It can be a mess to keep track of, I know. Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was unveiled and has now had his own (awesome) Spider-Man movie in the MCEU, but the rights to Spider-Man and his pantheon remain firmly in Sony’s hands. On Thursday, February 8, Sony unveiled the first teaser trailer for their upcoming Venom flick and I have thoughts.
First, let me give Sony credit for doing the right thing but at the completely wrong time: they didn’t show us Venom. It is a teaser after all. That would be a good way to put the themes, characters and their struggles out front, which the teaser does- sorta. However, these are not normal times.
It’s been over ten years since we saw Venom’s first silver screen appearance, but the internet has a long memory, and I don’t think time has been any kinder to the mishandling of it than the immediate gag reflex we all felt in theaters back in 2007.
Whereas normally it would build some solid hunger for Venom to be revealed, and lead us to gobble up and tear apart the plot and themes that are being promised in the teaser, the lack of Venom in the teaser just makes me say “uh huh, no sale until you show us how the alien dude looks this time.”
So, what’s the story they’re giving us? Aside from screams and other action set piece sound effects (lots of alarms and crashes), we’re treated to a voiceover so trite I’ll just copy it all here:
“Everyone’s got their thing. Maybe it’s a break up, a death, an accident. Whatever it is, you used to be one thing, now you’re something else. We all have our own problems, our own issues, our own demons.”
Okay, I just made note to myself to get after Sony for stealing that from my mid 2000s LiveJournal, but first, that’s not the worst theme- especially not for a story about an alien symbiote prone to bringing out the worst and most aggressive qualities in a person and giving them to super powers to act on all of them.
And there is source material in the comics that make this potentially promising. See, everyone knows the original Venom story: rival reporter Eddie Brock + Spidey’s former symbiote = two in one villain sharing a black goo boner for decorating 5th Avenue with Spider-Man’s entrails.
However, there’s a more interesting version of the Venom story that’s much more recent: crippled war veteran, Flash Thompson, bonds with the symbiote to regain use of his legs and fight for his country again (mostly because he admires Spider-Man so much that he wants to keep being a hero in his own way). The symbiote isn’t very happy being bonded with someone that likes the person it hates so much.
There IS a really interesting story there, especially for today’s audience where Veteran’s rights and care is such a struggle for our country. Between the repeated shots of the hospital (including an x-ray of a spine that looks way too curvy) and Tom Hardy wearing what Hollywood considers the “down on their luck veteran” uniform:
That’s right, a hoodie! In light rain! Why would you wear something so weirdly absorbent in wet weather unless you were truly down and out of luck? Seriously, Hollywood: anytime someone needs to be shown as lower income, or having a rough time emotionally or mentally: nothing visually communicates that like a hoodie- so no need to waste time with a silly thing like writing in character development.
There’s an “old” Hollywood story about how Kevin Feige, for no other reason than pure love of Spider-Man, offered Sony unsolicited notes on The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to try to help them improve it. They categorically ignored just about all of his notes, and we ended up with the film equivalent of a static shock to the taint.
I said this in my Solo: A Star Wars Story breakdown: teasers and trailers are just promises. This teaser isn’t making many promises, except for hospital, inner demons and action. I’m doing a more than is healthy amount of speculation here about what those promises could be, or what I hope they are.
The big issue with the hope above about a thoughtful story about a struggling veteran is this: scant as the details on IMDB are, Tom Hardy is playing Eddie Brock, not Flash Thompson (unless it’s misdirection like Nolan tried to do with Marion Cotillard as Talia Al Ghul). The crash site above seems to have a space shuttle in the background, so it seems like we’re retreading familiar ground with this one. Even if we weren’t: I’m still worried because this is the same studio that gave is Amazing Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man 2.
There is one good, shining, beautiful thing in the teaser though
Nope, not her.
Be still my beating heart. Tom Hardy. It’s not much, but Hardy is a sheer delight, and I think I know why. He has the completely uncommon skill to bring a charming amount of grit where you wouldn’t have realized sheen would’ve been boring, and polish where you didn’t realize there might have otherwise been abrasion.
We don’t have much to go on. Here though in terms of what kind of character Hardy’s Brock is. We see Tom sleep.
We see Tom run,
we see Tom scream,
-but we need to see Tom Venom. We’re all staying on guard until then.
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