Sony has a lot riding on its upcoming Venom movie. Up until recently, both Marvel and Sony had confirmed that it would be completely independent from both Spider-Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe at large, but now even that status is in question. After Venom, they’ve announced Silver and Black, a team-up movie featuring Silver Sable and Black Cat, two far less recognizable Spider-Man characters than Venom, and after that, they have Mysterio and Kraven the Hunter movies lined up. That’s four Spider-Man villain movies with no Spider-Man. It’s a bold move, to say the least.
Can Spider-Man’s villains carry successful franchises without him? That’s the chance Sony is taking with Venom, because if it turns out to be a critical or financial failure, enthusiasm is going to plummet for Silver and Black, and any other Spider-Man property Sony puts out. With leaked reports that the future of the studio is relying on the success of The Emoji Movie, things aren’t looking good. Fans, understandably, seem to be pretty divided on the issue, and there are quite a few good arguments from both sides. Here are eight reasons that Venom is doomed to fail (and seven that it could save Sony!)
15. FAIL: VENOM’S ORIGIN IS DIRECTLY TIED TO SPIDER-MAN
One of the biggest complaints since it was announced that Venom would be completely separate from Spider-Man and the Marvel Cinematic Universe is that Venom’s creation is directly tied to Spider-Man, more than any other Spider-Man villain. The symbiote that turned Eddie Brock into Venom was originally worn by Peter Parker, which is why it gives Brock similar web-slinging and wall-crawling abilities
It’s also the reason that Venom is a villain in the first place. The symbiote hates Peter Parker because it feels rejected by him, and Eddie Brock hates Parker because he inadvertently destroyed Brock’s career. It’s why the two bonded so easily, and because their central motivation is to destroy Peter Parker’s life; it’s why Venom feels the need to wreak havoc on the world around him.
14. SAVE: THE ROGUES GALLERY
One of the biggest bargaining chips that Sony has on Marvel Studios now that they’ve agreed to share Spider-Man is that they still own exclusive rights to almost every villain in Spider-Man’s rogue’s gallery, which is a pretty big chip considering Spider-Man has some of the most unique and interesting villains in the history of comic books.
This means that any character Spider-Man has faced off against in the past could potentially show up as an enemy to Venom in the future, whether Venom has met them in the comics or not. While Spider-Man is undoubtedly Venom’s most iconic enemy, Sony would have no shortage of baddies to choose from if they never got to use Spider-Man in a movie, and transitioned Venom into more of a hero role instead.
13. FAIL: SPIDEY NEEDS HIS ROGUES
On the flip side of that, while Spider-Man is a beloved character by many, one of the things that makes him such an interesting character to read about are the villains that he goes up against. If Sony decided it wasn’t going to play nice and withheld all of Spider-Man’s most iconic villains, things could get pretty stale, pretty fast.
How long could we really be satisfied with future Spider-Man movies if we never even got a mention of Doctor Octopus, the Green Goblin or even Venom, himself? While it’s true that Marvel Studios owns the rights to plenty of villains that could potentially go up against the web-slinger, it would inevitably feel like kind of a cop-out, and everyone in the audience would know that Sony was to blame.
12. SAVE: VENOM IS AN ANTI-HERO
While Venom’s R-rating and early reports suggest that the character’s first outing will have him playing the role of a villain in his own movie, things have never been quite that simple with Venom in the comics. He’s been such a well-liked character since his introduction in The Amazing Spider-Man #300 by writer David Michelinie and artist Todd McFarlane, that writers over the years have played around with his motivations, making him into more of an anti-hero most of the time, and even becoming a straight superhero in some cases.
If Sony wanted to stretch out the life of the character on-screen without using Spider-Man as a crutch, it would be a pretty easy transition to making him the central hero of their own cinematic universe that audiences could relate to and fear at the same time.
11. FAIL: SONY VS. THE MCU
Since Venom was announced by Sony back in May of this year, the consensus was that it would not be connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but just a few days after Marvel Executive Kevin Feige confirmed that they would be completely separate universes, he sat right next to Sony Executive Amy Pascal as she confirmed that they WOULD be part of the same universe. Feige looked notably confused as Pascal said that Spider-Man and other MCU characters could potentially show up in future Venomverse films, and vice-versa, so now nobody is sure exactly what’s going on.
It’s not a good sign that the two studios are having such big disagreements, and are publicly contradicting each other’s statements. Regardless of what kind of agreement they come to, it makes it look like Sony doesn’t have faith in Venom to stand on its own without the MCU backing it up.
10. SAVE: VENOM IS INTERESTING ENOUGH
Even though his origin is tied so closely to Spider-Man, Venom has been handled with love by dozens of writers over the years, turning him from the simple one-note villain that he started out as, into a rich, complex character in his own right. Eddie Brock isn’t an evil person at heart, so he often struggles with the atrocities that he commits as Venom.
On the flip-side of that, the symbiote isn’t inherently evil either, often fighting on the side of good and even helping Spider-Man out occasionally when people are in danger. It creates a kind of complex inner turmoil that superhero films haven’t yet had a chance to effectively explore and an opportunity that would be wasted if he became just another Spider-Man villain.
9. FAIL: SPIDER-MAN VS. VENOM
One of the biggest tragedies that would happen if Venom and Spider-Man were to be confined to separate universes is that we would never get to see a proper Spider-Man vs. Venom fight on-screen. Not only is it a wasted opportunity to see two of the biggest comic book characters of all time go head-to-head, but it’s a deep, emotional battle for each of them.
Spider-Man knows that he has to beat Venom because he’s a danger to the world around him, but at the same time blames himself for creating Venom in the first place. On the other side, Venom hates Peter Parker with every fiber of his being, and beating him would represent the catharsis of his existence. In some iterations, Parker and Brock were even old friends before their split, so deep down, neither one truly wants to destroy the other, but they’re compelled to by their baser emotions.
