The time has finally come. Summer Game Fest 2023 brought us more information on the highly anticipated Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 from Insomniac Games. In addition to the game’s official box art and release date (October 20th, 2023), we got our first full look at Venom, the iconic Spidey villain who will be making his PlayStation 5 debut.
Who Could Venom Be in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2?
The most noteworthy thing about Venom is that it’s been confirmed he is NOT Eddie Brock. And given Insomniac’s willingness to subvert expectations story-wise (hi, Aunt May), the conversation around the identity of the Lethal Protector has lit up.
Judging by the events of Insomniac’s first Spider-Man game, the most obvious choice would be Peter Parker’s best friend, Harry Osborn. Harry is very much absent from the first game until the end credits, where it’s revealed that he’s recovering from an illness in a tank. Surrounding and supporting him is the Venom Symbiote. At the end of the Miles Morales spin-off, Harry wakes up and his father, Norman Osborn, demands that he be released from the tank. This leads me to my personal prediction on who Venom actually is: Norman Osborn.
Learning From the Past
Remember 2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight? Specifically, how anyone with any knowledge of Batman immediately knew the Arkham Knight was actually the Red Hood? And, of course, remember how vehement Rocksteady was that the Arkham Knight was a totally new character created for this game? (OK, that’s only 1% unfair because technically the Arkham Knight IS a new character. But come on, now.)
The point is, the Arkham Knight totally turned out to be the Red Hood, and we all felt let down as a result because of course he was; it was the most logical and obvious play. Rocksteady playing in our faces about it just made it worse.
I don’t believe Insomniac would make the same mistake here, as the denial of Eddie Brock feels genuine and intentional. While they are heavily hinting at Venom being Harry in-universe, I think that choice is too on the nose and doesn’t really make sense given what we know about Venom.
We Are Hungry
The fact is, the Venom Symbiote is a creature with a mind of its own. It has thoughts and feelings. It hungers and has intentions. And when it finds someone who shares its mindset, it latches on.
How Norman has harnessed the Symbiote in the Insomniac universe has yet to be explained, but Harry’s sick; he has no negative feelings toward anyone that we know of. What we do know based on the gameplay footage from Sony’s 2023 PlayStation Showcase is that Peter DOES. He is furious with Kraven for going after Dr. Curt Connors AKA The Lizard.
What if Spider-Man finds himself bonding with the Symbiote after finding out Kraven is after Connors? After all, Connors was directly involved with the upkeep of Harry and the tank. What if Norman finds out Spidey was there and Harry actually dies because the Symbiote is gone? Norman now has a real reason to hate Spider-Man.
We all know that Spidey eventually rejects the Symbiote. Latching on to Norman from there would create the Venom we need for the game.
It’s Not Easy Being Green
I know, I know. There were hints of Goblin Tech throughout Norman’s apartment, so why would he be Venom when he’s so obviously the Green Goblin? Because we need a third game—that’s why.
In this scenario, Norman’s son dies (indirectly) at the hands of Spider-Man. That hatred isn’t going away. Peter and Miles beat him as Venom, but he’s just gonna come back, and in a hypothetical third game, he’d be coming back HIS way as the Green Goblin.
Now, the stakes are at their highest. Norman is no longer brute forcing his way to revenge through Venom but has retained the information he’s learned from Venom’s time with Peter. He’ll know who Peter really is, his hatred will multiply, and things will get personal. He’ll enact a series of mind games and attacks on those Peter cares about to exact his revenge.
The Waiting Game
There’s no way of knowing who Venom is in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 until the game comes out. But fan theories are fun, and this has been pounding the inside of my brain since Sony’s show.
In my view, this is an interesting turn Insomniac can take—one that continues the studio’s respect for the source material while staying true to the style of emotional storytelling the team struck with the first game. Regardless of what comes to pass, October 20 can’t come fast enough.