In July of this year, Marvel Studios, in collaboration with Sony, finally unveiled their long awaited take on their most beloved hero with Spider-Man: Homecoming. The film finally introduced the character to the MCU after a highly publicized deal struck back in 2015. The deal gave Marvel Studios creative control over the film, and Sony, well…Sony still got to pay for it and approve and creative decisions made. Still, the film was a critical and box office and success, and with that success came many questions. Particularly, how would the many Spider-Man spinoffs planned by Sony be handled? Well since the deal, The Sinister Six film by Drew Goddard has fallen apart, but for the most part, it doesn’t seem that the slate of films hasn’t been greatly affected by the deal with Marvel Studios.
One in particular is actually on its way to us next year, and that’s the highly discussed Venom spinoff film. Many people, myself included, had fairly mixed reactions to the news that Sony is continuing with the project. Still, regardless of you feel, the movie is due out October of next year, and set to start filming fairly soon. And as the news of the cast and story builds up, so does all of our collective anticipation. So let’s start building up the hype, and prepare for what’s to come by taking a look at what we know so far about Venom!
As soon as the movie was announced, I think everyone had one thought go through their head at least at one point, which was “whoever they cast, it can’t be worse than Topher Grace”. And while I don’t think Grace is a bad actor, I can agree that his portrayal of Eddie Brock in 2007’s Spider-Man 3 wasn’t just inaccurate, it was downright cringeworthy. However it was earlier this year that Academy Award nominated actor Tom Hardy (Dunkirk, Mad Max) was announced to portray the titular character of Venom/Eddie Brock. No matter how anyone feels about this adaption, it’s probably safe to say that they all felt a glimmer of hope and excitement. Hardy continues to surprise audiences with the diversity of his performances. He’s already had experience playing a comic book villain by playing Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, he did a perfect job acting as Mel Gibson’s successor in Mad Max: Fury Road, and even though you almost never see his face, I believe that his performance in Dunkirk outshines every other in that film. Knowing just how well he can handle almost any role, it’ll be very exciting to see how he handles both the characters of Brock and Venom.
Aside from Hardy, we only know of one other talent that is confirmed for the film, and that is Star Wars: Rogue One star Riz Ahmed. Though it’s not confirmed quite yet who he’ll be playing, the popular theory is that Ahmed will be taking on the role of the movie’s main antagonist, and Marvel fan favorite, Cletus Kasady, or Carnage. Though this hasn’t been confirmed, it would make the most sense to cast the villain right after the hero. Other theories for Ahmed’s character include The Chameleon, Kraven the Hunter, or a someone new entirely. And, as of the writing of this article, it is now being rumored that Shutter Island actress Michelle Williams is in talks to play the movie’s love interest! Though her casting still needs to be confirmed, and the majority of the cast has yet to be announced, it’s become clear that Sony won’t be holding back when it comes to big names for the spinoff.
THE STORY AND POSSIBLE CONNECTIONS TO THE MCU
Given that the film is still a year away, much has yet to be revealed regarding not only it’s cast, but its plot as well. We know that the story will center around Eddie Brock, the first character to call himself Venom. We know that the villain is Cletus Kasady, or Carnage, a serial killer who bonded with the offspring of the Venom symbiote. The film will be rated R, likely trying to mimic the success of films like Deadpool and Logan. However, aside from all of that, we still know little to nothing about the story.
Even more mysterious, however, are the movies ties to the successful MCU. Or rather, the lack of ties. It’s hard to say, and nothing’s been solidly confirmed as to whether the film does or doesn’t fit in with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Especially concerning, since Venom’s nemesis Spider-Man is currently residing in that shared universe. Will we ever see Tom Holland’s Spider-Man cross paths with Tom Hardy’s Venom? The answers have been confusing, to say the least. At one point, producer Amy Pascal seemed to eagerly confirm that Venom will indeed exist within the MCU. However, an uncomfortable Kevin Fiege later denied this, stating that the spinoff series would serve as their own separate universe. That seemed to clear the air for a brief moment, though the news disappointed fans. Later though, Amy Pascal once again jumped in, this time saying that the spinoff films DO exist within the MCU, just don’t expect to ever see their characters or stories cross paths.
What’s the point of saying these films are in a shared universe if the movies are never going to actually share their universe? It’s hard to say. Chances are, Pascal is trying to build up more favor with any fans who still have reservations about the spinoffs. Saying that they are set in the MCU without actually showing off that aspect seems like a safe way to comfort fans without actually giving them what they want. Whether you consider that smart marketing or just obvious lying, that seems to be the road they’re driving down.
Still, being set in the MCU shouldn’t effect the quality of this film at all. The X-Men films are also set completely apart from Marvel’s, and for the most part, the response to those have been glowing. I don’t believe we would have ever gotten films like Days of Future Past, Deadpool, or Logan if they were under the Marvel Studios brand. I’m not saying this film will be as good as any of those, I’m just saying that just because we’re not seeing Iron Man fly by every twenty minutes, doesn’t mean it won’t be.
Unfortunately, there’s not too much more to say about the Venom spinoff. The film is being directed by Ruben Fleischer, who’s filmography includes 2009’s Zombieland and 2013’s Gangster Squad. Both movies were drastically different in tone, yet from a directorial standpoint, he executed both very well. So while we have yet to see how he’ll handle the horror-action feel that Sony is going for with Venom, I have confidence that Fleischer will have no problem adapting to it, so long as Sony doesn’t interfere too much. Recently, he’s described his main sources of inspiration being taken from the works of both John Carpenter and David Cronenberg. I don’t know about you, but a Venom movie with the feel and execution of John Carpenter’s The Thing actually sounds better than I could have ever hoped for.
The writers behind the spinoff include Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinker. This is the biggest aspect where things start to worry me. Both writers have worked on the new film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, and have separately worked on projects such as Pain & Gain (2013), The Dark Tower (2017), and The 5th Wave (2016). While it’s better not to judge an upcoming movie based on its writers, especially once you know just how much studios interfere with a movies story, that kind of track record doesn’t fill me with much hope. It’s very possible that these two will surprise me and find their footing with the Venom screenplay, but as of now, I’m mostly hoping that the cast and director will be the ones to make this movie work.
But for right now, that’s it. Perhaps we were all a little skeptical about this project at first, but as more news is released, I’ve seen the anticipation around it become much more positive than negative. After reading this article and knowing all the information available, what do you think? Are you excited for Venom, are you worried but hopeful, or are you full on against the movie altogether? It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out, but for now, I remain cautiously optimistic.
Venom is only a year away now, hitting theaters October 5th, 2018.