Warning: Minor spoilers
Thirteen Days after its initial premier in Los Angeles, Venom, has sparked a disagreement between critics and fans as to the quality of the film. Critics around the web have been underwhelmed by the project, while fans have been delightfully surprised. Why is this? Are we as fans just not smart enough to catch the terrible nuances of the film? Or have critics become disconnected from the rest of us?
I’d like to make clear that I am by no means an expert or critic. I am a devoted fan of all things superhero, but I have never been invited to a silver screen opening, and my paycheck has never been involved. I would also like to be clear, while I have extensive comic book knowledge, this is a review of the movie. Points will not be given or taken based on its adherence to any established lore.
I firmly believe Venom is the best non-Marvel (owned) superhero movie since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy. While D.C. and X-men have done their best to compete over the last few years, objectively, Marvel has dominated the market. This has been due not only to Marvel’s careful handling of overarching plot throughout the Avengers films, but also to their competitors failure to offer anything comparable.
This started a trend in the superhero movie industry. Films either fell into the dark and gritty D.C. style movie or the sarcastic and light-hearted world of the Marvel films. All heroes owned by other companies (X-Men with Fox, Deadpool with Fox, Spiderman with Sony, etc) were responding to Marvel’s establishment of new storytelling techniques. Disney has slowly swallowed every name on the list until D.C. has become one of the only competitors still left to make movies outside of the Marvel world.
I am no lawyer and could not explain how, but Venom belongs to Sony even after Marvel has taken over Spiderman.
What made this movie so satisfying to me as a viewer was its unwillingness to respond to the Marvel Franchise. There was humor in the movie, but it was not a cheap imitation of Marvel’s dialogue. There was grittiness in the film, but it was not some avant-garde attempt to go against Marvel’s “good always wins mentality”. The film allowed its Venom to explore the possibility of existing. This is what interested me as a fan.
I acknowledge the film had quite a few mechanical issues, for example, why can Riot turn into shapes that Venom seems to struggle with? Is this similar to one person being trained in martial arts and another being a civilian? Why would Venom, a low level alien who has nothing to gain, be sent on an expedition that could yield billions of life forms for his kind to feed on, if he is some kind of “loser” in his world? We would never send a “loser”—why would they?
While these concerns still exist for me, I am excited to see how the series answers these questions. Carnage is a villain even more terrifying than our current loose cannon symbiote. If you are fan of the superhero genre and would like to see a film focus on itself rather than worrying about what Marvel’s doing, I would highly recommend this film for you.