Venom, with its delightfully fun homoerotic subtext and social justice warrior protagonist, has just surpassed Justice League‘s worldwide box office, with a current total grossing $673.5 million, in comparison to Justice League‘s $657.9 million, according to Comicbook.
While that 15.6-million-dollar difference may not seem like much, it’s also held up against the fact that Venom took around $100 million to make, while Justice League took $300 million. What accounts for the success of Venom rather than Justice League really comes down to fans and the fan response. As someone who didn’t even dislike Justice League to the degree that others did, for me, there was no denying that, for the first time its members came together onscreen, it was a subpar delivery. Even those who have defended the DCEU have had mixed reactions to that film.
Yet, critics can’t be blamed for the disparity, because on Metacritic, Venom has a 35, and Justice League has a 45, so it’s not as though critics were singing Venom’s praises. However, the difference was that many did say it was still fun, and the queer subtext between Eddie and Venom became a big topic of conversation.
In comparison, Justice League got memed because of Henry Cavill’s mustache, and after seeing Mission Impossible, I tip my hat to Paramount.
The other big issue to come out of Justice League was the way that Diana was portrayed, all of a sudden becoming the Team Mom, and how her skirt, which managed to not be the subject of up-skirt shots in her own movie, suddenly became an issue. Venom gave us “turd in the wind,” erotica, and fan art. Justice League gave us glimpses of good movies. Now mind you, Justice League had inherited the sins of a universe only really held up by Wonder Woman, and a solid B- for Man of Steel from some people.
What Venom did was choose to have fun and hope that the audience would come and see it for that alone, and for once, that strategy worked because the movie decided to be gay as hell. I say that’s the key thing because, throughout all the major movie universes including Marvel, DC, and more, people have been thirsting to see a queer superhero story. While Deadpool plays with the concept, for the most part, all the opportunities for needed queer content were left on the cutting room floor and kept on the press tour when people would ask about it.
Was Venom groundbreaking? No, hardly, but that just shows how starved we are for that content and how just having some of that subtext at the forefront of a movie like this was important to so many people—plus, again, it was fun and didn’t try to be anything deeper than what it was.
In doing so, it managed to actually highlight all the things that made the characters it was playing with interesting. Tom Hardy really acted his butt off as well, committing to the silliness, and if anything, he deserves more props than he’s getting for being able to sell all the really fun aspects of having your body hijacked by your space-ooze boyfriend.
I’m hoping that Aquaman will follow that same trend of just being a fun action comic book movie with a soft boy lead in a really handsome body. When we have several different comic book universes up and running successfully in film, everyone wins.
What other movies do you expect to outgross Justice League this year?
(via Comicbook, image: Sony)
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