When Sony announced they were going forward with a Venom movie, we had a right to be skeptical. When considering all of Spider-Man’s iconic villains over the years, Venom is easily one of the most memorable and popular adversaries of the ol’ Web Head. Half alien symbiote that was once bonded to Spider-Man and half disgraced journalist Eddie Brock, their combined hatred of Spider-Man created an monstrous vigilante/anti-hero with considerable powers who continues to cross paths with Spider-Man to this day. One of the few Spider-Man foes to successfully carry their own series, Venom continued to make appearances in comics and television alike until his big screen debut in 2007’s Spider-Man 3. Although the movie and actor Topher Grace tried, the performance failed to capture the charm and danger that Venom represents to Spider-Man and future discussions of a Venom solo film were shelved. Discussion of the solo film returned in 2012 as part of the Amazing Spider-Man series to be directed by Chronicle’s Joshua Trank but that idea went nowhere once again. Finally in 2016, discussions of a Venom solo film were finally moving forward with Tom Hardy cast as Eddie Brock and Zombieland’s Ruben Fleischer directing a film outside of the current MCU continuity. The first trailer was an teaser that didn’t really show much of Brock’s alter ego and the second trailer is infamously known for creating the debate around the proper pronunciation of symbiotes. Today the 3rd trailer for Venom was released to the public although I remain skeptical, the content inside has definitely peaked my interest for its premiere in October.
One of the films biggest criticisms already has been the removal of Spider-Man from Venom’s origin overall. Tom Hardy shows an Eddie Brock who isn’t afraid of dealing with scandals or blows to his professional reputation while in pursuit of the truth, but Spider-Man was the main reason for Venom’s creation. Once rejected because of its abuse of its host and his powers, the symbiote lay dormant in a local church until it came across a depressed and vengeful Eddie. Eddie Brock lost everything when his lead on a prolific serial killer turned out to be a red herring while Spider-Man caught the real killer. Unable to accept responsibility for his actions, he blamed Spider-Man for ruining his life and desired revenge as he contemplated suicide. His hatred of Spider-Man was so potent that it awakened the symbiote and the kindred spirits created something unlike any foe Spider-Man had ever faced. After battling Spider-Man more than once, Venom eventually agreed to a truce and moved to San Francisco where he appointed himself the city’s lethal protector dispensing his own unique form of justice. Even though the film apparently finds a way to establish Brock and the events that help to create Venom, Spider-Man’s absence is noticeable primarily to comic book fans but does not derail the film and its direction so far.
This version of Venom appears to take inspiration from that chapter in the character’s history with the new villain responsible for its creation being the Life Foundation and its leader Carlton Drake played by Riz Ahmed. The trailer’s dialogue appears in line with the Life Foundation in the comics and their motivation to prepare the world for the upcoming Armageddon but here they believe that the newly discovered symbiotes are not only mankind’s savior but also the next step in human evolution. Stating the film took inspiration from horror directors like David Cronenberg and John Carpenter, there appears to be all manner of gruesome transformations and deaths as the symbiotes are here and ready to play. Brock’s investigation into the Life Foundation and their experiments will put him on the path to becoming Venom and like any new superpowers, there is the learning curve and definition of the character. Exploring abilities of Venom that were established later in the creature’s continuity, we can see Eddie wrestle out loud with the symbiote about what it is and what their partnership will represent. Fans will cheer at Venom’s debate about what of his enemies’ body parts he’ll eat or his monologue full of threats to a robber of a local business because it reinforces that this character is no Captain America or even the Punisher. Fleischer has promised that this film will open the door to a bigger world referencing the Symbiote Home World and the fact that one of the film’s villains will be the symbiote dubbed Riot. In the comics, Riot was one of the five symbiotes extracted from Venom to be soldiers for the Life Foundation and Riot’s special ability was that it could easily transfer from host to host meaning it could be anybody. As seen in the trailer, Riot commits more than a few atrocities and apparently it will bond with Drake leading to a climatic battle near the end of the film. With Michelle Williams playing Eddie’s DA girlfriend Anne Weyving and rumors that Cletus Cassady aka the man who would become Carnage may make an appearance, it would appear other symbiotes and characters could show up in Venom’s future should the film be successful.
In the comics, Venom’s warped perception is that he is the hero while Spider-Man is the villain. In the trailer we can see Eddie accepting that while these powers are dangerous, its not completely awful suggesting he’s beginning to accept his role as judge, jury and executioner. While the absence of Spider-Man begs the question that without him does Venom have a chance of being a good movie, its important to remember that with the right cast, crew, and script any movie has the potential to be great regardless of a character’s previous portrayals. Despite any flaws that people may fuss and nitpick over, this trailer shows us a fuller and more comprehensive trailer of the movie as a whole than the previous trailers. The movie could be great, it could be okay or it could be awful but that’s the gamble you make every time you sit down in that movie theater. After what I’ve seen, I’m willing to give this Venom a chance and maybe you should too.