Culture

Venom stinks, but somehow he has a movie

One of Spider-Man’s biggest villains is also one of Marvel’s least interesting characters.

Culture

1988
The year Venom was first introduced in the Marvel Universe.
Culture

Venom stinks, but somehow he has a movie

One of Spider-Man’s biggest villains is also one of Marvel’s least interesting characters.

There are too many superhero movies, broadly speaking, and still more to come, with Marvel and DC throwing all their intellectual property against the wall to see what makes them money. So far, nearly everything has worked — the movies haven’t all been good, but they’ve more or less made a ton of money, which means there’s no reason to slow the gravy train. It isn’t enough to give every superhero their own standalone movie — now, the villains are getting their own films, too.

Today sees the release of a teaser trailer for Venom, which is out this October. Venom, for the uninitiated, is one of Spider-Man’s relatively iconic villains, having become extremely popular in the ’80s and ’90s. He was introduced during the 1984 Secret Wars mini-series, in which Peter Parker encounters a machine that turns his costume black, after which it’s revealed that his costume is not made out of dark threads but an alien symbiote that turns him mean and crazy. (Comics, man.) He abandons the suit, which hops owners to a lunk named Eddie Brock, who transforms into Venom, a big, drooling weirdo who looks like Spider-Man on steroids. He speaks in the third person; he plays creepy psychological games with Peter Parker. He was never that deeply characterized, but he looked really, really awesome on the page — and because comics in this era prioritized extreme action over narrative coherency, he became a big deal.

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Venom, drawn by Todd Macfarlane.

Venom, drawn by Todd Macfarlane.

And now... they’re making a movie about him? It’s weird. Venom has never been introduced in the current Spider-Man movies — currently on their third iteration, for those keeping track — and removing Peter Parker from his origin story would be like taking the flour out of a cake. This being a “teaser trailer,” we don’t get much to go off of. There’s Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, who will eventually be transformed into Venom, struggling on an operating table; there’s Michelle Williams looking serious; there’s a vial of black gunk, presided over by Riz Ahmed. It’s all very cryptic and mysterious, and though you don’t want to read too much into a trailer, totally flat. Ten years ago, when Sam Raimi was still in charge of the Spider-Man franchise, he was given a mandate to incorporate Venom into what would become Spider-Man 3, and resisted for a very long time before giving in. It doesn’t seem like they’ve found a better reason to feature him besides, “Now, he gets a movie.” But if it makes a lot of money, then that’s all the studio needs.