Venom Is Now The Launch of the Spider-Villains Universe (But Was Always Part Of It)
It's actually quite remarkable how little Sony's plans for Venom have changed since those 2014 leaks, especially considering that the center of the Spider-Man franchise as a whole has since been absolutely revitalized. Shortly after the leak, Sony and Marvel agreed to an unprecedented deal that has brought Tom Holland's Peter Parker into the MCU: Sony makes the Spider-Man films in the shared universe, while Marvel can use Spidey in teamups. Sony is still able to produce films centered around secondary Spider-Man characters alongside this, but they aren't able to tie them into the Spider-Man films themselves. That reshapes their Spider-villains cinematic universe quite dramatically, with Venom serving as its launchpad.
For all that's the case, though, so many of Sony's ideas seem to be rooted in discussions back in 2014. The emails showed a lot of discussion about a female Spider-Man character, for example; that was presumably Silk, a hero created by Dan Slott back in 2014 and whose film is now known to be in the early stages of preproduction. Juan Capdet's email references both a Kraven and a Black Cat film; while he was pitching for a universe that included Spider-Man, it's interesting to note that both movies are in the works. Other spinoffs have featured characters tied to the Maximum Carnage event, suggesting Sony may well be building up to the crossover movie Capdet suggested (possibly with post-credits scenes).
The only real difference is that Sinister Six has been dropped. Curiously enough, though, not all Sony figures appear to have been convinced that film was a sensible one to go for anyway; in one email Pascal hints at being unsure whether or not it would work. It's possible this idea will be used in the MCU.
Venom Was Always Going to be PG-13
"Kids love Venom," Avi Arad recently explained to Vulture. "It's something about it that attracts the anti-hero sensibility." It was exactly the same point Arad had been expressing privately for years, the point he was making when he noted Venom's prominence in the Toys 'R' Us circular back in 2014. Given that's the case, it's no surprise Arad has now revealed he never believed an R-rating was really an option for Venom. "There's no reason to put in violence," he explained. "To define what Venom is as violence. He's not... Today, in CGI and stuff, we can make Venom bite your head. But we don't have to show the head going side to side like, 'that actually tastes good.' It's irrelevant. What's relevant is that you finally understood, is that a bad guy?"
That doesn't mean the film will be your typical Marvel fare, though. Even back in 2014, emails suggest Sony was toying with a hard PG-13, one that pushed the boundaries of the superhero franchise a little bit further. That does indeed seem to be the approach the studio is ultimately taking with Venom, with Ruben Fleischer pointing to The Dark Knight as an example of how far you can go. "They put a pen through a guy's forehead," he pointed out, "So I figure if you can do that in a PG-13 movie you can bite some heads off."
There is some evidence that Sony considered filming R-rated cuts of some of their films. Certainly, that was part of Juan Capdet's pitch for Maximum Carnage; he suggested it could be "hard PG-13 with the possibility of an unrated bloodier version for home entertainment." While Sony has teased that kind of idea in public, they don't appear to have taken it too seriously, instead using it to toy with viewers.
Venom's Story Has Changed - But Still Has Similarities
As we've noted, Sony originally considered using the Ultimate Comics origin of Venom, where the symbiote was a genetically engineered creature. But even that origin story is tied strongly to Spider-Man. With the studio unable to integrate the wall-crawler into the narrative, they've been forced to take a different approach. They've heavily adapted ideas from the Venom: Lethal Protector and Planet of the Symbiotes plots, telling a tale where an alien spaceship containing symbiotes comes crashing to Earth. The labs have remained part of the plot, although they've been tied to the sinister Life Foundation rather than to Oscorp.
There are only a sparse few emails discussing the potential plot and secondary characters of Venom; the project was in the early stages back in 2014, and no details had really been set in stone. What is interesting, though, is that Pascal dropped in a reference to Eddie Brock's ex-wife, Ann Weying. She'll be an important secondary character in the Venom film, played by Michelle Williams. Pascal's brief email notes that Weying became a symbiote herself, She-Venom, so it's possible that could fit into Sony's future plans for the love of Eddie's life.
While many view the Amazing Spider-Man attempt at Venom as being replaced by the new movie, it's really just an evolution. Indeed, nowhere is this more obvious than in the release date: the original proposition for Venom eyed a 2017 release date, eventually pushed back to early 2018. In reality, Sony was just a few months out.
- Venom (2018) release date: Oct 05, 2018