In what is perhaps one of the most surprising but equally exciting announcements of the year, Sony Pictures (via their official Twitter) have this weekend made a huge step forward in their long-mooted Venom film with the news that a star and director have been found for the project.

Tom Hardy has been signed to star as the titular character, aka Eddie Brock, and returns to the world of comic-book villainy after his role in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises as the equally-bulky bad guy Bane. Hardy, who was also set to play Rick Flagg in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad before he had to pull out due to schedule conflicts with The Revenant, had been looking to re-enter the world of superheroes for a while now.

Tom Hardy - Venom / Spider-Man

Joining him on the project is director Ruben Fleischer, the filmmaker behind such films as Zombieland and Gangster Squad, with filming set to begin later this year. Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, who have been involved in many of the Sony/Spider-Man films since 2002, are producing along with Amy Pascal, former Head of Sony. Scott Rosenberg (Pain & Gain) & Jeff Pinkner (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) are writing the script.

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The film has been in development for a few years now – some fan theories had speculated that this year’s Life, from the writers of Deadpool Rhett Rheese and Paul Wernick, was something of a prequel for this film but those rumours have since been debunked.

What we do now know is that this film will be part of an expanded Sony/Marvel cinematic universe and could possibly crossover with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, who makes his solo debut in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. In addition, Hardy will be playing Eddie Brock in the film (which, incidentally will be R-rated) – who first appeared on the big-screen in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 back in 2007 when Topher Grace played the character.

Venom is set for release on October 5th, 2018.