New 'Spidey 3' Image Has Fans Tingling About Venom

Picture could confirm Topher Grace's supposed role as supervillain.

With production finally under way on "Spider-Man 3," the web of rumors and gossip that has tied up message boards for months is finally beginning to unravel. Now, with the official release of a new image, Spidey fan senses are tingling over expectations of a story line as complicated as it is black-and-white.

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"Spider-Man Is Wearing a Black Suit!" screams the Daily Bugle headline that was recently leaked quietly on Sony's official "Spider-Man 3" Web site. It's accompanied by an enormous photo of the blockbuster movie character perched atop a building ledge, looking downward in an apparently grim state of reflection. The page is notable for far greater reasons than J. Jonah Jameson giving better placement to Spidey's new threads than to a high school basketball game. Indeed, in the eyes of diehard fans, the release of this picture may confirm the third film's Venom story line, which has been the subject of heavy speculation.

For the benefit of those who don't sleep on Doctor Octopus bedsheets, Venom is the name of the deadly quasi-alien creature who has been menacing the comic-book version of Spider-Man for nearly 20 years. Originally a costume discovered on an alien planet during the spin-off series "Secret Wars," the suit eventually revealed itself as a sentient Symbiote attempting to permanently fuse with Peter Parker's body. Once the costume was removed, it attached itself to fellow Bugle reporter Eddie Brock, making him one of the webslinger's most feared supervillains.

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Since his casting last year, rumors have circulated that Topher Grace will take on the Venom role opposite the similarly built (and named) Tobey Maguire (see "Topher Grace Joins Cast Of 'Spider-Man 3' ... But As Who?"). Although the complicated details of the acquisition of the suit and Eddie Brock's fall from grace are expected to be largely abridged for the film, fans continue to speculate that the black-suited menace will appear alongside Thomas Haden Church's Sandman and James Franco's Green Goblin (see "Will Harry Turn To The Dark Side In 'Spidey 3'? James Franco Offers Clues") as a trio of film villains. The film has already been slated for a May 4, 2007, release date.

Although many fan circles would undoubtedly be pleased by a cinematic Venom, the new image is already raising as many questions as it answers. If it is Venom, fans are asking, where are the white rings around the eyes and the slick spider logo on the chest? If the film does plan to avoid the complicated planet-hopping story line of "Secret Wars," how can it do justice to the unearthly creature? Finally, with Maguire facing his first fully-suited adversary, will director Sam Raimi give in to his "Evil Dead" tendencies and go wild with a computer-generated character? To paraphrase "Spider-Man" co-creator Stan Lee: Stay tuned, true believers.

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