Once upon a time, in the far-off days of ancient Hollywood (or, to be more accurate, about four years ago), there was talk that Sony Pictures was planning a movie all about comic book villain Venom, whom we last saw featured as one of the multiple bad guys in Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3.
They had screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick onboard to write the script, and Sony was in talks with directors to helm the project. First came The Hunger Games’ Gary Ross - and later, after the Venom story changed from a Spiderman spin-off to a full reboot, Chronicle director Josh Trank. Towards the end of 2009 we started hearing rumors that the Venom project had been delayed, and these rumors were confirmed when any news of development on the project more or less died away completely.
Last summer, The Amazing Spider-Man producers Avi Arad and Matthew Tolmach mentioned Venom in an interview and agreed that he “deserves his own movie,” also mentioning that they’d “been sitting around in a room talking about Venom stories.” It’s worth noting, however, that we’ve not had any real indication that a Venom movie is back on the books, and as far as we know, the project remains consigned to developmental limbo. However, as we did with J.J. Abrams’ Superman movie last week, it’s always interesting to find out about what might have been.
In the same interview with Collider that saw them opening up about their Deadpool script, Reese and Wernick were questioned about the treatment that they wrote for Venom. Reese more or less confirmed that the story that they had written will never see the light of day:
“We did [write a draft]. A long time ago, and it likely will not become a movie in that form. Too many things have happened in between now and then and different people have been involved, and it’s just likely not to happen in the form that we wrote it unfortunately.”
With that in mind, however, the screenwriters are more or less at full liberty to discuss what they had planned for the alien symbiote and his human host(s), and how they feel about the script several years on.
Reese: “[The script was] realistic, grounded, a little more dark take on the character.”
Wernick: Yeah it was definitely kind of dark and soul search-y. We love it and we’re proud of it.”
Reese: Eddie Brock was a conflicted character, and so I don’t think it could’ve been Peter Parker.”
Wernick: I think we felt like we got pretty close, I mean no script ends perfectly—”
Reese: “Except Deadpool. We nailed Deadpool.”
Wernick: “(laughs) Deadpool is the one we really did nail more than any other. That’s our favorite script. But Venom I thought we got darn close.”
When asked about why the Venom movie – at least, their version of it – failed to get any further along in the development process, Paul Wernick chalks it up primarily to bad luck and circumstance:
“You never know exactly why something works or it doesn’t, and it’s never your call. I mean so many times our job is about convincing people to trust us. You never really know why a project goes forward or it doesn’t. You clearly don’t nail everything you ever write; we do think we bring a pretty high level of consistency to our writing, and at some point the movie gods either frown on you or they smile on you.”
Finally, Reese and Wernick described a particular action sequence that they had in mind for the movie, which was part of the pitch that they made to the studio:
Wernick: “Imagine a symbiote traveling across a city at some point in the movie, jumping from body to body as it goes, and each person that it inhabits ends up becoming really violent and striking someone else and then it jumps to the next person. There was a really cool sequence like that in there.”
Reese: “We gotta use that at some point.”
Wernick: “We do have to use that, except it’s pretty specific to the symbiote.”
The scene does sound like it could work very well on the big screen, though it might not necessarily be restricted to a Venom plotline. It bears certain similarities to a sequence from the 1998 Denzel Washington crime thriller Fallen, in which the killer was a supernatural being capable of jumping from one body to the next with a single touch. It could also work if they ever make a movie out of the video game Prototype, which was also about a cheerfully sociopathic symbiotic creature capable of absorbing a person’s DNA and disguising themselves as that person.
Deadpool may still be in limbo due to the R-rated nature of its script, and Venom may be more or less dead in the water, but with the growing popularity of comic book movies about superheroes fighting for all that is good and right with the world, is there room on the rosters for an anti-hero franchise? There’s not much that is family-friendly about morally bankrupt or psychologically alien character, so there is an inevitable challenge that comes with pitching such a character to studios like Fox or Sony. It’s a challenge that I’m hoping Rheese and Wernick will be able to overcome, though; I’ve always found that amoral characters are more interesting than heroes.
Would you like to see more of Venom, or do you agree with co-creator Tod MacFarlane’s belief that the character just can’t work as the hero of his own film? Could Reese and Wernick, who have reportedly done an admirable job on the Deadpool script, have written Venom well enough to give the audience empathy for him? We might never know, unless the Venom draft gets leaked online as well, but tell us your thoughts in the comments below.