The first trailer for Venom: The Last Dance has finally been released – and, just like every one of Sony’s Spider-Man spin-off films, fans aren’t quite sure what to make of it.

Revealed yesterday (June 3), the chaotic, three-minute-plus trailer is packed to the rafters with Spider-Man and wider Marvel references. Admittedly, the former isn’t a great surprise – Venom 3 is part of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe (SSU), so webslinger-based Easter eggs and callbacks are to be expected. What’s stranger, though, are the references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and previous Spider-Man movie eras that suggest we’ll see some multiversal shenanigans in the threequel.

Before I dig into the minutiae at the heart of Venom 3‘s first trailer, here’s a brief plot synopsis for Tom Hardy’s final outing as Eddie Brock and his anti-heroic symbiote friend: “In Venom: The Last Dance, Hardy returns as Venom, one of Marvel’s greatest and most complex characters, for the final film in the trilogy. Eddie and Venom are on the run. Hunted by both of their worlds and with the net closing in, the duo are forced into a devastating decision that will bring the curtains down on Venom and Eddie’s last dance.”

Hardy co-penned Venom 3’s script with Kelly Marcel, who is also on directing duties for this one. Ted Lasso alumnus Juno Temple, Doctor Strange star Chiwetel Ejiofor, Boiling Point‘s Stephen Graham, and Legally Blonde actor Alanna Ubach join Hardy on the cast roster. Peggy Lu, who’s featured as Mrs Chen in the previous two Venom films, is also back.

Okay, so why is Venom 3‘s first teaser baffling viewers? The problem appears to be a three-fold one, starting with…

1. Is Doctor Strange’s Mordo in Venom: The Last Dance?

Orwell Taylor glances down at someone in Venom: The Last Dance

No, that’s not Baron Karl Mordo in Venom 3. (Image credit: Sony Pictures/Marvel Entertainment)

In short: no. Yes, Ejiofor, who played Baron Karl Mordo in 2016’s Doctor Strange (find out where it ranks in our best Marvel movies guide) is in Venom 3, but he’s not playing one of the most notable members of the Sorcerer Supreme’s rogues gallery. Instead, he’s playing a character named Orwell Taylor, a military official who’s become obsessed with capturing Eddie and Venom.

The Last Dance‘s trailer shows that he’s working alongside Temple’s character – Doctor Payne – to conduct experiments on other symbiotes (more on one of these shortly). If the Venom symbiote is the only sentient, goo-based extraterrestrial that continues to evade the pair, it’s clear why they’ll be hunting down Brock and his bosom buddy in Venom 3.

2. Who is Toxin? And is it Venom 3’s main villain?

A close up of Stephen Graham's Patrick Mulligan in a cell in Venom 3

Patrick Mulligan is back, and he’s bringing his own symbiote with him. (Image credit: Sony Pictures/Marvel Entertainment)

Toxin is another symbiote that attached itself to Graham’s Detective Patrick Mulligan in 2021’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage. In the comics, Toxin is depicted as the offspring of Carnage, another alien symbiote. Carnage was, as the second film’s title confirms, the primary antagonist of Venom 2.

Considering that Eddie and Venom killed Carnage in Let There Be Carnage, it’s possible that Toxin (and Mulligan by proxy) will be gunning for the duo in The Last Dance. Even if they are, I wouldn’t Toxin to be the film’s major villain. Indeed, I expect Mulligan and his symbiote to be its secondary antagonist, and that’s because…

3. What are the other symbiotes? And who is Xenophage?

Xenophage lunges at Venom/Eddie with its mouth open in Venom: The Last Dance

Things don’t look good for Eddie and Venom here… (Image credit: Sony Pictures/Marvel Entertainment)

There’s no word on which other symbiotes might show up in Venom 3 (outside of the unnamed ones we see in Taylor and Payne’s possession), but we know that they’ll be in as much danger as Eddie and Venom are. And no, I’m not talking about the fact that the latter pair are being hunted by Taylor and Payne.

So, who – or what – will be hunting them? By the looks of it, Xenophage, the other monstrous entity that we see in The Last Dance‘s trailer. It’s the alien leviathan that we see Venom grappling with on an airliner towards the end of said teaser.

For the uninitiated: Xenophage is part of an alien race that feeds on symbiotes. In the comics, they have the ability to shapeshift, which means they might be able to blend into their surroundings on Earth. And I say “they”, because it seems there will be more than one member of Xenophage’s race traveling to our world to seek out Venom and other symbiotes – we catch them entering Earth’s atmosphere around the trailer’s midpoint.

But I digress. Xenophage and its fellow extraterrestrials also come equipped with paralytic saliva, which can paralyze symbiotes and makes them easier to feast on. If – and it’s a big if – this is Xenophage, it seems as though Eddie and Venom will have more life-threatening things to deal with than the US military.

4. MCU ties and the return of an Amazing Spider-Man villain

Rhys Ifans' unnamed character strums a guitar in a camper van in Venom: The Last Dance

Wait, that’s not Doctor Kurt Connors, is it? (Image credit: Sony Pictures/Marvel Entertainment)

Ejiofor’s appearance in Venom 3 isn’t the only confusing part of Venom 3‘s first teaser. For a brief second, we see Ejiofor’s Taylor standing alongside the bartender played by Cristo Fernandez (another Ted Lasso alum), who made a brief cameo in 2021’s Spider-Man: No Way Home. He’s the barkeep who served a drink to Eddie when the latter was temporarily pulled into the MCU at the end of Venom 2.

The revelation that Fernandez’s bartender (who exists in the MCU) is in The Last Dance, then, indicates that Venom 3 will have some multiversal ties to Marvel’s cinematic juggernaut. It’s unclear how Taylor will traverse the multiverse to meet with Fernandez (and capture the tiny symbiote that Eddie/Venom left behind in the MCU during No Way Home‘s post-credits scene), so we’ll have to wait for the film to land in theaters to learn more.

Venom 3 won’t just have multiversal links to the MCU, though. In the trailer’s latter half we catch a brief glimpse of what appears to be Rhys Ifans’ Doctor Kurt Connors. His supervillain alias – The Lizard – was the main antagonist in 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man, which starred Andrew Garfield as the titular hero. The Lizard also featured in No Way Home.

Now, we don’t see The Lizard in Venom: The Last Dance‘s trailer, but the fact that Ifans – who viewers have recently seen in House of the Dragon – shows up suggests that Connors is part of proceedings. After all, it would be awfully confusing if Ifans has been hired to play someone else, and Sony has form for bringing MCU Spider-Man villains into the SSU – just look at The Vulture bizarrely showing up in 2022’s Morbius for proof of that.

With Venom: The Last Dance not set to land in cinemas until October 25, it’ll be a while before we get explanations for any (or all) of the above. In the meantime, find out how to watch the Spider-Man movies in order (most are on Disney Plus and/or Netflix wherever you are in the world), or learn more about Spider-Man 4‘s development via our Marvel Phase 5 guide.

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