There are a lot of big superhero movies this year, but one of the strangest is Venom: not only does it take a classic comic villain as its (anti)hero, but it's also Sony's first movie set in the Spider-Man universe that won't actually feature Spider-Man.

We've rounded up everything we know about the film, so read on to find out the latest and watch the film's trailers.

When is the Venom release date?

Venom is out now in both the UK and US. If you're in the UK you can book tickets through the likes of Vue, Cineworld, or Odeon, while if you're in the US Fandango is your best bet.

Watch the trailers

Sony has released one teaser and two full trailers for Venom, each revealing a little more than the last about what to expect from the film. First up, here's the teaser, but we're going to warn you in advance: it's a real tease of a teaser, and doesn't actually feature any, y'know, Venom.

Thankfully the first full trailer gave us a bit more of the good stuff, showing off a few of Venom's powers and our first look at the full... suit? Costume? Symbiote? Whatever it is.

And finally here's trailer two, which shows a lot more of the full Venom look, along with a couple of other symbiotes that Venom is going to end up fighting over the course of the film:

Check out the posters and stills

Right now we have three official western posters for Venom, along with one unsurprisingly rad option from Japan. Check them all out in the slideshow here:

Venom posters

There aren't many official stills from the movie, but there are some decent quality shots from the latest trailer which give you a good look at some of the biggest moments in the film:

Venom stills

Who's in the cast?

In case you haven't guessed already, the star of the show here is Tom Hardy, who plays Eddie Brock, a journalist who is accidentally exposed to an aggressive alien symbiote which turns him into the ultra-violent Venom.

Hardy is a reassuringly capable actor, and he's backed by an equally strong supporting cast. Michelle Williams is Anne Weying, the requisite love interest, while The Night Of's Riz Ahmed will play Cartlon Drake, the villain of the piece, backed up by Michelle Lee as another symbiotic baddie.

Woody Harrelson is also appearing in what's reportedly a small part - though read on below for our speculation on exactly who he's playing.

Who are the writers and director?

Venom is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who you probably best know for Zombieland (and it's upcoming sequel), though he's also directed 30 Minutes or Less and Gangster Squad, along with a lot of TV work.

As for the script, that's credited to four writers: Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner, Kelly Marcel, and Will Beall, who have a pretty diverse set of writing credits between them, including a few other superhero movies.

What's the plot?

Between the three trailers and our knowledge Venom (and Spider-Man) lore we can glean a fair bit about what to expect. It looks like as per usual, the Venom symbiote is going to be discovered out in space and brought to Earth - in this case by Riz Ahmed's Dr. Drake and his Life Foundation.

He uses the symbiote to experiment on people, trying to create the next step in human evolution, and Hardy's Eddie Brock - an investigative journalist - is going to get caught up in it all when he pushes his investigation a little too far. Cue horrible experiments, gruesome superpowers, and a fight against Drake.

From the most recent trailer we can tell that Venom won't be the only symbiote in town - he needs someone to fight after all. Not only is Drake going to become the giant symbiote Riot, but Michelle Lee's character also looks to get some powers, likely as the comic's Scream. 

Thanks to Woody Harrelson teasing that he has a small role but will definitely be back for the (potential) sequel, it's fairly likely that he's playing the serial killer Cletus Kasady, and will return in the possible Venom 2 as the fearsome Carnage, the closest thing Venom has to an arch-nemesis other than Spider-Man.

Speaking of, we're not expecting Spidey himself to make any sort of appearance here. Although the Venom movie is being produced by Sony, which has the rights to Spider-Man, the deal it made with Marvel to include Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the main Marvel movies probably means that he can't appear here. No doubt that's part of why Venom has been relocated to San Francisco - conveniently far enough away to explain why Spider-Man isn't here in case the company finds a way to bring him back in for future movies.

It sounds like that's the plan, too. Reportedly Sony is very keen on keeping the door open for a Spidey sequel - so much so that they've kept Venom to a PG-13 rating in the US (the rough equivalent of a UK 12A), despite the recent success of R-rated comic book films like Logan and Deadpool, purely to keep the option of pitting Venom against Spider-Man down the line.

Director Ruben Fleischer says that was always the plan though. "I don’t feel like we compromise much,” Fleischer told  Polygon of the lower rating adding that there'd never been any indication the film was aiming for an R. “I’m not sure why [people thought that], other than maybe just a bloodthirst for Venom.”

He compared Venom to The Dark Knight, a PG-13 film that nonetheless maintained a dark, violent tone by shooting cleverly to work around MPAA guidelines, something he's aimed to do by filming the most violent scenes in several different ways. That's all with the aim of reaching as many Venom fans as possible.

"We didn’t want to make a movie that excluded any fans,” he said. “Venom fans actually are of all ages, and so we wanted to be inclusive to all the fans that were excited about the movie.”