The long rumored, long-delayed Venom movie is official moving forward with a major announcement that Tom Hardy playing the Eddie Brock version of the anti-hero. It makes sense that Sony would start the franchise off in this direction since Brock is the most identifiable incarnation of the character, but it isn’t the best choice to make. Rather than focusing on Eddie Brock’s time with the black symbiote, Hardy should portray Flash Thompson’s Venom.
Admittedly, as characters, Thompson, Brock, and the Venom symbiote are tied to Spider-Man lore—the Venom costume itself is an obvious parallel to Spidey’s—so huge changes to the origin story are going to be made anyway. Robbed of the influence Peter Parker had on Eddie Brock’s life, Brock has little going on to make him a three-dimensional character.
The original point of Venom was that it gave Brock a means to get revenge on Parker and Spider-Man for their perceived slights against him. After several years and growing popularity among readers, Venom turned into an anti-hero who followed his own complex code of justice that definitely didn’t remind anyone of the Punisher. No, definitely not. This is the origin of every edgy character created from 1987 to 2000. The villain-to-hero turn is a well-worn path, and it’s likely going to be jettisoned entirely for the film. So, what does that leave Brock with besides his Bob Haldeman haircut?
There are also other factors. Look, that Spider-Man 3 movie was a long time ago, but it also wasn’t a stain that wiped away quickly. Some moviegoers may remember that debacle of a film and be turned off by revisiting the character. It also won’t help that the common fan (and even the die-hards) will probably be either annoyed or frustrated by the lack of connective tissue between the established lore and the new direction of the film franchise. An answer to that would be to clear the decks. Burn the house down and build something new. Bring in Flash Thompson.
Despite also originating in pages of Spider-Man, Flash Thompson has more going on and would be easier to separate from the lore. Flash was originally just a bully who eventually became a friend to Peter. That’s it. Thompson isn’t as strongly tethered to Spider-Man and his amazing friends; Brock’s entire identity is caught up in Spider-Man. There is also the fact that Flash Thompson is simply more interesting, and comes with greater storytelling potential.
There’s a nascent but still amorphous awareness of superhero fatigue. Spandex/leather-clad heroes have invaded our culture to the point of over-saturation. The bubble will burst eventually, which is why there is a need to refresh the ingredients of superhero films. In general, you can classify DC and Marvel’s contributions as dark and serious, and campy and fun, respectively. There is a formula both stick to so greatly that all the movies melt into a familiar and predictable contribution. The more audacious films have taken more risks: Wonder Woman and Captain America took a period peace track; Guardians of the Galaxy is a space opera; Logan and Deadpool adopted an adult approach. A similar risk-taking style would benefit Venom and suits a Flash Thompson-led story easier than Brock and it certainly doesn’t hurt that Thompson is a complex character.