You would think after ten years of superhero films dominating the box-office, there would be some genre fatigue by now. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case, Venom opened to over $70 million in its opening weekend in the United States alone.
Venom is a spin-off movie of the famed Spider-Man villain. Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is a controversial reporter, who when investigating an Elon Musk-type tech mogul (Riz Ahmed) is infected by an alien parasite. This parasite gives Eddie superhuman powers and essentially creates an alter ego named Venom.
The film was marketed to be an anti-hero origin story, and it’s rare to see a film from the point of view of super-villains (2016’s Suicide Squad tried and largely failed with that concept). However, in Venom Eddie is more of a reluctant superhero than anything else; he’s a genuinely good person and, even as Venom, has good intentions. This takes away the supposed fresh-take that the film was going to bring to the genre, and thus we’re simply left with yet another superhero origin story.
Venom could have had fun at playing with a character struggling with morality, but instead that job is left to the actors alone. Hardy, always going hard at any role he’s cast in, is compelling as the titular character, but even he can’t save a timid and safe-playing story. Other very competent actors in smaller roles suffer the tacky script, Ahmed and Michelle Williams (as the romantic interest) among the most prominent. Such restraint and lack of boldness, made Venom feel more like a 90s superhero flick with such cheesy dialogue and resolutions. The story itself has such glaring character contradictions, that it seems surprising that such a film could be conceived in the nitpicky era of the internet.
The film checks out all the boxes for an origin story, and because of that we’re not left with anything new. Some timid writing, and incompetence at delving into the rich concept of the protagonist’s conflict will likely have this film be forgotten amongst the next handful of superhero flicks.