Sunday, March 6, 2016

Has Sony Lost Its Mind... Again???

Image Courtesy
Do you remember just how stupid all the Spider-Man plans that came out of the Sony hack sounded last year?  Among other things they were trying to set up a Black Cat spinoff movie, Venom, Sinister Six, and even an Aunt May prequel!  Now, none of those ideas sound crazy in and of themselves (aside from the last one, that is), but with the number of heroes under Sony’s control (one) they just would not have all worked as part of a straight-up movie series.  And there’s really no denying that.

Fortunately, Sony finally figured out that they couldn’t do everything on their own last year and made a deal to include Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  I remember when that news broke I assumed that this meant that Sony had fully wised up and was done wasting money on Spider-Man movies that would only damage poor Peter Parker’s reputation.

Unfortunately, it turns out that that just plain was not the case.  Sony is at it again, but this time instead of doing it with Spider-Man they’re going to try it with Venom.  According to the report, Sony is reviving that previously-announced Venom spinoff, which will not be connected to the Spider-Man reboot which Sony and Marvel are co-producing as part of the MCU.  In case you missed it the first time, let me just repeat that:


Now, in Sony’s defense, the gritty R-rated antihero comic book movie is suddenly the Next Big Thing™ in Hollywood’s fascination with Cinematic Universe-Building™.  And if there’s one thing we’ve learned about Sony from their TASM2 debacle, it’s that Sony likes to bandwagon off of whatever’s popular at the moment.  So of course after Deadpool made absolute BANK in its first few weeks of release, FOX announced an R-rated Wolverine 3, and Warner Bros. announced an R-rated home release of Batman v. Superman, Sony decided to make a (presumably) R-rated comic book movie of its own.  “Bandwagon’s gonna Bandwagon,” amiright?

Image Courtesy
And in all honesty, an R-rated Venom makes a ton of sense, just like an R-rated (in essence if not in rating) Daredevil season 2 in which Daredevil, Punisher, and Elektra all face off against each other makes a ton of sense.  Venom is a much darker version of Spider-Man who fights crime (occasionally) but takes his battles to the extreme.  While bonded with Peter Parker, the Venom symbiote causes him to undergo extreme personality changes which lead to him not just stopping villains but murdering them (and the occasional bout of emo-dancing.  *shudders*).  To try to make a Venom movie without the violence would be a very difficult undertaking and could very easily blow up in a filmmaker’s face.

In other words, an R-rated Venom movie is not in and of itself a bad thing.  But an R-rated Venom movie completely divorced from Spider-Man (and the MCU) IS.

Frankly, I don’t want to watch Venom without Spider-Man—or at least without any chance of interaction between the two.  What really makes the character interesting is the shared history between him and Spider-Man.  Venom is originally introduced as an alternative costume which Peter Parker donned during the Battleworld event, but which he later discovered to be a sentient being attempting to take over his body.  In bonding with Venom, Spider-Man transferred a copy of his own powers to the symbiote—which means that Venom is one of the few villains against whom Spider-Man’s “Spidey-sense” doesn’t warn him.  When Venom eventually starts to reform by fighting Carnage and then becoming a vigilante, it is thanks in part to Spider-Man’s influence.

Image Courtesy
Simply put, the two need to share screen time if this Venom will succeed.

So having said all of this, what do I think that Sony needs to do with this movie if it is going to succeed?


If this Venom movie is going to succeed, it has to be part of the MCU and Tom Holland’s Peter Parker has to make at least something of an appearance.  The first movie doesn’t necessarily need to show Venom bonding with Spider-Man, but that should definitely be set up to happen in his next appearance.

All the way back in June I wrote an article about how some of the rumored Spider-Man spinoffs could fit within the MCU, and Venom was right up at the top of the list.  I quoted the film cycle I suggested in yesterday’s MCU Review, so I won’t do that again.  Instead, I will give some updated thoughts on how this Venom-related film cycle could fit into the MCU.

First off, I would start with a very small cameo/Easter egg of the Venom symbiote in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  Either a symbiote in a glass tube in the Collector’s collection or a quick glimpse of a Nova Corps record of the “Planet of the Symbiotes” would be enough to establish that Venom does exist in the MCU and set up the Venom movie.

Image Courtesy

As a follow-up to this initial Easter egg, Sony would then produce a Venom movie—which may even be very similar to their current plan (but within the Marvel Universe, guys!).  In this movie, the Venom symbiote finds itself on Earth somehow, sees Spider-Man in action, and bonds its way through the street-level heroes of the MCU.  We may see Venom bond with Daredevil, Punisher, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist in turn, but abandon each new host as a more-powerful host comes along, eventually bonding with Spider-Man himself near the end of the movie.

In this way we get to see Venom’s corrupting ability (which would be terrifying when mixed with the Punisher!) at work, but the focus of this movie is really on the symbiote itself, rather than its hosts.  In essence, this would be a take on the horror genre and make use of many possession tropes as both regular people and heroes discover that they are no longer behaving like themselves.  The ending of this movie—Spider-Man discovering and bonding with the symbiote—would set up the next Spider-Man movie.

Image Courtesy
Spider-Man: Symbiotic Nightmare

At this point Venom moves over into the rebooted Spider-Man franchise as Peter Parker (the Tom Holland version) continues his heroic career while bonded with the Venom symbiote.  This gives us an interesting dynamic as Peter Parker discovers that Venom enhances his abilities greatly while Venom discovers something in Peter that he found lacking in his previous hosts.  The two make a good crime fighting team for the first part of the movie, but Peter eventually realizes that Venom is causing him to behave in ways that are antithetical to his nature:  Venom is making him far more bloodthirsty than he has ever been in the past.

