Da7e Gonzales is a blogger, writer, pop culture nut, lo-fi music hobbyist, producer, columnist, narcissistic, shut in, quad-Post-Modern Hipster (PoPoPo-Po-Mo).
He currently works at MTV's 16 & Pregnant, Teens Mom 1, 2 and 3, writes at LatinoReview.com, podcasts weekly at FightingInTheWarRoom.com, produces at Legend Of Korra Podcast at RepublicCityDispatch.com and produces independent film projects when he can.
They want to give the director of Chronicle (Josh Trank. He’s 27 and makes me feel like I haven’t done anything with my life. And, hell, I’ve made a few movies and things, but still) a crack at a stand alone Venom film.
Which is kind of a horrible idea.
If you know anything about Venom, you know that he’s one of those characters - almost at Superman level - that has trouble functioning outside of his initial context. For Superman, that context was the first half of the 1900s when he could leap tall buildings in a single bound and punch Hitler and what have you. For Venom, he’ll forever be stuck in the 1980s: always misanthropic despite whomever it’s possessing, a need to kill that became part of the character, not referring to himself in the first person, etc.
VENOM IS LIKE TRICKLE DOWN REAGANOMICS - SAYING HE “WORKS” DOES NOT MAKE HIM WORK.
Spitball with me here.
Venom is two entities: Eddie Brock, who hates Spider-Man and Venom, a living Spider-Man costume. Yes, that’s sort of reductive, but I’m convinced there was not anymore planning to the character than that.
A good argument can be made as to Eddie Brock being a useful character in the Spider-Man universe. A sort of anti-Peter Parker with his reverse luck can be valuable, especially when Peter needs a counter-point in whatever story is being told. The argument for Brock’s worthiness as a villain is made pretty well HERE.
Venom, however, is just an alien. It’s pretty powerless - or started out that way. The original Venom story had Eddie Brock working out like a bastard to gain muscle mass before bonding with the symbiote. The only powers the symbiote brings are the powers of Spider-Man; it’s first host. So that’s increased strength, agility, wall-sticking and webs (inexplicably, because Spidey’s webs aren’t organic).
The character was created at a thematically dark time in comics - the 80s - when everyone was obsessed with making it an “adult medium” by making mainstream comics bleaker with weirder hair, tons of anti-heroes and lots of rape (I mean, not in Spider-Man, but, like 80s comics). Venom was made at this time to be a mirror image version of Spider-Man that could help drag Spidey and Parker down the depressing hole that was the mood of most comics in the mid-to-late 80s. Once that period was over, Marvel was left with an villain that they confused with an anti-hero.
But - like I said, Venom is like Reaganomics, and like Reganomics it keeps trying the same tricks but in different guises.
The abilities of Venom have since been multiplied in an attempt to make him interesting (Wikipedia) :
“Though it requires a living host in order to survive, the Venom Symbiote has been shown to be adept at fending for itself independent of a host. The Symbiote is capable of shapeshifting abilities, including the ability to form spikes or expand its size, as well as mimic the appearance of other humanoids after it has obtained a host. The organism can additionally use its shape-shifting abilities to conceal itself by altering its coloration or by becoming completely invisible. It also contains a small “dimensional aperture,” allowing its hosts to carry items without adding mass to the costume. The Symbiote also exhibits telepathic abilities, primarily when it needs to communicate with its host.”
Its only weaknesses are sonic blasts and fire…Unless you’re Anti-Venom (Oh Lord, let’s pretend I didn’t go there and keep moving on).
So here’s the core problem: Venom is an adversary, he always has been. Venom doesn’t work on his own because the character has never been put in a situation where he has realistic goals that apply to both the human and the symbiote. The only tension that can exist in early Venom stories is: Venom wants to kill Spider-Man, does the host want to kill Spider-Man?
I swear, if I read “Fight it, Eddie!” in another word balloon, I’m going to puke in my mouth.
Recognizing this problem, Marvel writer David Michelinie created Carnage, another symbiote, but this one bonded with a much crazier person than Eddie Brock. Carnage was created to give Venom some sort of fatherly responsibility, which makes total sense in an attempt to give the character life, but once again makes the focus of the character on who is opposing it.
Venom is even an adversary to himself regardless of who he is possessing. Every other year, someone does a “Venom is out of control” storyline. It’s gotten to the point where the current incarnation of Venom is owned by the government who lets Flash Thompson (yes, from Peter Parker’s high school) wear it two-hours at a time for special ops missions.
YES - Venom in his current incarnation isn’t even a character, he’s the damn Speed Suits from the first GI: JOE movie.
Venom doesn’t work as a character. He doesn’t. Anything you can do with Venom could have better been done with Spider-Man in almost story beat except one: Venom is a monster.
That’s the only angle that stand-alone Venom stories can take: Venom = Monster. Venom cannot be a protagonist, unless he’s a protagonist like the Cloverfield Monster is a protagonist in his movie. Venom has no goals, Venom is an adversary.
So - if Sony decides to go on a standalone Venom film: the next question we should all ask ourselves is if Spider-Man is in it. If Spider-Man isn’t going to be in Venom’s film, then odds on Carnage go up exponentially.
The best case scenario of Venom as Monster is Shiver, the first storyline from Venom standalone series.
The worst case scenario, luckily, was Spider-Man 3.
Guys, Venom, like Trickle Down Reaganomics just doesn’t work no matter how many rabid fan boys tell you it can.
Venom was never intended to be a stand-alone thing, there are parts of the character, flaws built in, so Venom is adversarial even to itself. It becomes a HUGE problem when the character at the center of your film represents only opposition.
Q: What does Venom want?
A: Spider-Man dead. Beyond that, it’s never been made clear.
So - a character that’s not supposed to work is being given to a director that was not supposed to work. Some may feel that’s fitting.
Me? I’m just seeing Reaganomics, but they’re calling it the 1% now.