For the better part of a decade, Sony — who now shares the Spider-Man film rights with Marvel Studios — has tried to make a stand-alone Venom movie happen.Â And for the better part of a decade, they’ve failed miserably at doing so.
Venom, as Spidey fans are well aware, is one of the web-slinger’s most iconic villains.Â It is an alien symbiote that infects its victims, amplifies their powers and transforms them into a darker, violent version of their former self.Â Although Peter Parker was able to shake the parasitic alien, it found a new host with Eddie Brock: a disgruntled reporter at the Daily Bugle with a serious grudge against his friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
After bonding with Brock, it took the name Venom and had amped up versions of all of Spider-Man’s powers.Â With its intimate knowledge of Parker’s private life, untampered hatred for him and newfound superpowers, Venom made a point to become a major nuisance in its nemesis’ life.
Eventually, though, Venom cleaned up its act.Â It found a new host with Flash Thompson and took to the stars, most recently teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy (something that I desperately want to happen in the Guardian movies).
Fans, however, still fondly remember Venom as Spider-Man’s most intimate enemy.Â And with its endless marketability and legions of fans, Sony has tried, and failed, to make him work for as long as there have been Spider-Man movies.
Venom’s first big-screen appearance was in the infamous Spider-Man 3: a movie so terrible that it single-handedly killed the franchise, forcing Sony to reboot it five years later with The Amazing Spider-Man.Â The horrendously mid-cast Topher Grace was originally scheduled to reprise the role in a follow-up solo movie, but those plans were scrapped when they rebooted the franchise.Â The intention then became to introduce Venom in the Sinister Six movie that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 set-up, followed by a solo movie, but those plans were killed when Sony gave Spider-Man back to Marvel.
Now, however, Sony’s at it again.Â Since they co-own the Spider-Man movie rights, they can make their own movies with the characters independent of whatever Marvel’s doing with them.Â And their first big plan is to make Venom a major film franchise.
The movie is supposedly going to be rated R and feature Venom as an anti-hero, presumably after he’s worked out his differences with Spidey and moved on to bigger and better things.Â The writers for the movie Life, which came out earlier this year, had previously worked on a Venom treatment for the studio and have expressed interest in retroactively making that movie a Venom prequel (literally the worst idea they could run with for either movie).
News has surfaced, however, that the project has acquired some key talent in the form of a leading man and director.Â Tom Hardy — best known as Max from Mad Max: Fury Road, Eames in Inception and Bane in The Dark Knight Rises — is set to play Eddie Brock.Â Ruben Fleischer — best known for comedies like Zombieland — is set to direct.
Despite loving everything Spider-Man, Sony’s fixation on this particular aspect of the franchise — not to mention their previous treatment of it — has proven to be tiresome, to say the least.Â But with casting this perfect, I find it hard not to get excited.Â Hardy is an exceptional actor with tremendous physical presence on the screen: perfect for the muscular and dominating Eddie Brock / Venom.Â Fleischer knows his way around dark films, but his history with comedy suggests that the movie might not be so utterly cheerless (a problem Sony has had with the franchise before).
In the hands of Sony, Venom still has a long, up-hill climb to being watchable.Â Their recent track record with movies in general and this franchise in particular leaves a lot to be desired, especially when they’re this desperate for a hit.Â But if they keep making smart choices like this, I’ll be happy enough to shell out my $10 for a seat opening night.