I don’t do these a lot, but once in a while a film comes around that really makes me want to dig into the preview and considering this IS Marvel Month for Cinema Spotlight I decided to take a closer look at the just released new full-length trailer for Sony’s attempt at squeezing whatever they can out of their Spider-Man properties, “Venom”. With Tom Hardy in the lead role and a legion of fans hoping to see the character done justice “Venom” has a lot of pressure on its shoulders for success. Does the first full-length trailer live up to that hype? Let’s break it down! Don’t forget the check out the trailer for yourself at the end of this post and let me know what you think in the comments below.
The trailer opens with a shot of what appears to be a crash site of some sort, likely the origin of the symbiote that will bond with Eddie Brock to make the titular anti-hero. We hear a voiceover narration by Dr. Carlton Drake, played by Riz Ahmed, who will be an integral part of the film as the scientist who experiments on the symbiote. He says “history starts today” which plays into how his character is using the symbiote to try and advance humanity in some way. This is a pretty neat and smooth introduction to a character from the comics who is knowledgeable of the sumbiote and seems to understand it just as well in the film. We also get a shot of Drake opening the back of truck, revealing a contained symbiotes, that’s right plural. It immediately says there will be more than one of these things in the movie and if you’ve been following the casting news for the film you’ll know Venom will have his work cut out for him.
We then get our first look at Eddie Brock, played by Tom Hardy, who is talking with his apparent love interest Anne Weying, played by Michelle Williams. Brock pretty bluntly labels Drake as a villain and it’s made clear that the two lovebirds don’t quite see eye to eye on the extremism of Drake’s potential “evil”. Weying asks Brock to “behave himself” to which Brock says he will “do his job”. In the comics Brock is a journalist and is even a rival to Peter Parker in many adaptations. Here it looks like he’ll be going solo trying to track down the truth of Dr. Drake’s research. The trailer also shows a glamor shot of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, effectively soporating it from Spider-Man’s world in New York the same way the comics did when Venom took on his own story. While these are small moments they are important ones that give us an understanding of the setting and of Brock’s motivations and his personality. He’s a hard core writer and one with a bit of an attitude and aggressive approach but most of all the word “evil” seems to be a nasty term for him to use so when he says it we know he’s sincere and means it.
The next thing we see is Brock putting his aggressive approach to the test. He corners Drake and asks him about the questionable practices at the facility which ends the interview pretty quickly. What we can surmise from this is that Brock will try to do his own research, infiltrating the facility and eventually being infected with the symbiote himself. While there’s not a WHOLE lot in this trailer to show how he does this there is a lot of evidence that this is the direction the story will take. Brock also makes a particularly interesting accusation that Drake recruits vulnerable people for his tests. We don’t see enough of Brock in this trailer to determine if he himself is vulnerable or if he is a stronger person than most test subjects but it’s safe to say that this statement is probably in the trailer to note that Brock could be the first person who has enough willpower to control the symbiote once infected.
After being thrown out of the interview we see Brock meet up with an unnamed character played by Jenny Slate who he seems to accuse to sneaking up on him and failing to hide in plain sight. She claims to be from the Life Foundation, Dr. Drake’s organization, and voices concern with Drake’s research on the symbiotes. This is probably the tipping point in the film that pushes Brock to do his own independent research into the situation. It’s also the first time we hear the word “symbiote” in the trailer albeit the pronunciation of the name will probably go over horribly with fans as in nearly every adaptation of the Venom character the word is pronounced differently. These kinds of changes are usually either a sign of poor creative licence to a filmmakers unwillingness to stick to even the smallest of details from the source material which are usually the first things fans look for to decide ahead of time if the movie is worth the watch. Anyways, Slates’ character lays out Drake’s belief that the symbiotes could usher in a new era of human evolution and this is layered with images of the symbiote attacking likely innocent test subjects and Drake presenting a pretty nasty grin that drives home the extreme nature of his experimentation.
Next we see what appears to be Brock within the compound before he is attacked by a woman who we can only assume it infected with the symbiote. This is likely where the transfer happens that begins Brock’s transformation into Venom. He returns home after the incident feeling sick and we get our first sound of Venom’s voice which seems to be driving Brock crazy. Things move quickly from here as a group of mercenaries or assassins show up to reclaim “Mr. Drake’s property” and we finally get to see some Venom action. Brock sprouts black tentacles against his own will and takes out the mercenaries quickly. It’s made obvious this wasn’t Brock’s doing, this was venom preserving his host. Brock even says “why would WE do that”. So the film will thankfully explore the duel-personality approach to Venom including the conversations between the symbiote and Brock himself that are so relevant in the comics and will maintain the tentacle powers and truly symbiotic relationship of the characters as well. On the surface it looks like the filmmakers have succeeded in the most important ways in their alleged attempts to follow the source material.
The next moment Brock is talking to, well himself but really the symbiote telling Venom that he can only hurt “bad people”. However it appears Brock will have to work hard to maintain control of the symbiote because Venom quickly shows the ability to fully control Brock’s body, even pinning him to a wall and telling Brock “we can do whatever WE want”. This teases a potentially interesting dynamic between the two as Venom seems to be more reckless while Brock seems to be more pure, cautious and heroic. This could work GREAT if the movie tackles it properly because developing the relationship between Brock and Venom would play well off the theme of the character in general, the “I need you and you need me” concept of a symbiotic relationship. A battle of what morals they will follow and how far they are willing to go as a team could make for a pretty cool origin story.
We get some intriguing action scenes that are mostly just noise in the context of the trailer overlapped with an early tagline for the film “embrace your inner anti-hero” which again is promising because if done right we could see the complex Venom that’s kind of evil and kind of not from the comics brought to life. Venom has ridden the line between good and bad for much of his existence so if the story is truly going to try and stay true to the source material they are going to have to tackle the struggle between host and monster. With a tagline like that this is exactly what this origin tale could see. We even get a moment where Brock flies off of a motorcycle in midair only to have Venom shoot tentacles to bring him back. So if nothing else this trailer nails it into our heads that Brock and venom will be a team, not just one or the other, and hopefully we’ll see that pay off.
Then we get the moment we’ve been waiting for. Brock looks cornered, like he’s about to be taken out by a mercenary, when the symbiote takes over and we finally get to see venom form and spout his famous phrase “we are Venom”. I have to say the design looks AWESOME. Seeing Venom form gave me a chill down my spine. He’s creepy, he looks like a true-blue dangerous predator and throughout the trailer we got a glimpse at his personality so finally SEEING him feels intimidating as he looks absolutely terrifying. This was the payoff the trailer needed to get us excited for what’s to come and it’s the one aspect that makes me truly excited to see what else Sony has worked up for this standalone product.
All that said I’m a little mixed on what to think about the film simply from this trailer alone. The tone seems weird and honestly there’s not a whole lot of substance to appreciate almost like the movie isn’t even finished yet, but there is promise. It almost feels like the kind of superhero film we’d see in the 90s. It’s dark and dreary and appears to be a pretty violent depiction of Venom with elements and abilities true to the character worked in. I’m cautiously optimistic because there is the potential for some great character development and Venom’s design looks awesome, but there’s also a lot to be desired. We have yet to see Woody Harrelson as Carnage or really get a full understanding of the overall plot of the film other than Brock’s crusade to expose Dr. Drake’s research. I know trailers have to leave something to the imagination, but I don’t feel like this first real look at “Venom” does quite enough to live up to the hype. It won’t deter me from seeing it, but it is underwhelming. Hopefully future sneak peaks will offer a better look at what’s to come.