Venom is a 2018 American superhero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name, produced by Columbia Pictures in association with Marvel and distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing. It is intended to be the first film in Sony's Marvel Universe, adjunct to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Ruben Fleischer from a screenplay by Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner and Kelly Marcel, based off a story by Pinkner and Rosenberg, and stars Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock / Venom, alongside Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, and Reid Scott. In Venom, journalist Brock is bound to an alien symbiote that gives him superpowers.
Development of a Venom film, a spin-off from the Spider-Man film franchise, first began with producer Avi Arad in 2007. After various iterations, work on a new version began in March 2017 to start a new shared universe featuring the Marvel characters to which Sony possessed the film rights, though Sony also intends for the film to share the world of Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is set in the MCU after a deal between Sony and Marvel Studios. Rosenberg and Pinkner were set to write, with Fleischer and Hardy added in May 2017. Principal photography began in October 2017, taking place in Atlanta, New York City, and San Francisco.
Venom was released in the United States on October 5, 2018.
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the entire movie.
Six months later, Drake is getting closer to achieving successful symbiosis. Brock is approached by Dora Skirth, one of Drake's scientists who disagrees with his methods and wants to help Brock expose him. She helps Brock break into the research facility to search for evidence, and he learns that an acquaintance of his, a homeless woman named Maria, has become one of Drake's test subjects. Brock attempts to rescue Maria, but she attacks him and the symbiote possessing her transfers from her body to his, leaving her dead. Brock escapes, but he soon begins displaying strange symptoms and reaches out to Weying for help. Her new boyfriend, Dr. Dan Lewis, examines Brock and discovers the symbiote. Meanwhile, Drake executes Skirth for her betrayal by exposing her to the remaining symbiote, which ultimately dies. This leaves the symbiote inside Brock as the only known surviving specimen.
Drake sends mercenaries to retrieve the symbiote from Brock, but it takes over Brock's body and transforms him into a monstrous creature that fights off the attackers. Taking shelter outside the city, the symbiote communicates with Brock and introduces itself as Venom. It explains that the comet is an invasion force searching for new worlds where the symbiotes can possess and devour the inhabitants. Venom offers to spare Brock if he helps the symbiotes achieve their goal, and Brock soon comes to enjoy the superhuman attributes that the symbiote gives him. Brock breaks into his old workplace to turn in evidence of Drake's crimes, but he is surrounded by SWAT officers on the way out and transforms once again to escape. Weying witnesses this transformation and takes Brock back to Lewis's office, where they reveal to Brock that the symbiote is slowly rotting his internal organs. Brock also admits that the symbiote has two weaknesses: high-pitched noises and fire. Although the symbiote claims the organ damage is a fixable part of their symbiosis, Brock uses an MRI machine to weaken the symbiote long enough to separate from it. He is then captured by Drake's men.
Meanwhile, the fourth symbiote, Riot, makes its way from Malaysia to San Francisco by hopping from body to body. It bonds with Drake, who agrees to take Riot in a Life Foundation space probe to collect the rest of the symbiotes and bring them to Earth. Weying reluctantly bonds with Venom so they can free Brock. When Brock and Venom are bonded again, the latter states that he has been convinced to help protect the Earth from his kind through his interactions with Brock, and the pair attempt to stop Riot and Drake with Weying's help. Venom damages the probe as it takes off, causing it to explode and kill both Riot and Drake. Weying believes Brock is no longer bonded to Venom after this, and that the symbiote also died in the explosion. However, the pair remain secretly bonded and set out to protect the city by killing criminals.
Brock also returns to journalism, and in a mid-credits scene he is invited to interview incarcerated serial killer Cletus Kasady.