8. SAVE: SONY DESERVES ITS OWN CINEMATIC UNIVERSE
Sony has been working hard to kick off its own cinematic universe since at least 2012 with The Amazing Spider-Man, and arguably before. They’ve had a few missteps along the way, but so did Fox and DC, and they’re well on their way to creating superhero cinematic universes that rival the MCU. What’s worse, is that Sony has arguably the greatest superhero of all time at their disposal, and they’ve still ended up with the worst attempt at a cinematic universe so far.
A “Villainverse” is a unique take on the concept, though. Even a single villain-centric superhero movie has never really been attempted before, and with some creativity, it could change the way we look at superhero movies. Marvel Studios infamously has a problem with creating compelling villains. By taking the hero out of the equation, Sony has a chance to accomplish something no other superhero franchise has.
7. FAIL: SONY’S TRACK RECORD
The problem with trusting Sony to creatively craft a cinematic universe is that we’ve all seen what Sony has done in the past with Spider-Man characters. Perhaps their most infamous failure, Spider-Man 3, actually featured Venom as the main villain. You may have forgotten Venom has appeared on-screen before (or tried to) because most of his screentime came in the finale of the movie, and the frightening Venom face pulled back in nearly every shot, so that the audience could see Topher Grace’s boyish visage instead.
It would be difficult to fail any harder than Venom’s portrayal in Spider-Man 3, but Sony hasn’t given us much of a reason to believe this version will be any better, especially considering their most recent attempt at the Spider-Man universe was The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which was co-written by Jeff Pinkner, the screenwriter of Venom.
6. SAVE: TOM HARDY
Tom Hardy has been the bright spot that has saved the hype for Venom. For one thing, it would be harder to go more wrong than Topher Grace, but Tom Hardy is about as perfect casting for Venom as you could get. For another, Tom Hardy doesn’t really have any bad films to his name. He has an extraordinarily high success rate of taking good scripts, and not sacrificing his artistic integrity for a good payday, which is a good sign for the Venom script.
Hardy is also an extraordinary actor who gives consistently emotional and complex performances in every film he makes, so even if Venom did end up with a lackluster script, it still has a chance of being saved by a whirlwind Tom Hardy performance.
5. FAIL: NOT JUST ANOTHER SUPERHERO
The issue with creating a villain-centric universe is that eventually, the audience needs someone to root for. As fun as watching one movie where the main character wreaks havoc and gets away with it might be, it would get a bit tiring to watch it over and over again. The natural solution would be to transition Venom into more of a hero role.
Venom is an anti-hero character in the comics, so it’s a fair move, but if Sony just makes Venom into the Spider-Man of their universe, not only is it just a blatant rip-off, but it takes away the appeal of Venom as a character. The anti-hero is a fine line to walk, and if Venom’s role in future movies is just to protect the innocent and fight evil, then he wouldn’t really be an “anti-hero” at all, he’d just be a scarier looking version of Spider-Man.
4. SAVE: CARNAGE
In a move that should surprise no one, Sony has announced the Carnage will be the central antagonist of Venom. This is a character that fans have been dying to see on-screen for years, but one who just couldn’t be done justice without an R-rating. As frightening and brutal as Venom can be, Carnage is chaos incarnate.
The Carnage symbiote’s host is a sadistic serial killer named Cletus Kasady who had a sizeable body count long before he was given the superhuman abilities of a symbiote, killing people at random, just because he could. It gives us hope that even if Venom is basically a hero in his movie from the beginning, it will still be a bloody, violent, wild ride with Carnage on the other end.
3. FAIL: A VENOMVERSE CAN’T LAST
The “Cinematic Universe” is a big thing right now in Hollywood, because even if a movie isn’t a direct sequel, it will get a financial boost from its in-universe connections. Sony first tried to do this with Spider-Man, planning a Sinister Six movie, and possibly even an Aunt May movie. The problem is obvious. You can’t build a cinematic universe around a single character.
Now that Sony has handed over that single character, their strategy is to build an interconnected universe around his villains, but where do you go from there? When several Spidey villains have gotten their own solo films, what happens when it’s time for them to cross over? Will they just be fighting the military? Venom? Each other? No matter what, it ends up feeling like a stupidly contrived cash grab.
2. SAVE: THE R-RATING
Right now, Marvel Studios is playing the safe game in keeping all their films with a PG-13 rating. Up until recently, this has been standard in Hollywood because R-rated films just can’t pull in as wide of an audience thanks to the age restriction. Now that Fox has had two R-rated critical successes with Deadpool and Logan, it’s opened up a world of possibilities.
Some comic book characters just weren’t written to be kid-friendly, and that includes Venom and Carnage. A PG-13 outing for Venom could be fun, but at best, it would leave something to be desired. With an R-rating, fans can get a true-to-form Venom who eats brains, rips off limbs and is downright terrifying. This goes double for Carnage whose only drive in existence is to torture and murder in the goriest way possible.
1. FAIL: SILVER AND BLACK
A Silver Sable/Black Cat team-up movie is set to arrive after Venom, which is already an odd pairing considering that the characters have never had any extended interaction in the comics. They’re also not particularly popular or well-known characters outside of dedicated Marvel readers; and unfortunately, Black Cat is the only hero that Sony still has exclusive rights to, if you could even call her a hero.
Seeing Black Cat go up against Venom, Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin would not only be boring, but who would be the audience for that movie? She’s never had her own solo ongoing series, so the only people who recognize her, know her from her interactions with Spider-Man, who may or may not even exist in this universe.
What do you think? Will Venom pass muster or die a cold death? Let us know in the comments!
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