Ryan Smythe ‘15 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Comic book movies are caught in a PG-13 loop, where anything rated higher doesn’t reach enough viewers to be considered a “success.” This money-first attitude from studios is what scares me the most about the recently announced Venom movie.
Yes, Sony has released three fantastic Spider-Man movies. Yes, Spider-Man is one of the greatest super heroes out there. Yes, the Amazing Spider-Man universe is thrilling and shows a lot of potential. But Sony’s first shot at nailing Venom turned out like this.
A movie with Venom, whether it is his own or if he is guest-starring, should feature his brutal and relentless aggression towards Spidey. This is not a villain who will toy with Peter Parker in the same way that the Joker toyed with Batman. The only motive that the Symbiote and Eddie Brock have is revenge: for the Symbiote, the revenge is for casting it aside; for Brock, it’s for publicly disgracing everything he worked to achieve.
A very easy way to put that emotion on screen is to allow Venom to completely destroy Spider-Man. If Spidey was going to win this match-up, then he should have been given the movie title as well. It’s not unprecedented for a villain to win in a major motion picture; the Empire won in Empire Strikes Back, the dinosaurs won in Jurassic Park, and Hannibal Lecter won in Silence of the Lambs.
For Venom to truly make his mark on Manhattan, Spidey needs to be introduced at the beginning in a position of power and control. That could be conveyed in several ways. There could be a montage of his victories in the past movies, a series of spinning newspapers with headlines devoted to praising him (and disparaging him as well, of course), or a newly shot sequence with him swinging around the city, easily stopping any crime in his path.
All of this should illustrate the fact that New York City is Spidey’s city. He is completely in control of his powers and is by far the most dominant force. No crime goes unpunished, and his vigilante-style justice has become the stuff of legend. By putting him on the top of the world, it allows for a very long fall.
Once that is established, Venom can be introduced as the nightmare best he is. He is faster, stronger, and more agile than Spidey, which sets up an opportunity for an incredible fight sequence. Just imagine his Spider Sense being pushed to its absolute limits, with this face waiting around every corner.
The other aspect of Spider-Man’s character that should be included in this movie is the vulnerability of his loved ones. The most important reason for hiding his true identity is to protect his Aunt May, his last remaining relative, and Gwen Stacy/Mary Jane Watson, depending on which one he is dating at the time of this movie’s release. Giving Venom the chance to go after them, whether it is to continue his revenge or to bait out a hiding Spidey, would be a powerful plot point for this movie to hit.
Spider-Man may start out the movie cocky and confident in his ability to protect the city, but is torn down by two things that he hurt in his cause to make the world a better place.
The issue with the PG-13 loop is that it restricts certain characters, whether it’s because they are too violent or too crude, to story lines that don’t show the best parts of who they can be. Venom is definitely one of those characters. He is out for blood, and toning down his motives to be more “accessible” is a disservice to the decades of stories he has made legendary.
It’s hard to tell this far in advance how a movie starring a villain will play out, but given that it is going to be written and directed by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, a healthy dose of uneasiness is not unwarranted. They did write Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, after all.
Venom is one of the most fascinating villains in the Marvel universe, embodying everything that Spider-Man is not: violent, animalistic, and unforgiving. Putting him in the hands of the two people who helped create some of the worst adaptations in cinema is a risky thing to do. For the sake of Sony, they need to overcome their shaky past and succeed.