There’s always a specific movie scene I think of when someone or something finally, after many failures, starts doing something right – earning some goodwill along the way – then once one small sign of success is noticeable, the new plan is immediately scrapped and that someone goes back to the same old bad habits.
(Before I get too long-winded with this analogy, I’m going to point out this piece is about the proposed movie about the Spider-Man villain, Venom. I do not think it’s the greatest of ideas. But bear with me because I swear I have a point here.)
Anyway, the scene is in WarGames, near the end when the computer, Joshua, wouldn’t respond to any commands to deactivate the nuclear warheads. Finally, David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) suggests playing Tic-Tac-Toe. John Wood and Allie Sheedy both look optimistic! Joshua responds by bringing up a Tic-Tac-Toe board. Okay, they are on the right track of stopping nuclear annihilation! This is good! But then McKittrick (Dabney Coleman, who is always great) instead orders Joshua to disarm the missiles. Ugh, you fool! We were all making progress and you just went back to the thing that wasn’t working. The look on David Lightman’s face says it all as he dejectedly says, “No … no.” Then everyone has to stand around and wait while the nitwits proceed wasting everyone’s time. And then they get this error screen while a terrible buzzing sound let’s them know how wrong they all are:
Anyway, this is how I feel about a Venom movie.
Sony has been making Spider-Man movies for 15 years now – and at first they were pretty good at it. But then Venom came along and kind of ruined Spider-Man 3 because its director, Sam Raimi, famously didn’t want anything to do with Venom and had it forced on him. Surprise! If a director doesn’t like a character, getting a nuanced, introspective look at said character probably isn’t going to happen.
Then we got the two Amazing Spider-Man movies, which I think will be looked back on as some weird anomaly – these two movies people never liked that much, sandwiched in-between the Raimi series and the official Marvel Cinematic Universe series. I almost feel bad for them. Who is ever going to be like, “Let’s watch The Amazing Spider-Man 2 because I love Electro?” I predict 20 years from now there will be an internet post that’s titled, “Did you know there are two Spider-Man movies starring President Andrew Garfield?” (Before you send me tweets, Garfield was born in California so this is in play. And I think it would be great to have a second Garfield president.)
So, yes, after those two movies, Sony teamed up with Marvel Studios to add a brand new Spider-Man to the MCU and wasted no time in getting Tom Holland’s Spidey into Captain America: Civil War and it was so much fun. I honestly thought I’d never get to see Spider-Man in a movie with all these other characters. And now Spider-Man: Homecoming comes out later this year and everyone is excited because Iron Man is also in the movie. So, now, someone has decided, “Oh, we are getting good press for our new Spider-Man. Okay, while we’re at it, let’s make a Venom movie.”
“No … no.”
The worst thing about this is, from reports, it wouldn’t be related to the MCU or the new Spider-Man. And of course it’s not because the MCU is planned out years in advance and Marvel isn’t about to risk their almost perfectly curated franchise (this can be debated, but it’s hard to argue against its success at this point) with a movie about Venom.
I get that Sony spends a lot of money to pay for Spider-Man, but in truth they have one main character and they are still trying to create a “universe” around that character out of all that character’s peripheral friends. They’ve been talking about this for years – before it was a Sinister Six movie. But what makes this worse is now they are going to create a “universe” that doesn’t even include Spider-Man. So it’s just Venom, hanging out, talking about how he’d love to have a protagonist in his movie.
Honestly, this is like having the rights to Lando Calrissian, but you’ve given Lando back to Lucasfilm so you’re left with Lobot, some Ugnaughts, and a team of security guards. And then you look at what you’re paying and decide, “Egads, that’s a lot of money, we should probably start production on that Lobot movie. Also, let’s make an Ugnaughts movie, too.” Who am I kidding? I’d totally watch a Lobot movie. And Greg Mottola should make it because he’s been tweeting about it for four years.
Hey @Disney, Star Wars standalone pitch: Lobot origin story? I’m available.
— greg mottola (@gregmottola) February 7, 2013 )
And all of this will wind up being confusing. Fox can kind of, sort of get away with it at this point with their Marvel movies because everyone has given up trying to figure out how they all fit in together. And Fox has a legitimate stable of characters – to the point I don’t care if Marvel ever gets the X-Men back. At this point, adding the X-Men to the MCU’s already large contingent of characters just seems too overwhelming. And a lot of the X-Men movies have been good. But now Sony is looking at what Fox did with the R-rated Logan and Deadpool and are wondering why they can’t get a slice of that pie with an R-rated Venom movie.
Well, you probably can’t because you have one main character! And he’s gone! But, yet, here we are trying to deactivate the warheads anyway. Look, it could turn out Venom is a good movie! Of course it can. But this just seems more like lessons that haven’t been learned. And, most likely, we’re going to be staring at this screen again:
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