By now, word has gone out that British actor Tom Hardy, who has established his chops on superhero films as the sinister Bane in Warner Brothers’ “The Dark Knight Rises,” is set to portray the dark anti-heroic character Venom, the alternating foe and reluctant ally of Spider-Man.

Now the Marvel Cinematic Studio film “Spider-Man: Homecoming” is due for July. However, Sony, who has film rights for Spider-Man but had made an arrangement with Disney/Marvel Studios for shared use of the character, is set on creating a spin-off movie with Venom. Their plan is to expand this film into a separate cinematic universe that is divorced from the MCU proper.

Sony Marvel Universe

When Sony/Columbia Pictures announced May 20 the casting of Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock/the titular “Venom” in their upcoming movie, they used the phrase “Sony Marvel Universe.”

This is interesting because it implies that the Venom spinoff, along with further films based on Spider-Man affiliated Marvel Comics characters such as Black Cat and Silver Sable, will altogether comprise a new cinematic universe all on its own, with little to no involvement from the rest of the MCU where Spider-Man has already appeared as of “Captain America: Civil War” back in 2016.

This arrangement came about as a result of some reworking of the rights relationship between Marvel Entertainment (along with its parent Disney) and Sony, which still holds the rights to make movies of Spider-Man.

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The terms are: the two studios will work together where the wall-crawling hero is involved; if the film has Spider-Man in the lead role like the upcoming “Homecoming,” Sony profits instead of Disney/Marvel. If Spider-Man is merely a supporting role like back in “Civil War” and for 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” then Marvel profits.

In accordance with this, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige has noted that any Marvel film outside of Spider-Man that Sony makes are their own concern. This means that for all intents and purposes Sony’s “Venom” will have nothing to do with the MCU.

More questions

The big question hanging over everyone’s heads at the moment regarding “Venom” is whether or not Spider-Man will even show up in the film. What’s more, if he did appear, it wasn’t even certain if he will be portrayed by Tom Hardy’s fellow Brit Tom Holland, who plays him in the MCU proper.

There isn’t any further information about that. Still, it’s a sure bet that when “Venom” comes out, his character can reprise in the next film with Black Cat and Silver Sable, as the Sony Marvel Universe gets underway. No word yet on when “Venom” will start shooting.