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A Brief History of Venom in Cinema

Venom Dog

To anyone expecting this to be a page about biting or stinging insects in movies, sorry, Dindrane. And to anyone thinking this is one of the myriad other films that have been titled “Venom,” well, sorry again.

No, we’re talking everybody’s favorite black goo. Yes, even more popular than the black goo that gave us The Beverly Hillbillies, it’s the alien symbiote known as Venom. Now that Sony actually appears to be trying to spin this off from Spider-Man into its own film, I thought it might be prudent to give you a quick rundown on how we got here. After all, the Venom project is the one that I consistently bring up at conventions to impress upon people that comic book publishers and movie studios don’t always think things through. Because how do you create a movie about Venom in which Spider-Man cannot be mentioned at all?

(Sidebar: I used the Spi-Dog Venom image because all the Venom pics I could find were very boring.)

[ad#longpost]Well, what happened is at the time (this was eleven years ago, long before the Spidey movie finally got its shit together and appeared), MGM had the rights to Spider-Man. And New Line Cinema picked up the rights to Venom…by himself. Well, and Carnage too, since Venom was to be the anti-hero and Carnage to be the full-on villain. David S. Goyer, yes, storyman behind the new lovely Batman films, apparently scripted it up. Back at Corona’s Coming Attractions, we were told that Goyer had the symbiote just fall to earth in a meteor, like the kind what killed Jordy Verrill. But I never saw the draft, so I can’t confirm. Because lots of villains are inextricably tied to their heroes–Joker and Batman, Luthor and Superman–but I don’t know that we’ve seen one before where the villain started off as the hero’s costume. Would love to read that draft.

Goyer mentioned back in 1998 that the film had gone into limbo. And back in 2000, I contacted Michael DeLuca at New Line and asked him what the status was. He said at the time that the project had been dropped by New Line. But he couldn’t tell us where had ended up. So when we at Corona put out the call at the time for aid, we got confirmation: it had finally moved back to Marvel where it belonged, so it could be included in a Spidey movie like any sane person would do.

So fast forward to today, where Sony had gotten Jacob Estes to write a draft and isn’t happy, so is going for a new draft and a new writer. Topher Grace played the character in the film but could be recast. Here’s my favorite favorite part of the article: “The fact that [Venom] is a substance rather than a character could give Sony leeway to cast a new actor.”

Um. Studios see every character as a substance rather than a character. That’s the problem.