One Scene in ‘Venom’ Prevents It From Being Retconned Into the MCU

Producers on Sony’s Venom hope to one day have star Tom Hardy cross paths with Spider-Man star Tom Holland, but an otherwise innocuous scene in Venom makes a future crossover difficult — if not impossible.

The scene comes when Life Foundation scientist Dr. Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate) taps investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Hardy) to look into the shady dealings of her boss, billionaire industrialist Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), whose off-world exploits have resulted in living extraterrestrial creatures known as symbiotes making their way to Earth.

Eddie is surprised to learn of the existence of aliens, which have long been accepted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe following the Battle of New York that saw a freshly assembled band of Earth’s mightiest heroes ward off invading alien forces in 2012’s The Avengers.

Those events have since been dubbed “The Incident” in casual terms, and publicly recognized even long before aliens touched down in New York for a second time in Avengers: Infinity War.

Venom marks the first entry in "Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters, a Spider-Man-less universe set firmly outside Disney-owned Marvel Studios’ MCU that can be populated by the more than 900 Marvel Comics characters whose rights lie with Sony. Also planned are future Venom sequels and spinoffs headlined by Morbius the Living Vampire and Kraven the Hunter.

Last June, Amy Pascal — a producer on both Spider-Man: Homecoming and Venom — muddied the waters when she told FilmStarts the movies “will now take place in the world that we are creating for Peter Parker.”

“They’ll be adjuncts to it, they may be different locations, but it will still all be in the same world,” she said. “And they will be connected to each other as well.”

While Pascal appeared to characterize the then-unnamed SUMC as an offshoot of Marvel Studios’ 10-year-running shared universe, Feige told AlloCine there is “no plan” for Venom in the MCU, noting the Hardy-led movie is “a Sony project.”

Pascal later clarified her comments when speaking to ComicBook.com during the Spider-Man: Homecoming press tour, explaining “all these characters are a part of the Marvel comic book universe.”

“In that universe, they are all related to each other. Kevin makes characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” she said. “These characters are separate, except for Spidey, who belongs in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is why he's there.”

Asked if that rules out a future Spider-Man and Venom crossover, Feige said, “We never say never,” with the addendum that a merger doesn’t seem to be in the cards “any time soon.”

More recently, Venom producer Matt Tolmach said the intention was to make a standalone solo highlighting the famed villain-slash-anti-hero before later exploring future avenues for potential crossovers.

“The obvious thing that we are all excited to do is have Venom face off against Spider-Man at some point... we knew we couldn’t use Spider-Man in this movie or didn’t want to use him in this movie,” he told LRM. “But we were all really excited about the potential for Spider-Man and Venom at some point in the future meeting up.”

There have long been suspicions Sony would use Venom as a sort of backdoor pilot that could later be hitched to the MCU, but the sudden discovery of aliens precludes any attempts to retroactively retcon it into sharing the same universe where Holland’s Spider-Man exists.

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The worry then becomes what happens when Holland’s contractual duties expire: the star is signed to a six-movie deal under Sony, who ultimately control the stewardship of the character. That deal enlists Holland for three Marvel movies — Captain America: Civil War, Infinity War, and Avengers 4 — and three Spider-Man solos, meaning his contract will be up for renegotiation after whatever follows Spider-Man: Far From Home.

Once its pact with Marvel Studios expires, Sony could, in theory, pluck Spider-Man out of the MCU and plop him into the SUMC — allowing the character to co-exist with Venom, who already proved a winner at the box office despite lacking any connection to Spidey or the MCU.

Venom is now playing in theaters.