The “Venom” Trailer is a Tonally Confused Mess

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Sony)

I can’t say I entirely understand what Sony is trying to do with the Venom movie. This is a shame, considering that we’ve now already had two trailers for the upcoming film.

It shouldn’t be this hard to get a feel for the tone that the movie is aiming for. The trailer literally displays the word “Anti-Hero” part way through, in an effort to unambiguously communicate the dark, edgy, morally gray nature of its protagonist.

The problem is, I’m just not getting that vibe from Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock.

Shouting a lot while infected with a monster doesn’t make someone an anti-hero. If anything, this version of Eddie Brock feels like a very traditional hero.

He’s a journalist who prides himself on exposing bad people. He’s investigating a shadowy organization that’s experimenting on humans against their will.

That’s not an anti-hero. In Hollywood terms, a reporter who’s fighting to expose evil is an archetypal paragon of virtue. Moviemakers like to imagine themselves in the shoes of these kinds of characters so they can pretend that their work in the media industry is somehow altruistic.

Friend or Foe?

Perhaps Sony is hoping that the violent tendencies of the Venom symbiote is enough to make Brock feel edgy and dark, but the way that he’s forcing the symbiote to behave makes him seem even more caring and heroic.

Eddie Brock of the comics isn’t above relishing the power and strength of the Venom suit, despite living by a twisted moral code. The Tom Hardy Eddie Brock seems wholly opposed to using the Venom suit to its full, bloodthirsty potential.

Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock
Source: Sony

I’m not complaining that the character is too likeable – not exactly. I simply feel that, in a movie that’s so clearly designed to be dark, edgy, and morally fraught, making the protagonist an unashamed good guy somewhat distracts from the world the movie is trying to sell.

There are shades of Nic Cage’s “Ghost Rider” in here, with a superhero that is very obviously designed as a dark, brooding monster, but who is totally under the thumb of a milquetoast boy scout.

This is an odd direction to take. It certainly feels like Sony is hoping to borrow from the Flash Thompson version of the character to make their Venom more likeable, but Tom Hardy is just a little too charming in the role, and it’s hard to buy him as a tortured soul.

Perhaps I’ll have to wait until the movie’s here before I’ll be able to grasp the full picture of what Sony is trying to achieve.