Venom features an easy-to-miss cameo appearance from a longtime supporting character belonging to Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man titles.
In its earliest minutes, Venom sees a Life Foundation space shuttle experience turbulence when making its descent back to Earth. Returning to the planet in a fiery wreck, the remnants of the space shuttle crash land in Malaysia.
It’s there that a recovery crew claims the wreckage, with one scientist noting the shuttle was piloted by “Jameson” — a.k.a. John Jameson — who in the Marvel Comics lore is a famed astronaut and son of Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, who frequently targeted crime-fighter Spider-Man for his spotlight-stealing super heroics.
In Venom, Jameson’s body is briefly overtaken by a symbiote — a gooey, parasitic alien — who trades Jameson’s body for that of a fresh one belonging to a first responder.
Stuntman Chris O’Hara is credited with playing astronaut JJ Jameson, III, who in the comics first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #1 as a NASA astronaut rescued by Spider-Man from a failing space capsule in one of the rookie superhero’s earliest outings.
Jameson later found himself cursed by a gemstone when collecting lunar rock samples on the moon. When struck by the light of a full moon, the gem transformed Jameson into a horrific werewolf-like abomination, who would frequently battle Spider-Man as the vicious creature known as Man-Wolf.
The inclusion of Jameson and the symbiotes first making their way to Earth by way of a crashing space shuttle pays clear homage to 1994’s Spider-Man animated series, also produced by Venom’s Avi Arad.
In that series, Jameson sought out what was called “Promethium X” on an asteroid: a substance that could be harvested as a replacement for fossil fuels. When he went to claim the ore, Jameson was scared off by an oozing black liquid, which would hitch a ride to Earth and go on to bond with Spider-Man — increasing his already amazing superhuman abilities.
After forcibly separating himself from the living alien creature, a scorned symbiote would go on to bond with Peter Parker’s chief rival, Eddie Brock, becoming the hate-fueled supervillain known as Venom.
When speaking to ComicBook.com and explaining why Venom is rated PG-13 instead of R, Arad pointed to Venom’s history as a merchandise-moving character in the hit ’94 animated series.1comments
“Can you get away with not R so that other people can see? So that younger people can see?” Arad said. “I made an animated show. There was a lot of Venom in there. It was in ’94. There’s no reason to put in violence.”
Venom, starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, and Riz Ahmed, is now playing.