Insomniac’s Spider-Man 2 game made a brief appearance at Summer Game Fest 2023, where we learned two important details about the long-awaited sequel. It’s hitting stores in October, and the version of Venom featured in the game isn’t Eddie Brock. In fact, Insomniac is setting out to introduce a version of Venom very different from what fans have seen before in the comics, shows and movies.
But if Venom isn’t Eddie Brock, then who is bonded to the symbiote this time around? What possibilities are there that don’t follow the same path as Venom stories of the past? Let’s break down a few theories and potential options based on the direction of the Insomniac series so far.
At this point in Insomniac’s Spider-Man series, all signs point to Peter Parker’s childhood friend Harry Osborn becoming the Venom of this universe. One of the quest lines in the first game establishes that Harry has become terminally ill with Oshtoran Syndrome, the same disease that killed his mother. Harry’s father, the former mayor Norman Osborn, has devoted his wealth and resources to finding a cure. That includes attempting to harness the power of Devil’s Breath.
Both the previous games include post-credits scenes hinting that the disgraced Norman has now turned to the Venom symbiote for the answer to save his son. Spider-Man ends with a scene of Norman approaching Harry’s stasis tank and interacting with a black tendril. Miles Morales: Spider-Man features a similar scene where Harry awakens and Norman orders a reluctant Dr. Curt Connors to unlock Harry’s stasis tube.
The implication certainly seems to be that Harry will become Venom in Spider-Man 2. Perhaps the game is leaning more on Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man comics, which depict the black costume as a medical device gone amok rather than an alien symbiote. If the game is anything like those comics, then Harry has been driven mad by his bond with this powerful suit, forcing Peter and Miles to team up against New York’s latest supervillain.
It is worth pointing out that the idea of Harry becoming Venom isn’t completely new. The animated series Ultimate Spider-Man also depicted Harry as Venom’s host in its early seasons. If Insomniac is trying to truly differentiate this Venom from previous incarnations, that could rule out Harry. Still, if the symbiote shoe fits…
Insomniac’s Spider-Man universe features a version of Peter Parker who’s been active as Spidey for a number of years. However, in all that time he’s never faced off with arguably his greatest foe – Green Goblin. Up until the end of the first game, Norman Osborn is still a respected businessman and politician, and he clearly hasn’t succumbed to madness and become the Green Goblin yet.
Maybe that’s because Norman is destined for a slightly different fate in the Insomniac universe. What if he becomes Venom himself? Maybe Spider-Man 2 is combining two of the greatest Spidey villains into one.
If this is the direction the game is headed, then perhaps Norman is finally given that final push into insanity by the death of his son. Perhaps the Venom suit fails to keep Harry alive, or maybe he dies during the time Peter is bonded with the suit. At that point, Norman might turn it into a weapon to take out his grief and rage on the two Spider-Men. That’s certainly one way to establish a personal grudge between Venom and Spidey.
Peter Parker or Miles Morales
One way to completely subvert fan expectations in Spider-Man 2 would be to make Peter or Miles become Venom themselves. As it is, we know Peter will wear the symbiote costume for at least part of the game, and it brings out his anger and aggression in the process. Traditionally, Peter is able to break free from the symbiote’s influence and reject the suit before it consumes him, leaving its next host to become Venom instead. But what if this universe avoids that trend by having Peter fail to overcome the suit’s corruptive influence?
Another possibility is that Peter rejects the suit at a key point in the game, causing it to choose Miles instead. Perhaps the suit preys on Miles’ inner pain and anguish over losing his father and the other tragedies he’s endured in the previous two games. We’re getting a taste of Peter’s dark side in the footage revealed so far. What about Miles?
The main problem with this theory is that making Peter or Miles into Venom removes one of the core selling points of the game – the idea that you take control of both Spider-Men. Would players accept being limited to one or the other at a certain point in the story mode? On the other hand, it would be very interesting if Spider-Man 2 gives players a choice in which hero falls and becomes Venom, allowing for two completely different outcomes and two different endings.
Spider-Man: Miles Morales focuses a lot on the bond between Miles and his BFF/superhero assistant Ganke. Ganke is there throughout the game to provide some much-needed banter, long-distance tech support and useful advice. He’s a character you can’t help but love. So what better way to turn the screws on players than by turning Ganke into Venom?
Based on the footage we’ve seen so far, it seems that Ganke will initially start out by serving a similar role in the new game. But who’s to say that won’t change over time? Once Peter rejects the symbiote, maybe it finds a home with Miles’ best friend. We’ve seen in the past how Peter struggles and sometimes fails to prevent his life as Spider-Man from bringing harm to those he loves. Transforming Ganke into Venom is a way of bringing the true cost of Spider-Man home for Miles.
Mary Jane Watson
The Insomniac games have made a concerted effort to veer in a very different direction where Mary Jane Watson is concerned. Unlike the comics, this MJ isn’t a supermodel or damsel in distress, but a crusading reporter who often willingly throws herself in harm’s way. But where the games do stick to the source material is in depicting MJ as someone Peter cares for very deeply, even if his superhero lifestyle drives a wedge between them.
Spider-Man 2 could easily throw players for a loop by having Mary Jane be the one who transforms into Venom. Granted, the artwork revealed at Summer Game Fest seems to depict a male villain, but who’s to say a woman couldn’t be lurking beneath all those muscles and tendrils? It would be a way of throwing another tragic wrench in the works of Peter and MJ’s relationship without simply killing her off, Gwen Stacy-style.
Alongside Venom and Lizard, we know Kraven the Hunter will be one of the main villains of Spider-Man 2. As the recent cinematic trailer reveals, Kraven has grown bored hunting others in his private jungle retreat. He craves a real hunt, and he’s found it in the various costumed superheroes and metahumans of New York City.
But while Kraven is clearly a dangerous opponent, it’s fair to wonder if he really has what it takes to stand against two united Spider-Men. He’s a character with little in the way of super-powers himself, just mystical potions and a real knack for stalking his prey.
Fans are wondering how the game’s Kraven storyline will ultimately intersect with the Venom storyline. What if Kraven and Venom turn out to be one and the same? The idea is that Kraven is soundly defeated in his attempt to take down the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Men, causing him to resort to desperate measures and bond with the Venom symbiote. At that point, he absorbs his enemy’s power into himself and becomes a true threat to Peter and Miles. Maybe this version of Venom is the ultimate hunter.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.