Even as Sony’s new Venom movie enters production, nobody seems really all that sure what this movie will be like.
Heck, Sony don’t seem to know themselves. Every communication from executive Amy Pascal seems to contradict the previous one. This is going to be dark, brooding, funny, comical, R-rated, PG-13, an extension of Spider-Man: Homecoming, its own separate movie, tied to the MCU, and in a completely different continuity.
There’s no clear game plan here, which is why a picture of Tom Hardy on the set of Venom fills anyone who’s been following this film with dread.
— Venom Movie (@VenomMovie) October 24, 2017
This is meant to be a big tentpole blockbuster next year. In theory, it’s less than a year from theaters (although as is clear, Sony doesn’t have a solid plan in mind), but as filming gets under way after a suspiciously short pre-production period, all we really know is that Tom Hardy is Venom, and that Sony’s executives are hoping that this will be better received than The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
There’s a danger in Hollywood at the moment – most specifically at Sony, but also felt elsewhere – that studios have been greenlighting comic book movies solely because they’re based on comics.
This has been going for a while. Cowboys and Aliens is technically a comic book movie, for example, even though nobody ever actually asked for that film.
Considering that Sony managed to hang an entire film on emojis this summer, it’s not surprising that they’re trying to build something hollow and vapid around the general concept of an evil Spider-Man.
The problem is, movies need more than just brand appeal in order to resonate with audiences.
This is why it’s so worrying that we haven’t actually heard any of the details of the Venom movie. Sony has a habit of trying to spin a three word pitch (for example, “an Emoji movie” or “Spider-Man but evil”) into a two hour film, and it never tends to end well.
This isn’t to say that a good film can’t be made in secrecy – we knew almost nothing about Fox’s Logan until it was released, and that turned out amazing.
Sony’s track record, though, doesn’t lend itself to feel deserving of the benefit of the doubt. The burden of proof is on Sony to actually show that they can make something worthwhile.
With the superhero genre now arguably in decline as other studios diversify their comic book offerings to include space, horror, and cowboys, it’s hard to imagine that this late addition to the genre can possibly present anything original while still trying to stick to the broadest possible audience demographic.
So be sure to keep a close eye on Venom as the movie’s filming continues.
With any luck, we might just catch a glimpse of something – anything – that would make the film worth watching.