Sony Still has Eight Months to Win People Over with ‘Venom’

If you’re wondering how most fans felt about the Venom teaser trailer, please see the image above. 

Comic book fans and Spider-Man fanboys alike have clamored to see the web-slinging wallcrawler fight his arch-nemesis, Venom, alias Eddie Brock, in a blockbuster film. The character made his debut on the big screen with Spider-Man 3 in 2007 to excitement and anticipation from die-hard fans, only to receive crushing disappointment in both Topher Grace’s performance and the lack of screen time for the symbiote supervillain. Cynicism would run rampant once again when Sony announced a Venom spin-off movie last year, declaring it the first in a Spider-Man cinematic universe. . .without Spider-Man. But that skepticism turned into intrigue once it was announced that Eddie Brock would be played by none other than Tom Hardy, who’s become an action star in his own right through his brutish portrayals of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, Charlie Bronson in Nic Refn’s Bronson, and Mad Max in Mad Max: Fury Road. That perfect casting was followed up with the welcome additions of Woody Harrelson, Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed to the ensemble. Once the first teaser poster for Venom came out earlier this week, excitement and curiosity reached a fever pitch for the movie’s first teaser trailer, which came out yesterday and left fans not only wanting more, but wanting, well. . .Venom.

The trailer opens with various images of a man in a hospital getting an MRI before a wide shot of the Golden Gate Bridge (which is bizarre considering the Spider-Man universe up to this point has taken place in New York City), and various shots of the camera following Eddie from behind as he steps down a sidewalk lit by storefronts at night and into a convenience store while he begins with a voice over: “Everyone’s got their thing,” he says, referring to a moment in the past that makes a person tick. Shots of Michelle Williams, an operating table and spaceship wreckage play over his next line, “Maybe it’s a breakup, a death, an accident.” The trailer then reveals it’s Eddie on the MRI table, and his frightened confusion implies he’s there against his will. Brock’s voice over continues under a montage full of action trailer cliches, from scientists standing up in awe and fear over their experiment going wrong to Eddie running through the woods and a psychic force ripping numerous computers off their tables, to name a few. Apart from a shot of Riz Ahmed’s character opening the back of a truck to reveal the symbiote in a large canister, there’s nothing here that hasn’t been seen in any other action movie trailer, until Eddie thrashes violently on the MRI table in a genuinely unsettling close up as black venom courses up the veins of his neck, and then the trailer just ends with neither a first look at Venom nor the title of the movie.

It’s easy to be skeptical about Venom given the reputation of the studio putting this out: Sony Pictures hasn’t had the best track record with their own franchise tentpoles in modern times, with The Dark Tower being their most recent example of a blockbuster-turned-hack job in taking characters from its beloved source material and inserting them into a cliche-ridden slog of a depth-less story, and the familiar images that dominate this trailer suggest that Venom will have nothing new to add to the superhero genre. There’s also a possibility that Sony is hiding a lack of production value in the CGI effects, although that doesn’t look to be the case for the moment because it’s on display here through the cinematography from Darren Aronofsky regular Matthew Libatique. It’s also worth proposing that after breaking bank with Zombieland, director Ruben Fleischer is capable of inserting something clever into the superhero genre as a whole; with a strong R-rating (not confirmed, but we can be hopeful) and Venom’s status as a tough-guy anti-hero, this has the opportunity to turn the origin story on its head and take it down a darker, albeit fresh path. Overall, the first teaser trailer for Venom may not have given audiences what they wanted, but it’s evident through the cast and crew involved that Sony’s putting in the effort to portray this villain-turned-anti-hero correctly on the big screen. Here’s hoping the ‘wow’ factor comes in the next trailer, and once more when Tom Hardy dons the alien costume in theaters this October.