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- Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock / Venom: An investigative journalist who becomes the host of an alien symbiote that imbues him with super-human abilities and a horrific alter-ego: "Venom". Director Ruben Fleischer noted that unlike a werewolf or Jekyll and Hyde, the relationship between Brock and the symbiote is a "hybrid" with the two characters sharing a body and having to learn to work together. Hardy was drawn to this duality, and compared the two characters to Ren and Stimpy. He gave each a distinctive voice: an "aw-shucks American accent" for Brock; and a James Brown "lounge lizard"-like voice for Venom. Hardy called Brock an "anti-hero" who would "do whatever he has to" accomplish a goal. Hardy also did performance capture for the latter.
- Michelle Williams as Anne Weying: A district attorney and Eddie's girlfriend.
- Riz Ahmed as Carlton Drake / Riot:
A genius inventor and leader of the Life Foundation experimenting on the symbiotes. Ahmed noted Drake is "trying to envision what the future of life looks like because the human race is almost done" and is "trying to do right by humanity and save the future" when he discovers the symbiote. Drake is eventually bonded to another symbiote known as Riot, which Fleischer described as "a body-hopper".
- Scott Haze as Roland Treece: Drake's head of security.
- Reid Scott as Dr. Dan Lewis: Anne's new boyfriend who tries to help Eddie.
Additionally, Jenny Slate and Melora Walters respectively portray Dora Skirth, a Life Foundation scientist, and Maria, a homeless woman that Brock befriends. Chris O’Hara has a brief appearance as astronaut John Jameson. Woody Harrelson is introduced in the film's mid-credits scene as Cletus Kasady, while Stan Lee makes a cameo appearance as a dog-walker who talks to Brock and Venom. Sope Aluko, Scott Deckert,Marcella Bragio, Michelle Lee, Mac Brandt, Christian Convery, Sam Medina, and Ron Cephas Jones also appear in the film.
The Marvel Comics character Eddie Brock, a notable antagonist of Spider-Man, was introduced in the 2007 film Spider-Man 3 with Topher Grace in the role. The character initially played a minor role that did not explore his alter-ego Venom, but this was eventually changed to a major villain role for the latter because producer Avi Arad felt the series had relied too much on director Sam Raimi's personal favorite Spider-Man villains and not characters that modern fans were more interested in. Raimi had been hesitant to explore the character due to his "lack of humanity". Arad revealed plans for a spin-off film focused on Venom in July 2007.
By July 2008, Sony was actively developing Venom alongside direct sequels to Spider-Man 3 in the hope that the character could "add longevity" to the franchise in a similar fashion to Wolverine in 20th Century Fox's X-Men films. The studio had commissioned a script from Jacob Estes, but was considering taking the film in a different direction from that draft and was seeking new writers. Sony was also "not yet convinced that [Grace] can carry a tentpole picture." That September, Sony hired Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese to write a new script, while industry insiders suggested that Grace should return for the spin-off "because the likeable actor could be a a sympathetic evildoer", in response to Venom co-creator Todd MacFarlane suggesting that a Venom film could not do well with a villain as the central character. Wernick and Reese had pitched an original story idea for the film to Sony, which Reese described as "realistic, grounded, a little more dark take on the character." The pair then worked on an outline with Sony and Marvel, who "had specific rules about the villain and the backstory and stuff like that". They had completed a draft by April 2009, which included a role written specifically for Stan Lee, and featured a sequence where the Venom symbiote jumps "from body to body [through a city], and each person that it inhabits ends up becoming really violent and striking someone else and then it jumps to [them]."
Wernick and Reese had turned in a second draft by September 2009, and Reese said that Sony was "pushing forward in whatever ways they push forward". A month later, Gary Ross, who was re-writing the script for Spider-Man 4 at the time, was hired to also re-write the Venom script, as well as direct, and produce alongside Arad. Grace was "not considered likely" to return to the role then, with the film starting "from the drawing board" and looking to make the villain "an antihero who becomes a defender of the innocent." In January 2010, Sony announced that the Spider-Man franchise would be rebooted after Raimi decided to no longer pursue direct sequels to Spider-Man 3. By March 2012, Sony was still interested in a Venom film, now looking to capitalize on the release of the first reboot film, The Amazing Spider-Man. The studio was in negotiations with Josh Trank to replace Ross after the latter had left the project to direct The Hunger Games. That June, Arad and fellow producer Matt Tolmach discussed Venom connecting to The Amazing Spider-Man, after comparisons to the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films crossing over in The Avengers. Arad called it "an Eddie Brock story" only, but Tolmach added, "Hopefully all these worlds will live together in peace someday."
