More Spider-Man Villains May Be Off-Limits For Marvel
The crux of Sony’s Spider-Man villain universe lies in the rich, varied and iconic slate of villains that Peter Parker has faced up against over the years: from the Green Goblin to Doctor Octopus to Venom to Carnage and much more. While many of these characters have already been seen in other Spider-Man films, a lot of the fan favorites have yet to make their way to the big-screen. Venom’s post-credits scene promised Woody Harrelson's Carnage and reports indicate plans bring in everyone from Black Cat to Jackpot to Nightwatch. In the light of Venom's success, even obscure characters like Silk seem more probable to get a movie.
This too could have an impact on the MCU. So far, there's been no real overlap between characters rumored for Sony solo movies and villains primed to appear in MCU Spider-Man films; it's been assumed that the two companies work to keep things exclusive. With Venom's success, there'll be more Spider-Man villain movies and thus fewer characters for Marvel to pick from. Why let Carnage be a second tier supporting villain in the MCU, fighting for screen-time with more established figures, when he can be dominant in his own movie or front and center as Eddie Brock’s next fight?
Now, Marvel Studios aren’t short of villains for Peter to fight on their own turf, but Sony may limit that going forward even if the deal doesn't change.
Venom Teaches The MCU A Lesson
Marvel Studios have done a remarkable job of establishing a consistent style and tone over the past decade. While some movies deviate into stylistic changes – for example, the neon-tinged retro nature of Thor: Ragnarok or the afrofuturism of Black Panther – ultimately audiences can watch the franchise and know, from film to film, exactly what they’re getting. They have, for the most part, eschewed the darker, more realist approach of their competition over at DC, and that has worked wonders as audience tastes shift. Sony’s big problem in establishing their own franchise was in finding a suitable style and tone that helped them stand out from the competition but wasn’t too disconnected from the MCU, just in case a crossover were ever to happen.
Venom is a curious movie in that, visually, it’s a darker style than its MCU counterparts, but its tone is also surreal and goofy. Sure, Venom may be a slick black parasite that eats people’s heads but he’s also a wise-cracking sidekick to Eddie Brock, who indulges in banter and casually dives into lobster tanks in restaurants. It’s a completely unexpected direction to take a Venom story in, given that the character is typically associated with an edgier tone. Instead, Venom is somewhere between a buddy comedy, a superhero movie, and a sci-fi-horror. It doesn’t always work but when it’s firing on all cylinders, it’s an absolute blast to watch.
Venom proves that taking well-known characters out of their comfort zones and playing with audiences’ expectations of them can pay off in a big way. It can be risky – there’s a reason everyone thought Venom would flop – but the benefits are also worth discussing. The MCU is unlikely to change direction any time soon since their own robust formula has proven near indestructible, but it may give filmmakers more freedom to consider their options. There is certainly room in their franchise for contrasting tones and styles.
Venom’s success offers a glimmer of variation in an increasingly saturated blockbuster market, but its future is inextricably tied to the MCU in the eyes of fans and the industry alike. For many, Venom will be incomplete without Spider-Man and the rest of Marvel’s universe by its side. Sony have far more options for their long-term business plan now that Venom is an undisputed success. The interesting part will be in seeing where they go when they have all the choices in front of them.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019