Venom gets his own movie, but without Spider-Man what’s the point?

The trailer for Tom Hardy's villainous Spidey spinoff is the subject of our latest Superhero Nonsense column


The new Venom trailer is out, and while everyone is talking about Tom Hardy’s latest fun new accent I’m more concerned with the whole idea of a Venom movie.

And sure, I know the time to bring this up was back around The Amazing Spider-Man 2, when Sony tried to set up the whole Sinister Six thing, but I did exactly that and no one listened and now we have a Venom movie.

For those of you who don’t know who Venom is, he’s the anti-Spider-Man – the result of an alien symbiote who briefly bonded with Peter Parker before being rejected for reasons of general evil, which then fused itself to Peter’s rival Eddie Brock, who was far more receptive to the symbiote’s interests in chaos and murder. The character was previously brought to the screen by Topher Grace and a whole lot of black goo in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, which no one likes to talk about these days.

Venom is a Spider-Man villain, so the idea of building an entire movie around the character without an appearance by Spider-Man – who’s off doing sanctioned Marvel stuff these days, like (dis)appearing in Avengers: Infinity War – seems a little risky, right? But Sony, which licensed the Spider-Man character set a decade before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a glimmer in Kevin Feige’s eye, has long planned to develop Spidey spinoffs in order to retain that license. Superhero movies are a license to print money nowadays, and surely if you assemble half a dozen talented people and give them a decent visual effects budget you’ll get a return on your investment.

Tom Hardy is certainly talented, though I’m much more intrigued by the casting of Michelle Williams and Jenny Slate in supporting roles, even if Slate’s playing someone with a serious mispronunciation problem. And after Zombieland and Gangster Squad, it’s safe to say director Ruben Fleischer knows his way around a winking action sequence. It’ll probably be better than Suicide Squad. But… it’s still a Venom movie. Without Spider-Man. What’s even the point?

We are at a place in popular culture where every beloved (and not-so-beloved) 90s property, no matter how flimsy, is getting rebooted or relaunched, so I guess this was inevitable. And Venom is probably a better place to start the Spidey-spinoffs than whatever Sony’s original idea was. (Really, Paul Giamatti just looked so unhappy as the Rhino.)

Honestly, though? I’m still surprised we didn’t get an Alpha Flight movie first. Just the tax benefits of shooting it in Montreal should have made that project a no-brainer, and I’m sure Xavier Dolan would be happy to direct it.

But I already told you: no one listens to me.

normw@nowtoronto.com | @normwilner

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