Sony officially unveiled the first teaser for Venom earlier this week, and fans have not been shy about voicing concerns over the footage's lack of, well, footage. Throughout the teaser, the film's plotline is never made clear, we don't know exactly how Tom Hardy's character finds himself face-to-face with his symbiote, and Venom himself is never even seen.
But... that's exactly how it should be.
Now, before we get started, this piece is not an indictment on the fans who are upset. We are all due our own opinions, and superhero properties in particular have a special way of burrowing into our hearts. But the outcry over this teaser is a direct result of what Hollywood has conditioned fans to expect from trailers over the last several years. As a result, the studios have effectively caused the teaser's greatest strength to become its greatest weakness.
The Venom footage acts as an old school teaser, a la the '70s or '80s. Back then, trailers were meant to tease audiences into wanting more, not taking the easy way out by marketing the film's most climactic moments months before the movie even releases. It wouldn't be until decades later that third act spoilers became common ground for trailers (e.g. Batman v Superman's blatant Doomsday reveal).
The retro-marketing approach also falls exactly in line with what has been stated as the inspirations for Venom as an overall production, with Columbia Pictures President Sanford Panitch's reveal last July that the film draws upon the works of directors John Carpenter and David Cronenberg, both of them obviously legends from the era following iconic "Body Horror" films such as The Thing and The Fly.
Damned if You Do... Or Don't
While the ultimate impact of the trailer's decision to remain coy on details or imagery is up to the eye of the beholder, there is one fact that is inarguable: Everyone hates bad CGI, and this is another possibility as to why the teaser exists in the fashion it does.
Venom doesn't launch in theaters until October, and eight months is a very long time in filmmaking metrics. It's quite possible that the studio is still hammering out how it want the new Venom to appear, and a rushed design could have been incredibly damaging for the movie's reputation. After all, you only get to reveal something once, and first impressions are everything. It takes all of five minutes for online culture to run rampant with talks of bad CGI, and the stigma is hard to shake.
Patience Is a (Forgotten) Virtue
To quote the immortal words of Luke Skywalker: "Just... breathe."
The success of social media has turned the Internet into a melting pot of hot takes. Just about everyone has multiple outlets to immediately get their thoughts out into the ether, and thus feels obligated to do so. But sometimes reactionary thinking isn't rational, and it begins to feel like every Hollywood trailer or announcement becomes a cataclysmic event.
Sure, you might not like the Venom teaser, but give the studio time, and it'll definitely oblige audiences with another one. And then another one. And another one...
Let teasers breathe, and let movies speak for themselves on opening day.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer from a script by Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg, Venom stars Tom Hardy, Jenny Slate, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed. The film swings into theaters on Oct. 5.