In June 2013, Sony revealed plans to use The Amazing Spider-Man 2 to establish their own expanded universe based on the Marvel properties the studio had the film rights to, including Venom. Arad and Tolmach would produce the films as part of a franchise brain trust, with Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Ed Solomon set to write the screenplay for Venom, which Kurtzman would direct. In April 2014, Arad and Tolmach said Venom would be released after The Amazing Spider-Man 3—which was set for release on May 27, 2016—but before The Amazing Spider-Man 4. However, The Amazing Spider-Man 2 under-performed and, with Sony "under tremendous pressure to perform [that has them taking] a hard look at their most important franchise", the direction of the shared universe was rethought. The Amazing Spider-Man 3 was pushed back to 2018, and the Venom film, now known as Venom Carnage, was moved up to 2017. Kurtzman was still attached to direct, and write alongside Solomon. In February 2015, Sony and Marvel Studios announced a new partnership that would see Marvel produce the next Spider-Man film for Sony, and integrate the character into their MCU. Sony still planned to produce the spin-off films without Marvel's involvement. By November, they were believed to have been "scrapped", with Sony instead focusing on its new reboot with Marvel.
Venom was again revived by Sony in March 2016, with Arad and Tolmach producing, and Dante Harper writing a new screenplay. The project was envisioned as a standalone film, unrelated to Sony and Marvel's new Spider-Man films, which would launch its own franchise. A year later, Sony gave the film an October 5, 2018 release date, and explained that Kurtzman was not involved with the new project, and no new director had been signed, while the screenplay was now being written by Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner. Venom was expected to not only begin a new franchise, but also a new shared universe independent of the MCU, and was aiming for an R-rating on a smaller budget, inspired by 20th Century Fox's success doing so with X-Men films Deadpool and Logan. Sony's director shortlist for the film was believed to include Adi Shankar, known for his dark, R-rated takes "on the properties he grew up on". In May, Sony announced that Tom Hardy would star as Eddie Brock / Venom in Venom, to be directed by Ruben Fleischer and officially begin "Sony's Marvel Universe". Venom is not considered a spin-off of any other film. Fleischer was chosen after a long search by Sony, while the casting of Hardy, a "huge fan" of Venom, happened very quickly after he left director J. C. Chandor's Triple Frontier in April and Sony "saw an opportunity to court an in-demand talent."
Pre-productionEditIn June 2017, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed that the film was solely a Sony project and Marvel had no plans to connect it with the MCU. However, producer Amy Pascal soon clarified that Sony intended to have their MU films take place in "the same world" as the new MCU films starting with Spider-Man: Homecoming, describing them as "adjunct" to that world. She said that Venom would connect to the next film in Sony's MU, Silver & Black, and that there was potential for Tom Holland's Spider-Man to appear. However, in the following week, Feige and Pascal clarified that Spider-Man projects are the only Sony projects in the MCU and that neither Venom nor Silver & Black are connected to them; the SMU is in its own universe.
The character Carnage was also expected to appear in Venom at that point. In July, Columbia Pictures president Sanford Panitch explained that Sony was not interested in producing "conventional comic-book movies" and was looking to give each film in their MU a distinct style. Venom was considered "a spin on a horror film", inspired by the works of John Carpenter and David Cronenberg but with "more pop and fun". Fleischer said he has "always been drawn to the more antihero superheroes. There’s a dark element to [Venom] and a wit that has always appealed to me." He said the film would explore Venom's origins and the Jekyll and Hyde relationship that Brock has with the symbiote.
