One of the biggest movie stories coming out in recent weeks is the announcement of Tom Hardy, one of the biggest stars – both in recognition and just pure muscle mass – in the industry, is to play Venom in a Spider-Man solo spin-off.
Ever since the initial reveal, fans have been simultaneously jubilantly excited and pessimistically cautious at the prospect of a new Venom-lead film. With little information to go on, questions of what the film could bring and where it will stand in the Sony/MCU are abound.
As any fan of Spider-Man, comic books, or superhero movies knows, the last time Venom made an appearance on the big screen wasn’t exactly what people wanted.
With precious few minutes of screen time in Spider-Man 3, the previous Venom incarnation was only introduced with the final cast in an already bloated movie, and was portrayed as a scrawny, whiny, and somewhat annoying villain.
Though neither the actor nor the director should shoulder too much of the blame for that. Sam Raimi has publicly noted how much the production was controlled by Sony, and how had not wanted to put Venom into the film at all, and save the character for a later movie.
Now that this new film is to be purely Venom-centric, with a strong actor like Hardy behind it, the hope is that it will give cinemagoers a better representation of what it is true to the character. That, and to help people forget Venom’s last outing on the big screen.
MCU and R-Ratings
In an incredibly confusing interview, Amy Pascal, Sony executive and a producer on the film, stated that the movie would be “adjunct” to Spider-Man: Homecoming, still part of the same world but not directly linked.
The fact that Venom won’t himself be an MCU character but the movie will link into the canon is an interesting and seemly quite complicated move. It shows that the relationship between the companies is not especially hostile, which is more than can be said between Marvel and Fox, and they seem to be trying to create successful joint ventures.
Aside from where it fits in with the established main universe, the second biggest question about Venom is will it be an R-Rated movie?
One of the biggest appeals of Venom is his generally gritty and dark demeanour. Recent “grown-up” superhero movies (Deadpool, Logan) demonstrate that a more mature orientated film may be the best course, if done right. Like Deadpool, Venom is at heart an anti-hero; a crime fighter who is not afraid to commit a few crimes in the process. Trying to suit his style for a broader audience will probably just end up compromising what the character is actually all about.
Adding to this, Hardy is a very intense actor who thrives in brutal roles and is no stranger to the superhero film genre. His portrayal of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises is heralded as one of the best.
Yet Marvel – and specifically Marvel Studios (aka Feige Island) – aren’t the sort of company to surrender creative control lightly, not anymore at least. Another studio running a cinematic universe independently of them, while still being considered canon, is unlikely to fly. Indeed after Pascal made those confusing remarks, Feige later put out a statement retracting a lot of it.
At the same time, it may be what the Marvel Netflix shows are to the main Cinematic Universe, a dark mirror and a far more mature side to the established materials. Referencing the wider universe, without having too much canon-shifting effect on in themselves. It should be pointed out that while Disney does own both Marvel and ABC Studios (the producers of Marvel’s Netfilx shows), the distance in terms of collaboration is probably not a million miles away from that of Marvel Studios and Sony.
The Story and Where Can It Lead
In comic book adaptions, it’s natural for changes and changes in direction to be made. Though the argument could be made that they’re firing the gun too early in bringing Venom into the universe (whichever universe that ends up being) at this early stage.
Previously stated by both Homecoming director Jon Watts and spidey actor Tom Holland, the Spider-Man films are meant to be a slow-burner, revolving how Peter Parker grows up and challenges rivals, both as a superhero and as a normal guy.
In the comics, Eddie Brock, the man behind Venom, personifies this as he is both a work nemesis who seeks to one-up Peter, and as a brutal villain who wants to destroy Spider-Man. Depending on your preferred origin story, Eddie is also a close childhood friend of Peter, jealous of what he has accomplished compared to him.
Introducing Venom now, this build up and these possible stories are potentially wasted, and we may get a haphazard rendition of what Venom is.
This is of course all speculation, and people behind the scenes seem to be extremely confident in the movie, to the point where they are setting up further spin-offs revolving around lesser known characters like Black Cat and Silver Sable.
You never know, they may be able to make a movie out of all the characters from the classic 90s cartoon.
Venom has got a release date of October 5th 2018, and filming is reportedly under the way.