Though this movie would probably stick with a PG-13 rating (it is Spider-Man, after all), I think that would actually work well as Peter fights to restrain Venom’s bloodlust.  The final act of this movie would be rather similar to the scene from Spider-Man 3, as Peter fights to rid himself of the symbiote and finally discards him, only for Eddie Brock to discover and bond with it instead.

Image Courtesy
Venom vs. Carnage

The third movie in this cycle, Venom vs. Carnage, would spell a significant change in Venom’s character.  You see, up until this time he has bonded with heroes, but now he is bonded to a villain.  The first act or so of this movie would have Eddie Brock (as Venom) going on a crime spree across New York City, complete with murder, robbery, and the works.  Interspersed with the crime, however, Brock/Venom would also find himself inexplicably stopping muggers—the influence of those heroes on the symbiote.  However, Venom is arrested by a special police task force (alongside Spider-Man), and placed in prison, where Eddie Brock shares a cell with Cletus Kasady.  The Venom symbiote manages to worm its way into their cell, where it bonds with Brock and breaks out of prison, leaving behind its “offspring,” Carnage, which bonds with Kasady.

Now Brock/Venom is on the run from the police, but he learns of another symbiote which is engaging in a killing spree ten times worse than anything he ever did.  Venom must find Spider-Man and convince him to help him stop Carnage.  Spider-Man, Venom, and a group of street-level heroes (maybe Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, and Black Cat) team up to defeat Carnage.  The movie ends with both Venom and Carnage placed into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, Brock granted parole for his part in stopping Carnage, and Kasady locked up in prison again.

A Venom vs. Carnage movie would have to go with an R-rating—and could get away with it.  Here we would see the difference between someone like Spider-Man who fights against the symbiote’s corrupting nature and Eddie Brock or Cletus Kasady who embraces and fuels its corrupting nature.  And at the same time Venom is given a compelling reason to change its attitude and fight for good against the evil which it itself created.

Image Courtesy
Agent Venom

The final movie I envision in this cycle is Agent Venom, in which Venom finds its final (and best) host.  The movie begins with a quick montage of many of Spider-Man’s earliest fights, ending with the reveal that these are Flash Thompson’s memories of his high school hero in action, all leading into his decision to enlist in the Army.  The remainder of the movie’s first act shows Flash going through boot camp and engaging in a few missions, through all of which he is inspired by Spider-Man’s heroics.  However, his final mission ends with both his legs being amputated due to injuries he sustained in battle while rescuing his squad mates.  From here it flashes into the present, where Flash tells Director Coulson (or whoever the S.H.I.E.L.D. Director is by this point) that all he has ever wanted is to be like his hero, Spider-Man, even if it cost him his legs.  Coulson then responds, “If you think you’re up to it, I think we can help you with that,” before Flash is strapped to an operating table where black fluid is poured over him.  The fluid (Venom) immediately bonds with him, covers him in the suit, and regrows his legs.

Flash then engages in a few training exercises with S.H.I.E.L.D. which show that he has the ability to control and restrain the symbiote’s innate bloodlust, though he still struggles with it.  S.H.I.E.L.D. eventually decides to send “Agent Venom” on a real mission in New York City, which brings him into contact with Spider-Man.  Flash fanboys over Spidey a little, but Spider-Man is hesitant to work with his former enemy/accessory until he discovers that Flash has sufficient willpower to restrain Venom.  After their mission, Spider-Man and Agent Venom agree to work together in the future.

By the end of this cycle of movies, Venom would have undergone some dramatic character development and have distinguished itself from its hosts in how it affects them and how they affect it.  From here Venom (Agent Venom) can continue to make appearances as an antihero who fights alongside Spider-Man in either Spider-Man or Venom solo films and could also become a member of an Avengers team down the line.

So there’s how I see Venom fitting into the MCU in an interesting and compelling way, something that I just do not think Sony can accomplish without from Spider-Man himself and disconnected from the MCU.  If Sony tries to turn Venom into his own series unrelated to Spider-Man, they will not succeed in anything other than devaluing the character further and then needing to go crawling to Marvel to help them salvage Venom as much as they can.

Image Courtesy
Conversely, while Spider-Man can stand just fine on his own without Venom, I do think that Venom makes for an interesting foil to Spider-Man.  Both characters have similar abilities, and both are capable of great good.  What distinguishes them (aside from Venom’s rather bloodthirsty personality) is what they do with their powers.  Even though Eddie Brock is capable of doing good things while wearing the Venom symbiote, it is not until it bonds with Flash Thompson that it is finally able to maximize its hero potential.  This dynamic would be sorely missing if Spider-Man were unable to interact with Venom in the MCU.

So, should Sony produce a Venom movie?  Yes, but Tom Holland had better make a cameo and Kevin Feige had better be an executive producer!

Do you want to see Sony produce a Venom movie?  Do you want to see Venom as part of the MCU?  Let me know in the comments!

If you want to get an email whenever I publish a new article, go to the top of the page and enter your email address in the box labeled “Subscribe to Mostly MCU Reviews” and click “Submit.”

1 comment:

  1. I think that this development is merely a sop to Avi Arad after he was ousted from the upcoming Spider-Man movies. I don't care about this, just as long as Marvel Studios are permitted by Sony to do their own MCU-specific version. If Sony are going to add caveats to the deal with Marvel and embargo certain characters... well, that just sucks.