Search This Blog

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Venom Solo Film Announced

At time of writing, Deadpool is the highest grossing film of the year.  This kind of massive success is pretty much assured to have ripple effects, especially given the high number of mitigating factors involved.  Whatever you personally think of the character Deadpool is undoubtedly a novelty act, a C-list hero getting a spin-off dumped in February that no one at the studio level really believed in.  

Remember, this movie had to be WILLED into existence by Ryan Reynolds and Internet pressure and the big reason for that is that everyone assumed Deadpool was too minor a supporting character to sustain a film without some X-Men heavy hitter like Wolverine or Storm backing him up.  What’s more, Deadpool is the first superhero action movie with an R-rating we’ve had since Blade 2 to actually be a smash hit.  Both of these elements have combined for the latest post-Deadpool movie announcement, specifically that Sony is relaunching its Venom movie.

You may remember hearing about this movie quite awhile back.  Sony’s been wanting to do a solo Venom film since the days of Spider-Man 3 but the ball didn’t really get rolling till after Sam Raimi and Sony parted ways under the hasty and uncomfortable scuttling of Spider-Man 4.  First news of a Venom standalone film launched in spring 2012, as part of Sony’s slow drip build up to the, now defunct, Amazing Spider-Man film series.  

Back then a Venom movie just made sense, Avengers was about to become the biggest thing in the universe and redefine how we make comic book movies so continuity was poised to be the word of the day.  Even after Amazing Spider-Man came out to universal “meh?” the Venom film was still on the rails only now it was accompanied by a Sinister Six movie and a “young Aunt May fights the Nazis movie.” 

However, then came 2014 and everything went straight downhill for Sony and Spider-Man.  Amazing Spider-Man 2 lost to the R-rated comedy Neighbors in its second week and then came the disastrous Sony email hack.  All of this eventually coalesced to force Sony to abandon Amazing Spider-Man’s continuity heavy plans and adopt the new shared custody deal with Marvel that’s allowed Spider-Man to co-star in Captain America: Civil War.  

Everyone, me included, assumed that meant most of Sony’s bad Spider-Man spin-offs were scratched as well, the exception being Sinister Six as there was early chatter the team would be involved in 2017’s Spider-Man movie.  We all just assumed the new shared custody agreement on rights meant that Marvel would be given creative control over the Spider-Man material and shape it as they saw fit as Sony nodded sagely and impotently from a corner.

That whole tree of assumptions has been thrown completely out the window now as the very fact Sony is making a Venom movie means the rights situation is way more complicated than we all hoped.  Part of this also comes from a very bizarre caveat of the upcoming Venom film: it will be in no way connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  This is probably linked to part of the deal that was struck between Sony and Marvel; that Sony could still make their own stand alone films if they were fool enough to do so but if they did they wouldn’t get the comforting and welcome brand of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to slap over their films.  It’s unclear whether or not this means Marvel can’t use the symbiotes and black suit in their Spider-Man continuity but if that is the case it could mean fundamental elements of the Spider-Man universe like Gwen Stacy, Aunt May, and the Sinister Six are free game for Sony’s development department.

However, the lunacy of this situation extends beyond just snatching up Spider-Man elements like desserts off a trolley to rush out sub-par superhero features.  Not only will Venom not be connected to the MCU, it won’t be connected to the Spider-Man mythos as a whole.  I’m not sure how that’s meant to work given that Venom’s powers all come from the symbiote being attached to Peter Parker.  What’s more, everything interesting about Venom emerges from his connection to Spider-Man, that’s the whole point of being a villain.  

It’s possible that this take on Venom will be inspired by the more recent Flash Thompson arcs as a government agent and then space knight but given most executives view Venom as “bad ass Spider-Man” I doubt they’ll go that far off brand.  Instead, this will just be the story of an alien goop that attaches itself to a brooding and troubled reporter who then becomes a violent anti-hero because that’s the most adolescent definition of a “bad ass” one can conjure and, consequently, exactly the market Venom was developed to corner in the ‘90s. 

It’s also pretty fair to expect an R-Rating for Sony’s upcoming Venom movie because, again, this whole thing is happening because Deadpool was an R-rated spin-offs starring a C-list supporting character so that is exactly what Sony is angling to be.  It’s very much a case of missing the forest for the trees in terms of what actually made Deadpool successful (an understanding of the actual appeal of the character combined with major technical skill in balancing comedy to pathos within the film.) 

While an R-rated Venom movie could be interesting, I do have a lot of nostalgia for Lethal Protector, it’d only be all that engaging if it was tied to the much more interesting broader universe of Spider-Man and the Marvel comics.  Just as a basic instance of this going wrong: who could the villain possibly be?  Assuming Sony can pull Spider-Man villains at will for inclusion who do you even pit against Venom without screwing over Marvel so badly this partnership doesn’t last?  The bad guy almost has to be Carnage or Anti-Venom or one of the interchangeable other symbiote spawns. 

The other hovering rumor of awfulness that’s clinging to this story like a bad smell is that Josh ‘Fant4stic’ Trank will direct.  Look, even if we accept that Fant4stic wasn’t Josh Trank’s fault his preceding film Chronicle was a pretty dismal affair all on its own merits.  It’s still a little early to declare Trank an outright bad director but throwing him on a second toxic superhero project fueled by studio dick measuring rather than creative inspiration is just being unfair.  It’s possible he’ll pull off something more engaging with Venom given that Sony clearly wants the film to be “alien substance gives super powers to jerky white dude,” which was pretty much exactly the plot of Chronicle, but we’ll see.

Cards on the table, this all sounds like a pretty terrible idea.  The concept may have emerged from a desire to emulate Deadpool’s success but it feels more like a Frankenstein of the worst pre-production ideas of the last several years.  It’s a film being rushed out over studio fighting just like Fant4stic, an attempt to milk boring but marketable characters like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a soulless Sony cash grab like both Amazing Spider-Man films, and, worst of all, a forced darkening of a classic kids character to make them more palatable to disaffected angsty 13 year olds, just like Man of Steel. 

if you liked this article please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

No comments:

Post a Comment