Venom. The very name is something that a lot of people, in a number of demographics, will recognize. He’s one of the most famous comic book villains – and later, anti-hero – possibly to ever grace a piece of paper. Why, then, is it so hard to depict him on the big screen?
For those that don’t know, Venom is one of the primary antagonists to come out of Spider-Man’s gallery of rogues. To simplify Venom’s story as much as possible: he’s an alien symbiote – a living goop (yes, that’s the technical term we’re going with) that bonds with first Peter Parker, and then later with reporter Eddie Brock, and essentially becomes “Evil Spider-Man,” complete with black suit and goopy web-slinging.
That’s at least how it all started; after numerous confrontations with Spider-Man over the years, the popularity of the character turned him more into of an anti-hero, a creature that was concerned with helping innocent people – even if both the symbiote and Brock hated Spider-Man.
The last time audiences got a glimpse of Venom on the big screen was in 2007, when Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy was wrapping up with the resounding ‘thud’ that was Spider-Man 3. In it, Topher Grace (TV’s That 70s Show) portrayed the most recent version of Mr. Brock, and it was rightly met with much derision. Venom is an imposing, terrifying, nightmarish character, and whether it was acting or the CGI of the times, 2007’s rendition of the alien was… less than impressive.
Here we are then, 11 years later, and the success of not only superhero movies in general but also 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming has fast-tracked Venom’s solo movie to the point where audiences have now had the pleasure of viewing the first major trailer.
Tom Hardy (The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road) is in the titular role, though he employs a strange American accent here in the trailer. Still, he’s generally one of the better actors working today, so we’ll give him a pass. There are only two important things to glean from this trailer: what does Venom look like, and how does he relate to Spider-Man?
In that sense, there’s some good news: Venom looks awesome. He glistens with an alien sheen, he has the rows of crooked, jagged teeth, all of which make him look truly scary. He essentially looks like he was ripped out of a comic book, which does lend a flicker of excitement to this movie.
Of course, with the good comes the bad as well, and this is really the largest source of concern: Spider-Man, at least right now, does not seem to be in the film. Venom, at his core, is a Spider-Man character. The symbiote knows who Peter Parker is, because he bonded with him first, and later develops a hatred for him because Peter cast it aside. The whole reason the Venom symbiote is attracted to Brock in the first place is because the alien can sense their shared disgust for Spidey. If he’s not in it, will Venom still have the signature white spider on his chest (something notably not shown in both trailers so far)? How will Venom/Brock even know to do any of the web slinging powers in the first place? Are they just going to imply that Spider-Man is in the universe, but not show him in the movie at all?
It’s the simplest of problems – how can you have a Venom movie without Spider-Man? The answer is relatively simple as well: you can’t.
Having said that, we don’t know for sure that Peter Parker is not in the film – after all, Sony still owns the character, and has essentially ‘loaned’ him to Marvel Studios for his appearances in Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, not to mention Spider-Man: Homecoming itself. Who knows? Maybe there’s a contractual clause that stipulates Tom Holland has to make a cameo in this film.
Despite the fact that Venom looks like he (perhaps ‘they’ is better used, considering the alien’s penchant for speaking on behalf of both itself and Eddie Brock) might finally get their best visual representation yet, the Spider-Man issue looms large over the movie.
As it’s more or less impossible to tell at this stage, we recommend keeping expectations low – but hope for the best anyway.
Venom arrives in theatres on October 5, 2018.
You can follow Shoaib Alli on Twitter @SNSAlli for other hot takes, but also just movie news in general. He’s a bit of a fan of movies, you know.