Venom: Superhero Movie or Buddy Comedy?

SPOILER ALERT: If you’ve decided to avoid seeing the new Venom film based on its negative critics’ reviews, be warned that this article may contain spoilers.

 

    Though Venom is a character from the Marvel comics, the movie starring the same character doesn’t share the same Marvel Cinematic Universe as the superheroes on the big screen we’re familiar with, like Iron Man, Captain America, etc. Venom is the first film released in Sony’s Marvel Universe. Due to some convoluted ownership battle between various film studios that I can’t comprehend, Sony has the rights to the Spider-Man character and associated characters from the comics, like Venom. The film’s premise revolves around an alien symbiotes that are brought to Earth by main baddie Carlton Drake so that by bonding with these aliens, humans could extend their lives. Considering the fact that Venom wasn’t an MCU movie, a franchise I have complete trust in, and that its reviews were quite negative, I walked into the theater a bit apprehensive.

    Walking out of the theater, I was pleasantly surprised. I’ll be the first to admit that the plot and dialogue weren’t too strong: the motivations of the journalist-turned-hero Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) have little depth beyond “We probably shouldn’t let the planet be attacked by an alien species.” Supporting characters like Brock’s love interest Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) had generic lines, and Riz Ahmed’s Drake could have been a more fleshed out villain. Overall the film took too long for Brock and the symbiote Venom to actually meet.

    Despite all this, the magic of the movie begins once Brock and Venom begin to form a relationship. Their bond is characterized by a love-hate relationship and often juvenile back-and-forth banter. The connection between host and parasite is much more sincere and honestly, more romantic than that between Brock and his supposed love interest. What could have been a serious action film about aliens inhabiting human bodies transformed into a comedy about an insatiable appetite for tater tots and skulls and two losers bonding over their loser status. Remarkably, a look at the Rotten Tomatoes page for Venom reveals that the critics’ score of 30% is a complete opposite of the audience score of 88%. This points to a recurring issue of film critics that can’t get into the mindset of the average moviegoer. They pay more attention to the artsy and deep qualities of a movie than its entertainment value. Venom may not be a contender for an Oscar nomination, but it is a fun movie and doesn’t pretend to be more than just that.