Riz Ahmed was in talks to join the film in August, with Matt Smith, Pedro Pascal, and Matthias Schoenaerts also up for the same role. In September, Michelle Williams entered talks to join the film as a district attorney and Brock's love interest. By October, Jenny Slate, Reid Scott, and Scott Haze were in negotiations to join the film, with Slate up for a role as a scientist. Kelly Marcel was writing the latest draft of the film's script.
Writing and Spider-Man connectionEdit
Venom is primarily based on the Venom: Lethal Protector miniseries and the "Planet of the Symbiotes" story arc. Hardy said that, like Lethal Protector, the film is set in San Francisco. Fleischer chose to base the film on Lethal Protector because, as the first solo Venom series, "it broke him free from Spider-Man." Spider-Man ultimately could not be included in the film because of the deal between Sony and Marvel Studios, challenging the writers to "make a movie with a character that's defined by Spider-Man without Spider-Man." For this reason, they looked to the Ultimate Marvel version of Venom—whose origin is not tied to Spider-Man—for inspiration. Lethal Protector also gave the writers a "solid foundation" to explore the more heroic side of Venom, rather than the villainous side. One of Venom's lines in the film, "Eyes, lungs, pancreas... so many snacks, so little time," was lifted unaltered from The Amazing Spider-Man #374.
In July, Fleischer described the film as having "no heroes", and said that they were planning a "huge world" with many characters while developing the film; he revealed that another symbiote, Riot, would be appearing as a villain in the film. Additionally, he confirmed Spider-Man would not be appearing but said a crossover could happen in a future film. Since Venom's origin is not tied to Spider-Man in the film, as it is in the comics, it did not make sense for the filmmakers to add a version of Spider-Man's symbol to Venom's chest. However, they still wanted to be as accurate to the comic designs as possible, and an all-black character would have been difficult to see in night scenes, so Venom has a unique symbol on his chest instead in the film which is formed from the white veins of the symbiote. Fleischer wanted Venom to stand out compared to other comic book-based films, and felt tonally that it would not remind viewers of the lighter MCU or the somber DC Extended Universe. It was important for him to honor the violence of Venom from the comics, where "he bites people's heads off and eats brains. It would be weird to make a movie with Venom if he wasn't doing that." Sony executives were reluctant to push this element so far that the film would earn an R-rating, which they believed would cause problems for crossovers with the family-friendly Spider-Man, as well as other MCU characters, in future films. Venom was ultimately rated PG-13, with the violence toned down to allow for possible crossovers.
Principal photography began on October 23, 2017, with filming set to take place in Atlanta and New York City. Marvel's Iron Man (2008) cinematographer Matthew Libatique returned in that role for the film, while Oliver Scholl serves as production designer for the film, after also doing so for Spider-Man: Homecoming. Williams was confirmed to have joined the film in November, with Sony organizing her filming schedule to ensure her availability for concurrent, unexpected reshoots on the film All the Money in the World. Hardy recorded his lines for the symbiote before filming began, and they were played to him through an earpiece on set for scenes where Brock and the symbiote talk to each other.
In December, Fleischer and Hardy said that the film was "important to the Marvel universe", and that it was primarily based on the Venom: Lethal Protector and Planet of the Symbiotes miniseries. Hardy added that, like the former comic, the film would be set in San Francisco. At that point, Woody Harrelson was in talks to portray a henchman in the film, and Williams was revealed to be portraying Ann Weying. Additional filming took place in San Francisco from January 16 to 26, 2018. Locations included Russian Hill, North Beach, Chinatown, and the Financial District. Hardy wrapped filming on January 27.
Ahmed and Scott were confirmed to appear in the film in February 2018, and Will Beall was revealed as an additional screenwriter. In the following months, Sope Aluko and Scott Deckert were revealed to be cast in the film, Haze and Harrelson were confirmed to appear, and Ahmed's role was confirmed to be that of Carlton Drake. Harrelson, who previously worked with Fleischer on Zombieland (2009), explained that he signed on to the film for a small role—he described himself as being "in a little fraction of this movie"—knowing that he would have a bigger part in a potential sequel. The film was believed to have undergone reshoots in June 2018 that were overseen by Hardy.
