Rogue One's Riz Ahmed poised to join Tom Hardy in Sony's Venom film

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Even as Spider-Man: Homecoming continues its run as one of the summer's biggest films, Sony Pictures is at work on a Spidey-adjacent cinematic universe seemingly unconnected to Tom Holland's webslinger. The centerpeice of this endeavor so far is Venom, which landed a release date earlier this year, and secured Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road) to play the title role. Now, another major star is reportedly on board.

Variety reported late Wednesday that Riz Ahmed (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, The Night Of) is in "early talks" to join the film. And while his role isn't clear yet, sources say he'll be "a popular Marvel Comics character."

Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) has been tapped to direct the film, from a script by Scott Rosenberg (Jumanji) and Jeff Pinkner (The Dark Tower). Though there has been some confusion as to what relationship the film will have to Homecoming, and by extension the Marvel Cinematic Universe, producer Amy Pascal recently clarified that Venom (and fellow spinoff Silver and Black) are not directly connected to the MCU or the current incarnation of Spider-Man. That gives the Venom film freedom to tell an intriguing antihero story, and to cast things however it likes.

As for who Ahmed will play, "popular Marvel Comics character" is a very broad term, even if you're just narrowing things down to Spider-Man and his various friends and enemies. Here's an interesting thought, though: back in June it was reported that Carnage will be the film's villain, setting up a Symbiote vs Symbiote showdown with Hardy on one end of that fight. Though he certainly doesn't look like the original Carnage, Cletus Kasady, wouldn't it be interesting to see Ahmed on the other side of that battle?

That is pure speculation, of course, and there are dozens of other characters Ahmed could play, but he's a rising star with plenty of franchise potential, and tapping him for a villainous role would be an unexpected but intriguing choice. Then again, there are still endless other possibilities.

What do you think? Who would you like to see Ahmed play?

Venom hits theaters Oct. 5, 2018.

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