Jeremy enjoys reviewing cinema and television when not working as a chemist.
What Are Symbiotes in Marvel?
With the success of the Venom film (which grossed 200 million), symbiotes are more prominent in Marvel than ever. Mostly associated with Spider-Man stories, these alien life forms who bond with hosts to form a dual individual with two minds and incredible powers, often including super-strength, durability, and shapeshifting.
However, many (but not all) symbiotes increase the aggression of their wielder, and symbiotic hosts range from heroic to villainous—you never quite know what side Venom will fight for. We've encountered dozens of alien partners throughout Marvel's long history, but which parasites reign supreme? These are the ten strongest symbiotes in Marvel Comics!
Hosts: Eddie Brock, Flash Thompson, Peter Parker, Mac Gargan
The alien who Spider-Man ultimately rejects eventually finds his way to Eddie Brock, becoming the infamous Venom. Venom's powers fluctuate between appearances, but he's usually stronger than the wallcrawler, can mimic his webs, and can alter his form to some extent. He's also immune to Parker's spider-sense, being one of few characters who can catch him by surprise.
Venom's power is difficult to gauge because it shifts depending on his many hosts—in addition to Brock, he's had long stints with Mac Gargan (Scorpion) and Flash Thompson, where the two worked as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Like most symbiotes, Venom is vulnerable to heat and sound, and while he used to increase his host's aggression, he's since reformed into a more-heroic organism.
Hosts: Patricia Robertson, Andrea Benton, Lee Price
A clone of the Venom symbiote, Mania is sadistic and brutal, carrying powers similar to her original form. Mania is often associated with female characters, but is perhaps strongest in Maniac form (bonded to Lee Price), which nearly defeated the combined powers of Spider-Man, Black Cat, Agent Anti-Venom, and Andrea Benton, though this was only after absorbing the power of other symbiotes.
Like Venom, Mania is weak to sonic and flame weapons, but her especially violent nature makes her even more dangerous.
8. Endo-Sym Armor
Host: Tony Stark
Also called the Iron Man Armor Model 50, this living suit was created by Tony Stark from "smart-metal." Tony has stated that the suit lives, making it more than an adaptable piece of armor, and it mimics and improves upon an ordinary symbiote's powers using cutting-edge technology.
The Endo-Sym Armor easily withstood lighting strikes from X-Men member Storm (one of their strongest members), doesn't carry the typical weaknesses to fire and sound, and cooperates better with its host than most symbiotes.
Hosts: Tanis Nieves
An offspring of the Carnage symbiote, Scorn's suit was also infused with technology, not unlike Iron Man's Endo-Suit. Not only does this let her merge with and operate various weapons, it eliminates her weakness to sound. Nieves lacks the combat experience of most hosts, but her ability to both resist and utilize sonic weaponry makes her invaluable towards hunting rogue symbiotes.
Hosts: Eddie Brock, Flash Thompson
Reversing Venom's black and white patterns, Anti-Venom was born from Mister Negative's influence on Eddie. Anti-Venom bears powers similar to normal Venom, but with healing abilities mixed in, and his rejuvenating abilities prove deadly against other symbiotes.
Anti-Venom and Spider-Man manage to reconcile their differences, working together in more than one fight, and after a long run with Brock, the symbiote eventually finds Flash, who becomes Agent Anti-Venom.
Hosts: Cletus Kasady
The most infamous offspring of the Venom symbiote, Carnage's red and black costume joined with Kasady, a mentally-unhinged serial killer. Thanks to their shared aggression, Kasady and Carnage form a powerful monster whose shapeshifting is particularly proficient.
Despite his smaller stature, Carnage is undoubtedly stronger than Venom, who narrowly manages to beat him even when teamed with Spider-Man. Carnage has briefly bonded with Ben Reilly (the Spider-Man from an alternate reality) and the Silver Surfer, but he always makes his way back to Kasady; the two share such a bond they often refer to themselves as "I" rather than "we" like most symbiote pairs.
4. Red Goblin
Host: Norman Osborn
Carnage's symbiote once teamed with Norman Osborn (the Green Goblin), combining two of Spider-Man's most deadly foes. Enhanced with a drug created by Osborn, the new Red Goblin augments Carnage's already-fierce powers and removes his weaknesses to fire and sound.
Osborn has enough sadism within to form a constructive bond with the malicious red symbiote, and with his keen mind alongside Carnage's power, the two form a merciless enemy whose mere appearance once caused Spider-Man to flee in terror. Not even the combined might of Spider-Man, Silk, Clash, and the Human Torch could defeat him; in fact, Red Goblin was never really beaten, as Spider-Man only triumphed by tricking Norman (with an appeal to pride) into shedding his symbiote.
Hosts: Patrick Mulligan, Eddie Brock
Another offspring of Carnage, Toxin's symbiote was considered by Carnage and Venom to be the strongest modern symbiote. His appearance and nature change over time; he's slim and aggressive when allied with Mulligan but massive and submissive when patterned with Brock.
Right after his birth, Toxin was stronger than Venom and Carnage combined, and while he carries the usual weaknesses to heat and sound, he's much more resistant to them than most symbiotes.
Host: Knull, Gorr
The first symbiote ever created, All-Black is a malicious entity that often takes the form of a black sword. He's powerful enough that bonding with a regular mortal (Gorr) allows the pair to kill three separate versions of Thor—at the same time! In fact, his past slaughter of countless deities earned the names "Godslayer" and "God Butcher."
All-Black's strength, speed, and regeneration far outclass more symbiotes, and while he supposedly shares the common weaknesses to heat and sound, he hardly suffered any damage after being thrown into a star.
Essentially the god of all symbiotes, Knull is an ancient entity who forged All-Black to help complete his genocide of the Celestials (the creators of the universe). He commands the dragon symbiote Grendel as well as other symbiotes except for Venom, whose development into a compassionate organism rendered him a threat to Knull.
Knull's plan to be fully resurrected fails thanks to Venom and Spider-Man's efforts, but they only faced a fragment of his power—at full capacity, Knull is more than a match for most if not all gods.
More Symbiote-Wearing Characters
Today we've examined the strongest mainstream symbiotes in Marvel, but several other characters have briefly adopted a symbiote costume, including Wolverine, Deadpool, and even a tyrannosaurus dubbed "Venomsaurus Rex."
Symbiotes remain a popular group for their striking designs, fierce powers, and unique natures, and we'll undoubtedly encounter more in future comics. But for now, as we eagerly await upcoming alien life forms, vote for your favorite symbiote and I'll see you at our next Marvel countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill