New Line was the first studio to option the rights to “Venom,” and it’s always confused me deeply to imagine a film in which you only have the Venom character without Spider-Man. Sony had to eventually buy the rights to the character so they could incorporate him into their “Spider-Man” series, and I would argue that their intense desire to force the fan-favorite character into the third film despite Sam Raimi’s misgivings is one of the reasons that film does not work.
Raimi had no real desire to do anything with Venom, and I understand why. Venom is the sort of character that serves as a dividing line for comic book fans. I find that it’s basically all about how old you were when they started publishing Venom stories. I was getting out of comic collecting right around the time the age of Todd McFarlane began, and I didn’t really care for where the comic industry was heading at that time. I don’t feel superior to fans who grew up with Venom as a cornerstone of what they loved about Spider-Man, though. I just don’t agree with them.
But even as a non-fan, I recognize that Venom has to have Spider-Man to make sense. He is, after all, quite literally made of the same stuff as Spider-Man, part of him, and casting him in a movie by himself is like making a movie just called “The Joker.”
Wait… that might be awesome. Forget that comparison.
Josh Trank made an impressive debut with “Chronicle,” so it doesn’t surprise me that he’s on a lot of wish lists suddenly. It saddens me a bit that right away, Hollywood’s working to put him in that “comic book movie” box, though. I think the reason “Chronicle” was good wasn’t because Trank is clever about how he shoots effects, although he is. It was good because there was something authentically felt about the teenage characters, something real in their behavior, and because he and Max Landis seemed to genuinely care about the young characters they created. I hope that if Trank does make this film, he makes it because it’s something he’s passionate about, and not just because they offer him the right deal. He’s got real potential as a director, and honestly, “Venom” sounds like it would be very similar to “Chronicle,” a look at a character twisted by power and hard to stop. I’d like to see him expand his range, not get boxed in with his second film.
Right now, this all sounds like a development deal in search of a greenlight, so it’s still early. But I think even attaching his name to the project speaks volumes about the way Hollywood swallows and digests new talent.
My real question now is will this somehow be tied to “The Amazing Spider-Man” and its new continuity, or will it be something unrelated? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.