Sony has released the teaser trailer for Venom, giving us our first look at Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock. However, the footage notably doesn’t include Venom himself. Why did Sony hold back the eponymous symbiote?
Last year, Sony Pictures surprised superhero fans by announcing a Venom solo movie that would launch their own franchise in addition to the studio’s deal with Marvel Studios to share Spider-Man. They immediately put Venom into production and announced further films starring other Spider-Man-related characters, like the upcoming Silver and Black featuring Silver Sable and Black Cat.
Since then, there’s been a great deal of confusion over whether Venom ties into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige stating it doesn’t, while Sony producer Amy Pascal said the Spider-Man spinoffs are “adjuncts” to the MCU. Recent reports even stated Tom Holland would appear in Venom – as Peter Parker, not Spider-Man – which indicates Sony’s superhero films are loosely tied into the MCU.
Despite the confusion over Venom’s connection to the MCU, fans of the comic book character have remained excited for a live-action solo movie, hoping it will do justice to the antihero after Topher Grace’s performance as Eddie Brock in Spider-Man 3 left a sour taste in the mouths of many. Now, Sony has released the first teaser trailer for Venom, but instead of stoking the hype flames, it’s receiving criticism for completely lacking any actual Venom; there’s a brief shot of Eddie Brock’s arm being overtaken by a symbiote, but it’s a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment. And there’s a good reason for that. Here’s why Venom was absent.
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Venom isn’t released until October 2018, almost eight months from the first teaser. That’s a long marketing window for any movie, and the reason it’s so early is an opportunistic one on the studio’s part; it’s presumably being released now so that it could be attached to Marvel Studios’ Black Panther, which hits theaters on February 16. As the next Marvel Studios release doesn’t arrive until Avengers: Infinity War in early May, if Sony wanted to have a Venom trailer attached to a related superhero picture, this was their only option.
However, as Hardy revealed on Instagram, Venom only wrapped filming recently. As such, it’s likely Sony didn’t have much time to turn around a full trailer for Venom, let alone put together fans’ first look at the symbiote. Although it’s unclear how exactly Hardy is bringing Venom to life in the movie, we do know there will be motion capture involved (the actor worked with motion capture expert/actor Andy Serkis). This means it’s likely the entire Venom character is mocap, or at the very least his head (something that would be incredibly difficult to pull off with practical effects).
Between Sony wanting to attach a Venom trailer to Black Panther and the fact that bringing Venom to life likely includes a great deal of CGI work, it’s looking like the studio didn’t have time to finish a shot of the symbiote for the trailer. Even if the trailer scenes were from earlier in production (to allow post-production work to begin), it’s a tight window.
However, though a teaser trailer arriving eight months before a movie’s scheduled release was never going to reveal too much, there may be other reasons beyond time for why Sony held back Venom.
Over the last decade, an unprecedented number of superhero movies have been released by Hollywood, prompting many discussions about when superhero fatigue will set in. Though we haven’t yet reached the point of moviegoers feeling too fatigued by superhero films, that’s largely because studios have become more experimental in their approaches to movies about super-powered individuals. Most notably, Twentieth Century Fox has ventured into R-rated superhero movies with Deadpool in 2016, and Logan in 2017. Both were critical and financial successes, and likely paved the way for Sony’s R-rated Venom movie.
Though we don’t yet know for sure whether Venom will be rated R, rumors indicate that’s what the studio was aiming for with the project. And while Deadpool is undoubtedly a superhero movie – albeit with an atypical hero in the Wade Wilson character – Logan was so well received by critics and casual moviegoers because it bucked many superhero movie conventions. It’s a prestige superhero movie of sorts (and has an Oscar nomination to boot). Now, with Sony’s Venom teaser trailer not revealing the titular symbiote and largely steering clear of any super-powered action, it seems to indicate the film is aiming for the same grounded drama approach to a superhero character.
Whether that’s actually the Venom movie Hardy, director Ruben Fleischer and screenwriters Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg have put together remains to be seen. We know that Venom draws inspiration from classic body horror filmmakers John Carpenter and David Cronenberg, so the movie will undoubtedly be different to typical Marvel Studios fare – and may have more in common with Fox’s upcoming horror-tinged release, The New Mutants.
Regardless of what the movie’s trying to be, there’s still no avoiding that the most important aspect of a Venom movie is Venom. Fans of the character are eagerly awaiting what the character will look like when brought to life by Hardy in this film, and no matter if the movie is a prestige superhero flick, a horror take on a comic book character, or something else, that first look will be key to many moviegoers’ excitement for the film. With that said, this first Venom movie trailer isn’t necessarily about appeasing or hyping up fans who are already interested in the movie.
While fans who knew about the Venom movie undoubtedly expected to see the eponymous symbiote shown in the film’s first trailer, this teaser arrives – as already established – a little under eight months ahead of the project hitting theaters. That means Sony has plenty of time for a full-blown marketing blitz – including plenty of scenes and sequences focused on Venom – once we’re closer to the release date. This far out, it’s much more likely that Sony is aiming to build awareness of the movie rather than get those already invested in Venom even more excited.
If this teaser trailer was released so it could be attached to Black Panther, Sony is likely trying to make sure general audiences know that Venom is on the way. This first footage doesn’t necessarily need to reveal Venom, it just needs to make sure moviegoers currently unaware know he is coming eventually. This is important for all films, but especially Venom; Sony has a bit of an uphill battle when it comes to building interest for its first Spider-Man offshoot film in light of all the MCU-related confusion, and so marking it out early hopefully gets ahead of that in the mainstream.
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All this ignores that Sony offering our first look at Venom so ahead of time runs the risk of revealing too much too soon. A teaser trailer is just that, a tease of what’s to come in a full-length trailer. While some fans may be disappointed by the lack of Venom in the first trailer, there are eight months until the movie hits theaters. Sony has plenty of time to perfect the CGI look of the symbiote and reveal it when the time is right.