Note: Contains spoilers for Venom
Sony Pictures' Venom occupies a strange place in the world of superhero films. While its star is a Spider-Man villain, Peter Parker's superheroic alter ego does not star in the movie. And while Tom Holland's version of Spider-Man is part of Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe, we were told that Venom would not be related to the world of the Avengers and their allies.
That's easy for Sony and Disney execs to say during the development of the movie, but does Venom have any sneaky (or not so sneaky) nods to the existence of Spider-Man and the MCU?
We'll start with the second first. As far as can be told by watching the movie, Venom exists in a continuity separate from the MCU. Marvel's other superheroes are not mentioned, nor is there any indication that other superpowered beings exist alongside Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock.
Technically, there's also nothing overt to prevent it from coexisting with the Avengers, etc (apart from Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige standing on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm shouting, "You shall not pass!"), but no, there are no Easter eggs or other cheeky nods to it that we noticed.
Spider-Man is a slightly more complicated matter. Contrary to rumours, Tom Holland does not make any appearance in Venom, and the film no more mentions him than it does the rest of the MCU.
However, the second post-credits scene is a preview of Sony's upcoming animated movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which stars not Holland's Spidey but Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore), an alternate-reality version of Spider-Man.
The clip kicks off with the caption, "Meanwhile, in another universe," before showing a scene in which Miles encounters an adult version of Peter Parker (voiced by Jake Johnson) from another universe. The movie centres around Spider-People drawn from different realities for a team-up adventure.
While this clip is essentially disconnected from the rest of the film, it does hint that Venom might be part of the larger Spider-Verse. Could later films connect Hardy's hero to these other versions of Spider-Man in some way?
That will surely depend on the success of the first of Sony's Spider-Man-related movies, and the direction that they decide to take prospective future films in. But considering that the best bits of Hardy's movie are a sort of buddy comedy, he might be a better fit for a fun team-up than we expected.
Venom is out now in the UK and will be released in the US on October 5. Book tickets here.