In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, the creative director on Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 revealed that he was nervous about finding the right person to play the sequel’s notorious big bad, Venom. That is, until he heard the unmistakably awesome voice of Candyman actor Tony Todd.
Speaking with EW, Insomniac Games’ Bryan Intihaar disclosed that deciding on the right voice actor for Venom was “one of the things I was avoiding for as long as possible because I was so scared of who we were going to get to do the voice.” Although Insomniac’s previous Spider-Games, Marvel’s Spider-Man and Spider-Man: Miles Morales, garnered high praise from critics as some of the best iterations of the web-slingers, Intihaar said pressure was on to cast the perfect Venom because “people would have a lot of opinions on it.” But Todd, he says, was up to the task.
“Everything we talked about [with] Venom — that sense of strength, that sense of fear, that sense of overwhelming, so different from Peter — Tony embraces that completely in the performance,” Intihar told EW.
After hearing the booming voice of Tony Todd in the trailer for 2021’s Candyman (in which Todd reprises his role as the title character of the 1992 original), all Intihar’s fears went away. Luckily for Insomniac, Todd had already submitted an audition for the role of Venom.
As Intihar has noted in previous interviews, the tone of Insomniac Games’ take on the iconic Spider-Man villain will be darker than some other depictions, treating Peter’s struggles with the symbiote as akin to battling an addiction.
“We wanted to try something very different, and I don’t think you can get much more different from Doc Ock than you do Venom,” Intihar said. “It’s about power, it’s about strength, it’s about being slighted, it’s about Peter being involved much more in the creation of Venom. I think that’s what attracted us.”
Narrative director Jon Paquette echoed Intihar’s sentiments, saying Parker’s internal struggle with Venom impacts those closest to him, adding that “there’s a lot of juicy drama that we can get from that.”
“For us, Venom is the host plus the symbiote,” Intihar said. “You don’t get Venom without both of them being bonded together. What Tony represents is that bond. I think, if anything, casting Tony made us feel more confident in the visual design of the character.”
Insomniac Games gave fans an exclusive look at Venom’s design in EW’s article, revealing the space-faring symbiote’s numerous teeth and imposing ink-black physique as he roars in the center of a city block surrounded by Humvees. While drafting early concept art for Venom, senior art director Jacinda Chew revealed that the trickiest design components involved his freakish monster mouth.
“One of the challenges we had throughout production was, how much does [Venom] talk?” she says. “I remember we did some concepts early on [of] does Venom have lips? Does he laugh? Does he smile? Does he frown? It’s a fine line between making this creature scary and intimidating, but then also, I guess, relatable.”
For all the monster-fuckers out there who fell to their collective knees at Tom Hardy’s Venom having a gaping maw, I hope Spider-Man 2 throws them a bone. Perhaps it could offer up a tiny crumb of the anti-hero’s silly side by having him give Parker and Miles Morales a shit-eating grin before their inevitable two-on-one brawl.
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 releases on October 20 for PlayStation 5.