Marvel Purchased The Idea For Spider-Man’s Best Villain From A Reader For $220
The idea for the Spider-Man villain Venom came from an anonymous fan who was paid $220.
Spider-Man is hands down one of the best superheroes ever to come out of Stan Lee’s creative imagination. Not only is the every-man hero kind and genuine, but he was the spearhead of a major paradigm shift in the way that superheroes were portrayed, not just in Marvel but in all comics. But while Lee may have been the creator of Peter Parker, it was an anonymous fan who came up with the idea of Spidey’s black suit that would eventually become the villain Venom.
The once-anonymous Randy Schueller finally came out of the Marvel contribution closet in 2007, around the time when Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man 3 was released, courtesy of CBR. Finally ready to disclose who the mastermind behind Spider-Man’s black suit really was, Schueller wrote in to CBR to tell his story of how he came up with what would become an iconic superhero fit and Marvel villain.
As the story goes, in the 1980s, Marvel was running a competition for aspiring comic book writers and artists, and Schueller decided to send in his entry. His original idea was very different from the alien symbiote that Venom would eventually become. Schueller came up with the idea that Spider-Man would need to upgrade his powers and his suit and would turn to the Fantastic Four’s Reed Richards for assistance.
In Schueller’s comic, Richards used the unstable molecules that are in the Fantastic Four’s suits to design Spider-Man’s new fit, and the costume was designed by Janet Van Dyne, aka the Wasp. The purpose of making the suit out of the unstable molecules was so that they would flow through Peter Parker’s skin and increase his powers by 25 percent. Schueller designed the suit as jet black so Spidey could hide better in the shadows, and it had a blood-red spider on the chest instead of the white spider seen in the movies.
Additionally, Schueller also came up with the idea of infusing Stark Tech into Spider-Man’s suit long before Tom Holland started working the Iron Spidey suit for the films. It was also 25 years before Peter Parker started wearing the Iron suit in the comics during “Civil War.” Per Schueller’s imagination, Peter only had to think about the kind of web he wanted, and the suit would then spit it out for him.
It didn’t take long after Schueller submitted his Spider-Man idea that he received an official letter from Marvel editor Jim Shooter, claiming that the comic book brand liked Schueller’s story and wanted to purchase it from him for $220 (worth about $685.85 today). Shooter also offered Schueller a shot at writing the story himself. Schueller sent in a few drafts of the Spider-Man black suit story and even had a phone call with another Marvel writer and editor, Tom DeFalco, but eventually, Schueller decided that comic book writing wasn’t for him, and the project dropped off.
After that, Schueller watched as his Spider-Man costume idea evolved over the years, making its first debut in “Secret Wars.” Then, the costume made its movie debut in 2007 with Spider-Man 3 and was reimagined again in the 2018 movie, Venom, starring Tom Hardy. And, while the costume developed to be something completely different than what Schueller imagined, its original creator (and OG Spidey fan) can live life with pride, knowing that it was his idea that spurred the creation of one of the most iconic outfits and villains in the entire Marvel universe.