I gotta be honest, given the early word of mouth about this movie, I was expecting a dumpster fire. I was pretty disappointed to see that I enjoyed the film. For years, Sony has tried to create their own superhero universe with the Spiderman rogues gallery, the only Marvel property they still have a stake in. Unfortunately, since they are bad at everything, this has led to some pretty rotten ideas from Sony including at one point planning on an Aunt May movie…
Whether the standalone Marvel Sony universe has any legs is a different question for a different day. For now, we get a solo Venom movie starring Tom Hardy which doesn’t have anything to do with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so if you were one of the people who are upset that this doesn’t feel like a Disney film, what the hell were you expecting?
Venom begins NOT set in New York City but on the west coast of San Francisco. After a transport ship crashes on Earth, Carlton Drake of the Life Foundation is discovered to have brought alien life forms called symbiotes from space in trying to bond them with humans to prepare humanity for the collapse of the planet. Investigative journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) arranges an interview with Drake through his girlfriend Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), who is a lawyer for the company. Eddie oversees some confidential e-mails exposing the company is using homeless people as human subjects. This backfires, however as Eddie is fired for his conduct and ends up ruining his relationship with his fiancée. Completely down on his luck, Brock gets a tip about more Life Foundation experiments and looks to collect evidence, what he gets is more than he bargains for because one of the symbiotes attaches to him turning him into a killing machine.
I think the biggest problem with this film is the pacing, mostly because the film is played pretty straight and serious in the 1st act and then when ‘Venom’ is introduced, the film takes a more light-hearted and comedic tone. I understand people having a problem with this, but I can’t knock it too hard because there isn’t a great way to do that without introducing Venom right off the bat. The villain was pretty obnoxious as well, how many villains who try to doom humanity in the name of fighting climate change are we going to get this year?
Outside of that, I really don’t see much issue here. Venom touts some great acting in a superhero film, credit going to the Hardy, Williams, and Jenny Slate who are outstanding. Hardy’s performance is entertaining in how he bounces from scummy field reporter to ‘infected’ with the symbiote. The action scenes are creative and the style of the film is fresh in a world where we are two stops away from complete superhero fatigue (if we aren’t there already). The relationship between Eddie and Venom is set up in a way where I would actually like to see them together in another movie. Sure, our friendly neighborhood Spiderman is not involved in this film, but he doesn’t need to be in this story for the sake of fanservice and a cheap pop *cough* MCU *cough*
When it was all said and done, I had a very enjoyable experience with Venom and I think audiences will too. Whether this is a beginning of a successful Spiderman based universe…probably not but Venom provides a welcome change to an overcrowded Superhero genre.