WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Sony’s Venom, in theaters now.
There was a lot of excitement surrounding the release of Sony’s Venom, as audiences were promised head-chomping fight scenes and frenetic chases by the early trailers. By now, you might have heard film hasn’t exactly been embraced by critics, who have plenty of issues with its writing and direction, a far cry from the fan response to the trailers, which were well received. Well, for the most part.
Any negative reaction wasn’t necessarily due to anything the Marvel Comics faithful saw, but rather because of what they heard. In the midst of the menacing voices and the booming soundtrack in the first full trailer, released in April, was a line of dialogue that threatened to eclipse everything else. No, not the laughable “turd in the wind,” but instead the pronunciation of the word symbiote.
Clearly, the filmmakers heard the anguished cries of Venom fandom, because in the theatrical release, Jenny Slate’s Dr. Dora Skirth no longer refers to the amorphous aliens as “sim-bye-oats,” but instead uses the more common pronunciation, “sim-bee-oats.” That would suggest at least one scene in the film was re-shot or over-dubbed.
The awkward scene takes place in the film’s second act, when Skirth, a Life Foundation scientist, realizes she’s had enough of Carlton Drake’s ruthlessness and decides to reveal his ignoble methods to the world. To do that, she reaches out to Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock and sneaks him into the Life Foundation so he can photograph the incriminating evidence. As they rush through the shockingly unguarded hallways, Skirth explains Drake’s plans to Brock and how all of it centers on the use of symbiotes.
The final cut still includes the scene, but Skirth’s pronunciation changes, to the relief of fans. Why was it such a big deal to begin with, though?
The short answer is, the internet has a tendency to cause a ruckus, about even the most innocuous things. The long answer is that people simply weren’t accustomed to hearing that word pronounced that way, especially after having read all those comics pronouncing it “sim-bee-oat,” and having grown up with all those cartoons in which the characters say “sim-bee-oat.”
Harmless as it may have been, it wouldn’t have made sense to leave that pronunciation in when every other character in the film pronounces such a key, and unusual, term differently.
Venom still has plenty of other issues — a messy script, and virtually no character development, for starters — but every cloud has a silver lining. In this case, the film may be riddled with problems, but at least mispronunciation isn’t one of them.
In theaters nationwide, director Ruben Fleischer’s Venom stars Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate,Woody Harrelson, Sope Aluko, Scott Deckert, Marcella Bragio and Michelle Lee.
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