Why Sony Should Scrap The Venom Film
I get that Deadpool convinced studios that there’s potential for an R-rated superhero film. The problem is that rolling out a film without looking at what exactly made something work on a deeper level than simple surface details is something that primes a company for financial failure.
Sony’s plans for a Venom film without any connection to the Spider-Man films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has to be one of the dumbest ideas that I’ve ever heard.
One of the biggest red flags given about the Fantastic Four reboot was that it would not be connected to the X-Men franchise. Cutting off the potential for crossovers with characters like Multiple Man and Franklin Richards or the potential for the celebrity Fantastic Four to contrast with the government always being on the verge of shutting down the X-Men was an incredibly stupid decision and it showed when we all saw the disappointing final product. Sony’s stand alone spin-off seems to not only be repeating the same mistake of not utilizing a shared universe where possible while also repeating the mistake of not understanding why an IP was successful in the first place.
First off, it’s a spin-off that’s not a spin-off. Not only is it adapting a character with the same powers and a similar costume to Spider-Man without Spider-Man even appearing but it’s in a completely different universe when Sony is fully without their rights to place it within the larger Avengers universe. Venom could walk the streets of New York City where he could run into Luke Cage and Daredevil and view the Avengers Tower in the skyline but that isn’t going to happen.
Also, Venom’s origin story is tied to Spider-Man. It doesn’t work to segregate Venom into his own universe. How do you explain the spider on his chest or how/why he shoots webs in a world where there never was a Spider-Man?
Moreover, how do you make Flash Thompson and Eddie Brock into Venom without giving them some sort of desire to one-up Spider-Man? What’s the origin story here and how can Spider-Man even be cut out of it without it appearing nonsensical?
Has anybody considered that Carnage doesn’t work as a villain for Venom unless Spider-Man exists? Wouldn’t Carnage work best as a villain in a Venom film before doing a team-up between Venom and Spider-Man in an adaptation of Maximum Carnage? Spider-Man’s central theme is that power requires responsibility and Carnage is an evil version of Spider-Man who has no sense of responsibility at all. Again, Sony are dropping the ball here by not allowing Venom and Carnage into Spider-Man’s world.
When Spider-Man is removed from the equation, Carnage stops being interesting since he’s just a generic psychopath as he’s no longer a foil to Spider-Man and just, “a bad guy with Venom’s powers.” Venom vs Carnage is only interesting when you have Flash Thompson or Eddie Brock trying to better themselves and work toward their own redemption. The question is what are they atoning for? Who is Venom anyway without Peter Parker as somebody to both aspire to be and aspire to be greater than and when that’s taken away from him, how do you keep him from being a boring one-note character?
Both Brock and Thompson started out being angry and spiteful with a deep hatred of Spider-Man. Without an object of hatred for either of them to bury the hatchet with, neither of them has any desire to be a better person. Without Spider-Man, they lose most of their character development and stop being relatable. The entire point of Venom as a character is, “I’ve made some mistakes but I try to atone for it by working hard to be a better person.” Without Spider-Man, what is Venom atoning for? Why do audiences even want to root for Venom if he’s generic and boring? How will the director and screenwriter try to make Venom want to be a hero without making the character development seem forced? If these questions aren’t answered by the studio, you wind up with a guy who gets bonded to alien goop and fights another guy who’s bonded with alien goop just because it makes for a good fight scene. At that point, Venom and Carnage fighting is robbed of meaningful conflict and just becomes gratuitous violence for the sake of a fight scene which can work in a straightforward action film but cannot work with the superhero genre since it’s like a Western being set in an urban area on the East Coast.
I mean, there are plenty of films that focus entirely on being visually striking and pushing a “cool factor” over any real emotional depth. The Michael Bay Transformers films are great examples of those. The problem is that the Transformers series is critically panned and the lack of emotional depth those films have makes them ultimately forgettable. Moreover, Transformers is part of the daikaiju genre which only really has Godzilla, King Kong and Pacific Rim to compete with. The superhero genre is much more crowded with multiple existing franchises and audiences won’t pay to see a poor quality superhero film because they have other options as the failure of Green Lantern, TASM2 and Fantastic Four attest to. Alternately, look at the comedy genre. No genre has more failed films than comedy and that’s partially because it’s hard to do well and partially because they’re cheap to make. A poor quality comedy film is nearly guaranteed to lose money at the box office but they keep on coming because they don’t hurt the bottom line of the film studios so they’re worth the risk. A failed superhero film is going to be a big, expensive mistake with a nine figure budget that will get in the way of Sony being able to fund other projects since the company will lose revenue. No corporation stays in business by losing money.
The current plans for Venom are terrible and ultimately an insult to fans. My suggestion for how to better do a Venom film would be to introduce the black costume in Avengers: Infinity War, introduce Eddie Brock at the Daily Bugle in a late 2019 Spider-Man sequel and have Peter lose the black costume in that film with Venom first appearing after the credits. Have the third Spider-Man film be Peter vs Venom in 2021 and then do a Venom solo film in 2022 to introduce Carnage and set the stage for a crossover between those two properties in 2023 where they team up for fight Carnage.
Moreover, if Sony wish to do Spider-Man spin-offs, then not only should they be set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Spider-Man present but the Sinister Six, May Parker and female team-up films all sounded like terrible ideas. The best choice overall is Silver Sable who not only had a solid ongoing series back in the 90s but doesn’t require any buildup among other properties to utilize her. Or if Sony want to do a spin-off that can work in its own universe without having to do any sort of negotiations with Marvel, then Spider-Man 2099 works so much better than Venom does since there would be zero continuity problems as it’s set so far in the future.