The first trailer for Ruben Fleischer's Venom, starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, has arrived - and it's left a lot of people underwhelmed. The movie wrapped principal photography two weeks ago, which means that post-production has only just begun. That definitely shows in this teaser trailer, which was rushed out to accompany the release of Marvel's Black Panther.
The biggest disappointment for many fans is that the teaser doesn't have a single shot that actually features Venom. The closest we get is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it glimpse of Eddie Brock's arm going symbiote, a shot of the symbiote in a container, and the final shot of black veins creeping up his neck. Some have argued that this is a smart play by Sony - making it a real teaser by not giving too much away - but the far more likely explanation is that there simply aren't any finished FX shots of Venom yet.
Indeed, the trailer seems to be cobbled together from the only scraps of footage that are actually ready, as opposed to scenes that were carefully selected to get fans and general audiences hyped. There's a generic aerial shot of the Golden Gate bridge that lasts for four seconds; six seconds of the trailer are dedicated to a shot of Eddie Brock walking down a street, then another shot of him walking into a convenience store; and the biggest chunk of the trailer is made up of a scene where Eddie lies in a scanner, unconscious, then wakes up and freaks out. Sony appears to have vastly over-estimated the "wow!" factor of watching Tom Hardy sleep.
Venom is not the kind of movie that can afford to make a bad first impression (or, in this case, a forgettable first impression). It's already facing the considerable challenge of taking a villain character who is almost entirely defined by his relationship with Spider-Man, and giving him a solo movie that isn't allowed to show Spider-Man. Venom needs to carve out an identity for itself, but the first trailer looks so bland and generic that many have said it looks like a fan-made trailer - pieced together using footage from other movies. Even the monologue is generic, making vague allusions to life-changing events and having "demons."
A teaser trailer doesn't necessarily need to show the movie's monster, but what it does need to do is give audiences something to latch onto - something that intrigues them, excites them, and gives them an idea of the movie's overall feel. Since Venom's first trailer is limited to shots that were finished, as opposed to the best possible shots to represent the movie without giving too much away, it just doesn't have a hook. Much of what's in it - the vehicle crashes, the shot of Hardy running through a forest, even the creeping black neck veins - could belong to just about any sci-fi/action movie.
Sony's rush to have a trailer out in time for Black Panther is understandable, but ultimately it was a mistake that has fumbled Venom's first introduction to both comic book fans and wider audiences. The good news, at least, is that this boring trailer doesn't necessarily mean that Venom itself will be boring, and Sony still has eight months to turn the movie's marketing around. It's just a shame that the rush to meet a deadline has resulted in Venom starting off on the back foot.
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