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Sony’s Attempt to Spin a Cinematic Universe out of Venom Seems Flawed

Not with that PG-13 rating, anyway.

We Are Venom

A PG-13 rating, a cinematic universe already in development, and frustrated fans … what more could Sony possibly want for Venom?

Despite director Ruben Fleischer saying on numerous occasions that they were going incredibly dark and violent with their take on the villain—or anti-hero, in this incarnation—Sony ultimately went with a PG-13 rating in order to make sure they could get all the money they possibly could. When fans expressed their disappointment in the decision, Fleischer said their reactions confused him, saying their confusion over the rating might stem from a “bloodlust for Venom.”

He reiterated that they’ve made a film for everyone, while still saying their PG-13 rating is definitely one that pushes the limits.

Avi Arad, a producer on the film, told ComicBook.com that ““There’s no reason to put in violence. To define what Venom is as violence. He’s not. He’s the lethal protector, which is a very different thing.” And I’ll admit, I’m not comic devotee, but isn’t the whole point of this film that Venom is some sort of terrifying anti-hero who will bite your head off? Does that not imply the necessity of violence?

Well, according to Fleischer several months ago, yes it does. When asked if his film was going to be pushing an R rating, he said,

“That’s the plan. It is not the plan, that’s the movie. Our movie wants to honor the comics as close as we can tonally. In the comics, 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. We tried to honor it as closely as possible. This is definitely a darker, more violent, more vicious Marvel character than I think anyone’s ever seen before.”

It seems to me as though Sony saw a cut and got scared at the more violent elements. There are rumors swirling that reshoots took place in Los Angeles this year, which could point to the executives trying to tone things down a little. And quite frankly, it seems like the fans aren’t the only ones who are unhappy, as Tom Hardy recently said in an interview that there were about 40 minutes worth of scenes that were cut when asked what his favorite scene was. Obviously, Hardy could be joking—he and co-star Riz Ahmed quickly pivoted into jokes after he said this—but if your lead actor is saying his favorite scenes are on the cutting room floor …

Venom being rated PG-13 has a simple reason behind it: Sony wants to keep the door open for a Venom and Spider-Man team-up down the line, which was first teased in August. At the same time, there are allegedly plans for a Venom trilogy and more films in the Spider-verse, including one featuring Jared Leto as Morbius, a vampire-esque character. Essentially, Sony is once again getting ready to kickstart a Spider-Man cinematic universe … without Spider-Man, for the most part.

But there’s a saying about not counting your chickens before they hatch. Universal thought they’d be set on their Dark Universe before The Mummy was a massive flop and effectively canceled the franchise. Sony is banking on Venom being a big enough success to not only kickstart a universe, but one that can convince Marvel to let them use Spider-Man for a future film. As Marvel pushes hope above all, even though Infinity War ended on a tragic note, the Venom-verse seems like the antithesis of that.

“The world has enough superheroes,” screams the tagline, and the film keeps insisting that Eddie Brock and Venom are twisted anti-heroes. Meanwhile, Peter Parker, as played by Tom Holland, is an upbeat genius with a pretty big optimistic streak. How will the bright colors of Spider-Man: Homecoming blend with the shadowy blues and grays of Venom’s world? You’d have to have one of them undergo a massive tonal shift to fit with the other, and I personally don’t want to see grimdark Peter or peppy, quippy Venom.

The film drops on October 5, so the world will finally see if it does have enough superheroes, or if Venom will just appear in cinemas, make some money, then roll away like a turd in the wind. Maybe there’s a surprisingly good film hidden under the edginess of the trailer, and the rating doesn’t tone the violence down too much. Or maybe that turd line isn’t even the most meme-able line of the movie? Still, if you’re hoping for a Venom vs. Spider throw-down, I might not recommend that you hold your breath.

(image: Screenshot)

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Kate (she/her) says sorry a lot for someone who is not sorry about the amount of strongly held opinions she has. Raised on a steady diet of The West Wing and classic film, she is now a cosplayer who will fight you over issues of inclusion in media while also writing coffee shop AU fanfic for her favorite rare pairs.