The inherent difficulty in making a movie that centers on Venom is that most people probably know Venom as a Spider-Man villain. So here’s a movie where we have Venom as the star of the show, biting off heads and doing all the things that Venom does, but now he’s kinda-sorta the good guy and there’s no Spider-Man to be found. (The film’s San Francisco setting, as opposed to New York, quickly lets the viewer know we shouldn’t be expecting any Spider-Man cameos, let alone even a mention.)
Director Ruben Fleischer, best known for directing the 2009 hit Zombieland (and its upcoming sequel) brings Venom back to the big screen for the first time since Sam Raimi’s effort back in 2007’s Spider-Man 3. (Rami has made it clear he’s not the biggest Venom fan.) Playing both Venom and his human host, Eddie Brock, is Tom Hardy who brings a…let’s call it unpredictability to the role. Here we have Venom, what is ostensibly a darker superhero movie about an alien who bites people’s heads off, but then here’s Hardy, putting on a manic comedy show – at one point jumping into a live lobster tank to start chowing down on lobsters. (As Fleischer says ahead, that was all a Tom Hardy improvisation.)
Ahead, Fleischer takes us through the challenges of making a movie about Venom, the often unpredictability of Tom Hardy’s vision for the character, and why Venom takes its cues from a lot of ’80s buddy comedies, including, surprisingly, the Steve Martin/Lily Tomlin film, All of Me.
(WARNING: Minor Venom spoilers ahead.)
I’ve never seen a superhero movie like this before.
I’ll take that as a compliment.
I’m serious. This is very unique.
Marvel has their world that’s so clearly defined. And DC has their own aesthetic. And for this, maybe, I really wanted to distinguish our film from other things. And with Tom Hardy playing that character, I think that really sets the tone and the style of the film. The world in which it takes place, we wanted to feel very grounded and of reality, not a heightened world, but real-life San Francisco – where this journalist unexpectedly goes through a transformation that results in a larger-than-life experience.
Is that’s why it’s set in San Francisco? So the viewer isn’t thinking about when Spider-Man is going to show up?
Yeah. And the comics, I think, led the way for us, because they actively made that same choice. Once Venom and Spider-Man came to a truce, Eddie returned to San Francisco. And in that, Eddie and Venom make San Francisco their new home and are dealing with this homeless mystery that’s taking place there. I think they actively did the same thing by wanting to separate Venom and Spiderman, and so we followed their lead.