork from Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment
Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Venom is one of Spider-Man’s most valuable allies in many Marvel stories, but he always has to play the role of villain first. Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, the sequel to the 2018 web-slinger game and its 2020 spinoff, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, is setting up the classic battle between its Spider-Mans and Venom. But when Insomniac Games creative director Bryan Intihar confirmed that the highly anticipated sequel will come to PlayStation 5 this October, he teased that Venom’s identity in the game may remain a mystery until players discover it for themselves.

This came as a bit of a shock to Marvel’s Spider-Man fans, as the finale of the first game heavily hints at who will take on the symbiote in the sequel. With the very limited amount of information we have, we wanted to gather up all the facts and do some old-fashioned Daily Bugle investigating. Who is Venom in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2? Let’s see if we can figure it out.

Who isn’t Venom

Venom in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment

During the Summer Game Fest reveal, Intihar told host Geoff Keighley that the most famous Venom — journalist, meathead, and onetime rival to Peter Parker, Eddie Brock — won’t be inside the symbiote this time. This is one of the few things we know for sure about Venom in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Keighley asked if one of the Osborns was Venom, but Intihar only confirmed that Brock was out of the running (which we’ll revisit further down).

Who else do we know isn’t Venom? Well, most non-male characters are also probably out. The reveal featured some artwork of Venom — whose suit/skin, much like the Spider-Mans, should look very familiar to comic fans — and the character does look conventionally masculine. We also heard him speak with a masculine voice in a previous trailer for the game. When the Venom symbiote (or any symbiote) uses a femme body as a host, the combined body typically takes on more *cough* stereotypically feminine features (e.g., Michelle Williams in the first Venom movie).

The Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 Collector’s Edition, complete with giant Venom statue Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Who else? Well: Neither Miles or Peter are Venom. This might seem obvious, but with Peter wearing a symbiote suit at some point in the game, anything is possible. However, both the artwork shown during the show and the pre-order statue for the game depict Venom fighting both Spider-Mans in their classic suits. Could that be someone other than Peter or Miles under the masks? It’s possible! But at that point we’re talking about some marketing shenanigans, and that’s not worth getting into.

Finally, Intihar did say something else interesting about Venom in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, which is that Insomniac is looking to tell an “original story,” something fans haven’t seen in the movies or comics. This is a surprisingly loaded statement if you take it literally, because almost every notable Marvel character, hero, and villain has worn a symbiote at some point in comics history. But before we proceed, I don’t think we can take this as literally as it seems, or that Venom in Spider-Man 2 will be someone who has never worn the moniker in any Spider-Man fiction. Instead it seems it will be someone uncommon or unusual to mainstream fans. We’ve already seen two live-action Eddie Brock Venoms, so that’s probably why he’s out of the running.

Is Harry Osborn Venom?

Harry Osborn — Peter’s childhood friend and son to the mayor, Norman — is absolutely the prime candidate for Venom in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. Or, at the very least, Harry is who Insomniac wants players to think will be Venom.

At the end of Marvel’s Spider-Man, it’s revealed that Harry (who was “out of the country” for the entire game) was actually in what is essentially a bacta tank hidden in Norman’s apartment. Harry is sick with the same disease that killed his mother, and Norman is going to any lengths to ensure he’s cured. This particular therapy seems to be symbiote-related, and we see Harry tied up in the tank amid a bunch of black, gooey webs.

This is a pretty obvious and hard-to-ignore tease. And when Venom showed up in one of the first trailers for Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, most fans of the first game (myself included) assumed it was Harry. But Intihar’s unwillingness to confirm or deny an Osborn Venom does make things a bit tricky. Is it actually not Harry? Or is Insomniac trying to sow seeds of doubt to build up the reveal in-game? It’s impossible to say for sure, but Harry seems like the obvious host for Venom in this universe.

Is Norman Osborn Venom?

Prior to Insomniac’s release date announcement, Norman would’ve been a distant second to Harry on the “who is Venom” chart. But with Intihar being so coy, Norman has really shot up in the rankings. Giving Norman the symbiote — and then potentially letting Harry take on the classic Green Goblin role in a different game — could be just the right mix of familiar and different (something Insomniac nailed in the first game) that the studio is going for.

Norman is also well positioned to become Venom’s host based on the tease, so fans wouldn’t feel like they were being baited back in 2018. I mean, Venom (presumably, it could be a different symbiote) is currently living in Norman’s apartment. And Norman goes to visit his dying son on the regular. It doesn’t seem too far-fetched that Norman’s carelessness and ambition could get the better of him during a late-night visit.

Is Kraven Venom?

Peter Parker web-zips into Kraven the Hunter while Miles Morales zaps someone in the background Image: Insomniac Games/Sony Interactive Entertainment

Kraven the Hunter is one of the big bads in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, and will likely be the threat that causes Peter to first debut his classic symbiote suit. But could Kraven also be Venom?

Venom typically is pretty beefy even in the hands of smaller men (no offense to Tom Hardy, but he’s only 5-foot-9, and Venom is massive in those films), but Kraven already has the shoulders for it. It’s also relatively easy to imagine a world where Kraven loses to Spider-Man’s symbiote suit and then dons one of his own to get an advantage against his prey.

One of the few things going against this theory is that Kraven does typically keep his weird lion vest when he dons the symbiote, and the Venom we see in the art is a very classic, vest-less Venom.

Is Kingpin Venom?

Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk is a short-lived heel in both Marvel’s Spider-Man and Miles Morales. In the first game, Peter puts the big man in jail in the first 30 minutes of gameplay. And in Miles Morales, Miles stops some of the shady deals Kingpin is trying to make from behind bars. If Fisk gets out of prison in the sequel, he already has a bone to pick with each of the Spider-Mans in this universe. And, crucially, he knows he’ll lose to Peter if he just tries to fight him again without a significant increase in power.

There are two minor problems with Kingpin wielding the Venom suit in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. The first is that this Venom looks much bigger than Miles and Peter in the artwork, but he’s not Kingpin big. Kingpin would actually need to shrink a bit to fit in the symbiote body, which isn’t impossible, but seems unlikely.

Still, Fisk fits “unique” better than any other candidate here, so it’s worth keeping an eye on him as a hail-mary choice.

Is it someone else?

J.K. Simmons, looking angry, as J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Rami’s Spider-Man. Image: Sony Pictures

New York is a pretty big city, so even if we keep the restrictions to male Spider-Verse characters for Venom, there are a near-infinite amount of choices.

One of the Sinister Six from the last game? Sure! How about the other most famous Venom, who also didn’t appear in the first game, Flash Thompson? Why not!

There are characters that appeared in the first game that could make the move over to Venom with relative ease. And then there are so many “normal dudes” who haven’t appeared in the games yet who could also get Venomized.

Personally, I’m hoping we see Darin De Paul’s J. Jonah Jameson take on the symbiote, if only because I’d love to see a cigar between those big ol’ teeth.

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