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Venom Needs To Beat Its Shared Universe Obsession

Venom MCU shared universe

One of the biggest red flags of Ruben Fleischer's upcoming Venom movie is that seems obsessed with shared universes - either establishing Sony's own Spider-adjacent universe, or connecting itself to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite having conquered the biggest hurdle in developing a solo movie for the Lethal Protector (by creating an origin story that doesn't depend on the existence of Spider-Man) the movie seems unable to stand on its own as an independent entity.

There is some poetry in a film about two emotionally-broken characters (reporter Eddie Brock and the Venom symbiote) becoming something stronger by bonding together suffering from codependency. That seems to be the case with Venom, which Sony originally developed as the base for establishing their own cinematic superhero universe to compete with Warner Bros. and Marvel Studios. Most of Sony's proposed comic book movies for the next few years centered around anti-heroes and villains affiliated with Spider-Man whom Marvel was unlikely to want for the MCU, and Venom was meant to be a test of how successful such movies might be.

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Now, however, Sony appears to be trying to have it both ways. While Venom was originally conceived as its own thing, the deal between Sony and Marvel Studios that allowed Spider-Man to be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War and the runaway success that followed seems to have made Sony more open to cooperation. This has led to conflicting reports that Venom isn't set in the MCU or that (much like the Marvel TV series produced by Netflix) it is set in the same universe, but you shouldn't expect to see Captain America and Daredevil teaming up anytime soon. This throws the status of all the movies that were meant to follow Venom into question, for a number of reasons.

Venom Is Trying To Force A Shared Universe

Black Cat Venom and Spider-Man

The confusion over whether or not Venom is or isn't set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is something of a problem for Sony's proposed superhero cinematic universe. With Venom acting as the tentpole for a new franchise and the acid test for whether a movie centering around an independent anti-hero can be a success in the current market, a lot is riding on this movie's potential success. That success could be diluted, or the results of this great experiment muddied, if Venom were to be officially established as an MCU movie.

Currently, the only other comic book movie Sony is moving forward in developing with any force is Morbius: The Living Vampire, which has cast Jared Leto in the lead role of a scientist who transforms himself into a bat-like monster through experiments to cure his blood disease. At one time the studio had been working on Silver and Black - a heist film starring the cat-burglar anti-heroine Black Cat and the mercenary-with-a-code Silver Sable. That plan has been abandoned, however, and Sony is apparently now considering solo films for both characters, along with movies based on the characters of Jackpot, Silk and Nightwatch. Sony has also solicited scripts for solo movies for the Spider-Man villains Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio, though this last one has likely been abandoned as Mysterio is rumored to be the main villain of Spider-Man: Far From Home.

While all of these characters first appeared in the Spider-Man comic books, none of them are as wholly dependent upon an association with the wall-crawler to the same degree as Venom. It would be a simple matter, for instance, to develop a movie based around Kraven The Hunter as the host of a Man Vs. Wild style reality show, who finds his skills tested as never before exploring The Savage Land. Given her background as a Nazi-hunter, a Silver Sable solo movie could prove quite timely, and an action-franchise built around a woman who leads her own team of professional mercenaries would appeal to a wide variety of audiences, amid the push for more superhero movies based around female protagonists. Unfortunately, any future films along these lines at Sony seem wholly dependent on Venom becoming a successful solo act.

Page 2: How Venom Can Get Around Its Shared Universe Problems

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Key Release Dates
  • Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018
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