Our discussion with Fleischer didn't get into the more prurient interest in Venom's tongue, but that's not to say that the director doesn't have some theories as to why it's so prominent. "When you have such a big, beastly, scary-looking monster, having that tongue kind of disarms him and I think that's why in the comics it exists," Fleischer speculates. "It just kind of takes the curse off of this super scary guy."
The great tongue lengthening was originally something of an accident, artist Erik Larson recently explained on Facebook. Larson thought Venom creator Todd McFarlane once illustrated a trade paperback cover with an extended mouth member and so followed suit. "Determined to take it a step further, I gave Venom an even bigger, crazier tongue -- not realizing that Todd didn't do anything special or unusual with his tongue at all -- it was a perfectly ordinary, unremarkable tongue," he wrote. Turns out that was something of Larson's imagination. And lo, the tongue was born.
In designing Venom for the screen, Fleischer mainly wanted to remain true to the comics while still making him look photoreal. Since, at least in this movie, Spider-Man has nothing to do with Venom's origin, one of the biggest debates was what to put on his chest instead of the web-slinger's logo. In the end, Venom's front side was left blank and veiny. "We really spent a lot of time making sure that our 3D model looked like scale and mass and size as true to Venom as we could make him," he explains. "Obviously his eyes and his mouth are his most distinguishing features. So making sure his teeth were incredibly sharp and jagged with multiple rows. That huge tongue flapping about. No shortage of saliva at any moment."