Earlier today, Sony finally released the first teaser trailer for its R-rated Venom movie, a move you would expect to be a slam dunk for the studio. After all, for months, people have been waiting to see what Tom Hardy's take on Eddie Brock would be like.
However, the teaser provided... gives us nothing to really work with.
To be fair, there's certainly a lot to learn if you really dig into the 90 seconds or so of footage. However, taken at face value, Venom is just a movie that has Tom Hardy doing stuff while Michelle Williams walks around in a wig looking worried. It's not a particularly good look for a film due out in 8 months, but it's also understandably unavoidable considering this is a week that has already offered so much in terms of ample comic book and sci-fi movie footage for fans to go nuts over. And with so much high-profile movie news coming out, something was bound to be underwhelming. Unfortunately for Sony, it was Venom's first teaser.
Super Bowl Sunday gave us a fresh glimpse of the highly anticipated Avengers: Infinity War, no doubt eliciting feelings of nostalgia of the 2012 game when the Earth's Mightiest Heroes got their first TV spot. The following morning, we got our first footage of Solo: A Star Wars Story, and whatever else can be said about that film, everyone -- from those who've read up on the film's messy production to those who just love Lucasfilm's universe -- got at least a glimmer of excitement form the footage. Yesterday, we got our first look at Josh Brolin's Cable in Deadpool 2, a film that audiences seem destined to love when it releases in three and a half months. And the coup de grace, just hours after the Venom trailer arrived, Marvel Studios released a photo and video celebrating a full decade of its own existence.
The odds have been stacked against Venom from the very beginning, and the teaser trailer did not help things in the slightest. Everyone still remembers how poorly the character was handled in Spider-Man 3 over a decade ago, when the studio insisted that Sam Raimi increase Eddie Brock's importance in the film to include his sinister alter ego. Since Disney gained Marvel, and Spider-Man's media rights along with it, the cartoons featuring Venom have rushed into the character and its Symbiote mythology to decidedly mixed results. Of the recent cartoons, only Spectacular Spider-Man has managed to do anything with him beyond just reminding those watching that Venom exists. The bar was set even lower when the first official Venom photo Sony released of Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock looked so plain that it barely seemed related to the character at all.
Should Sony have released a Venom trailer at all this month? It's a bit of a knotty question; along with the three aforementioned anticipated films holding everyone's attention for February, it also has to deal with the promotional maelstrom that is Black Panther, which releases next week, and with this being Black History Month, will dominate the conversation for the whole month, and possibly even beyond that... until Pacific Rim Uprising arrives and John Boyega dominates theaters in March.
None of this is saying Sony should've wait until those movies were out of theaters to release a trailer, but the studio's PR team most certainly had its work cut out for itself. Given that production only recently wrapped and the suit itself wasn't even shown in the trailer, they had to put their best foot forward with what they had.
Venom as a character is no stranger to bad odds and being a victim. Time will tell if his solo movie will be anything special; as with all superhero movies these days, the thing that primarily matters is how Hardy looks in the suit. If it can deliver on that front, the teaser will be just a blip on the radar. Until then, we can only wonder why Sony would make such a baffling choice during an already crowded week.
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 arrives Oct. 5.