In July, Fleischer described the film as having "no heroes", and said that they were planning a "huge world" with many characters while developing the film; he revealed that another symbiote, Riot, would be appearing as a villain in the film. Additionally, he confirmed that Spider-Man would not be appearing in the film but that a crossover with that character could happen in a future film. Since Venom's origin is not tied to Spider-Man in the film, as it is in the comics, it did not make sense for the filmmakers to add a version of Spider-Man's symbol to Venom's chest. However, they still wanted to be as accurate to the comic designs as possible and Fleischer noted an additional issue of an all-black character being difficult to see in night scenes, so Venom has a unique symbol on his chest instead in the film which is formed from the white veins of the symbiote. It was important for Fleischer to honor the violence of the character from the comics, where "he bites people's heads off and eats brains. It would be weird to make a movie with Venom if he wasn't doing that." However, executives at Sony were reluctant to push this element so far that the film would earn an R-rating, which they believed would cause issues for crossovers with the family-friendly Spider-Man, as well as other MCU characters, in future films. Venom was one of the first films to take advantage of the new post-production facilities at Sony Pictures' Stage 6 building in Culver City, California, with two new theaters equipped for sound design using the immersive Dolby Atmos technology, two new stages for sound mixing with Avid Technology's Pro Tools workstations, and a theater set-up for remote visual effects and color grading review.
Ludwig Göransson signed on to compose the score for Venom in March 2018, reuniting with Fleischer after the pair worked together on the 2011 film 30 Minutes or Less. Having composed the music for Marvel Studios' Black Panther, Göransson said that he was interested in continuing to explore music for superhero films because "as a young film composer that is one of the things you dream of ... superhero themes really resonate with audiences." In August, rapper Eminem teased that he had contributed a new song to the soundtrack for Venom. The song, "Venom", was released on his album Kamikaze on August 31, 2018.
For the Sony Pictures panel at Comic Con Experience 2017, Fleischer and Hardy appeared in a video from the film's set to promote it. A teaser for the film was released in February 2018, which Dani Di Placido called "comically underwhelming" for Forbes. He felt this was a major misstep by Sony given the teaser was meant to win over uninterested Spider-Man fans, particularly after the character's portrayal in Spider-Man 3. The fact that the teaser did not include the title character was a common criticism by commentators. Sony chairman Tom Rothman later acknowledged this, explaining that the intention had been to "heighten anticipation" for the film.
Rothman presented new footage of the film at CinemaCon 2018, and noted that it revealed the film's version of Venom by saying, "See, we didn't forget to put Venom in the movie!" Placido was more positive of this trailer, praising the appearance of and visuals for Venom, but stating that the dialogue in the trailer raised concerns regarding the film's writing. During the trailer, actress Jenny Slate pronounces the word symbiote as SIM-bye-oht rather than SIM-bee-oht as many commentators believed it should be pronounced. This led to widespread criticism of the film, as well as a 35,700 percent increase in searches for "symbiote pronunciation" according to dictionary Merriam-Webster. The dictionary noted that both pronunciations are technically considered to be acceptable. It was also noted that the trailer reused music that was heard in a major trailer for the Marvel film Avengers: Infinity War not long before, with Hannah Shaw-Williams of Screen Rant questioning whether this was a coincidence or if Sony was "deliberately trying to tie Venom to the MCU in the minds of audiences. Whatever the reason, Venom will need more than just a familiar piece of trailer music in order to win over audiences". According to Fizziology, an analytics company that takes many different social media platforms into account, the second trailer was watched 64.3 million times within 24 hours which was a 72 percent increase over the first trailer. The company said that it was rare for a second trailer to get more views than the first, and also noted that general positive responses were up 46 percent to be comparable to those towards the second trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming. The majority of positive responses were directed towards the appearance and design of Venom.
Fletcher, Hardy, and Ahmed promoted the film at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con, where the audience was given Venom masks and chanted "We are Venom". New footage from the film was debuted at the panel, including the reveal of the villainous symbiote Riot. A third trailer was subsequently released online, and did not receive a positive response from Scott Mendelson (also of Forbes) who felt the film was looking comparable to Catwoman (2004)—"the shining example of how not to do this kind of movie". He also felt that Fleischer's decision to make a sequel to his successful film Zombieland before Venom's release was an indication that the film was not going to be good. Richard Newby, writing for The Hollywood Reporter, felt that the film was being marketed as if it was in an "earlier era", saying it "looks pre-Iron Man cool" and more like a cross between An American Werewolf in London (1981) and Blade (1998) than a modern superhero film. He noted that despite early fears, the latest trailer showed that Venom would be featured throughout the film, and believed that the film's lack of shared universe connections and distinct tone could allow Sony to prove that they have "a handle on these characters after all".
Venom had its world premiere at the Regency Village Theatre in Westwood, Los Angeles on October 1, 2018, and is scheduled to be released in the United States on October 5.
Box office projectionsEdit
In the United States and Canada, Venom is projected to gross $60–70 million in its opening weekend. Worldwide, it is expected to debut to $160–175 million, including $100–110 million from 59 markets internationally. According to Screen Rant, the film will need to gross at least $200 million to break even.
Venom received generally negative reviews from critics. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 30% based on 115 reviews, with an average rating of 4.4/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Venom's first standalone movie turns out to be like the comics character in all the wrong ways—chaotic, noisy, and in desperate need of a stronger attachment to Spider-Man." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 34 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
Alonso Duralde of TheWrap gave the film a negative review, calling it a "listless dud" and writing, "Leaping from plot point to plot point without the hindrance of logic or characters, this big-screen return of the legendary Spider-Man nemesis — last seen in the franchise-hobbling Spider-Man 3 — is aggressively loud and stupid without being much fun at all." Owen Gleiberman of Variety wrote, "Venom is a textbook case of a comic-book film that’s unexciting in its ho-hum competence, and even its visual-effects bravura...This gateway into the Sony Universe of Marvel Characters (get ready: there are 90!) may not sputter as badly as Tom Cruise's The Mummy, but it could turn out to be a similar case of a franchise kickoff that doesn't fully attain franchise liftoff." Alex Hudson of Exclaim! gave the film 3/10 and wrote, "Venom is basically The Mask with a slobbery tongue and none of Jim Carrey's slapstick charm."
Katie Walsh, writing for of the Chicago Tribune, gave the film 2.5 out of 4 stars and said, "It's a mess, but wow, is it ever a fun, fascinating mess. Those are always so much more thrilling than any of the formulaic superhero movies that parade through multiplexes all year." Perri Nemiroff of Collider graded the film a C+, saying "Bear with me here; Venom the movie is an actual 'turd in the wind.' Chop off its legs thanks to a weak first act. Lose the arms because every single supporting character is essentially worthless. The head obviously has to go because Venom is pretty brainless. And, not for nothing, but that leaves us with the heart (or for the sake of this visual, the torso) of the movie, the Venom and Eddie relationship."
Sony plans for Venom to launch its own franchise. In July 2017, Panitch indicated that future Venom films could crossover more with the Spider-Man films. Harrelson revealed in May 2018 that he was expected to have a larger role in a Venom sequel, describing this move as a roll of the dice since he was unable to read a script for the sequel before signing on to the first film. That July, Fleischer and Hardy both expressed interest in a crossover with Spider-Man, and indicated that Sony was interested in the idea as well; in August, the studio confirmed that it planned to crossover Spider-Man and Venom by saying they "are already in the same universe—so without giving too much away, we are looking forward to the two of them eventually facing off in the future". The same month, Hardy revealed he is signed on for two more Venom films.