Welcome to Breaking Geek, column that just won’t go away, where uber-geek Nick Doll offers commentary and reactions to the most interesting news of the week (or whatever he feels like), using his expansive knowledge of all things geek! Today’s Topic: Venom and the MCU.
There were always two fears about how Sony would try to leverage their Spider-Man deal with Marvel Studios following the end of the character’s five-film “lease” to the studio, covering Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4, and Spider-Man: Far From Home.
One fear, which will be covered by fellow LRM writer and my friend, Seth McDonald, very soon, is that Sony would take back Tom Holland as Spider-Man following the end of his Marvel Cinematic Universe tenure and join Sony’s “In Association With Marvel” Universe aka the VenomVerse, should said Universe be profitable. Marvel Studios built the character up with all the MCU goodwill, and Sony would ram it into the ground as long as this version of Spider-Man stayed profitable and they had a profitable universe to introduce him into, as they now do.
Seeing as how Seth will be covering that (look for that post soon!), I instead explore the impossibility of what was surely their “Plan B” in case Venom didn’t make a big profit, incorporating their latest version of Venom into the MCU. Tom Hardy’s Venom.
Which, honestly, for several reasons is a near impossibility.
Why Would Marvel Studios Want To Taint Their Brand With Mediocrity?
I didn’t like Venom. Hell, I F–cking hated the film, an even bigger insult to my original favorite comic character than Spider-Man 3. And I’m not the only one; though fans have been more positive than critics, Venom does sit at 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, whereas the worst two worst-reviewed MCU films are rightfully Thor: The Dark World at 66% and The Incredible Hulk at 67%. Those are some red tomatoes!
Why would Kevin Feige welcome a character from a rotten tomato into his beautiful basket? The Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t absolutely demolish the DC Extended Universe because audiences liked the characters more, it’s a pillar of quality. Few studios have achieved this level of consistent quality films; Pixar is one of the only ones I can think of, and they haven’t been as golden lately with The Good Dinosaur and Cars sequels.
If Feige wants his hands on Venom, he’ll expect a reboot of the character. History has taught us that, looking at a similar situation with Andrew Garfield after The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I likewise don’t think we’ll be seeing any Fox actors crossing over to Disney when the X-Men come to town, save for the cast of X-Force. Marvel Studios can cast the other characters all better. Write them better. Make them look more like a comic book. But that’s harder to do with a different Studios’ ascetic.
Plus, if you appreciate these characters as much as Feige, you may rather die than let Venom’s origin be butchered so, in a way that eliminates half the character’s interesting motivation, traits, and powers.
Maybe not die, but I do think Feige is willing to lose Spider-Man rather than have to work with Sony on a closer level by crossing over with Venom. Plus, that’s a slippery slope… soon you’re stuck with Jared Leto as Morbius and one of the worst wigs in cinema history on Woody Harelson.
Marvel Studio has all the power here. They can make just as much money with Spider-Man as without, as I believe they have learned recently.
But, there’s another reason, a more important reason, as to why I feel Tom Hardy’s Venom must be excluded from the MCU…
Venom Movie Doesn’t Jive At All With The MCU
I know what you’re thinking, “Venom didn’t clearly state it wasn’t in the MCU and left space for incorporation into the MCU through ambiguity. It avoided references yes, but didn’t undermine the storyline of the other…”
You’re wrong. The film does not just ignore, but contradicts the MCU enough that the only way it would make sense to bring Venom into the MCU would be throwing him through a rip in the Universe, as Sony most likely plans to do to bring Holland’s Spidey “back home” with Amy Pascal.
We’ll start by looking at how well or poorly Marvel Studios has handled their Universe’s continuity. Ignoring the TV, ‘cause we’re not talkin’ ‘bout a Venom show, we talkin’ movies!
There have obviously been missteps in the MCU, Easter Eggs like the Infinity Gauntlet in Odin’s treasure room in Phase 1’s Thor before there was a plan on how and why Thanos would take it from Asgard. When we saw Thanos get his Gauntlet during the mid-credits sequence after Avengers: Age of Ultron, suddenly there was an even bigger issue. Marvel Studios has done their best to retcon these mistakes, like making the Infinity Gauntlet in Odin’s treasure room a knockoff.
There are glaring mistakes like saying Spider-Man: Homecoming is set eight years after The Avengers, which baffles me, and a few casting inconsistencies, some as minor as who played older Howard Stark on the cover of a magazine in Iron Man vs. John Slattery playing him going forward. Still, Marvel has worked hard to have as few inconsistencies as possible over ten years and twenty scripts. Venom is a total inconsistency.
We’ll look at just a few specific examples…
Yes, anyone would freak out when a giant monster begins biting the heads off cops, but why is everyone in this film so shocked aliens exist, if this is possibly the MCU?
The main scene I think of is when the Symbiotes are explained to Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) by whatever-the-hell Jenny Slate’s character’s name was (not even worth a Google). “You mean like aliens?” Brock quips in surprise (more or less, I paraphrased).
Okay… maybe the old lady at the end of the film isn’t completely freaking out when Brock turns into Venom and back because she’s aware of the Battle of New York and Thor and all the other freaky s–t going down on Earth. But… this movie sure doesn’t feel like anyone has ever seen an alien. Wouldn’t Michelle Williams’ character be even quicker to believe Brock if she knew about all the weird s–t that clearly made the news in the last 8 or so years?
Now, let’s look at Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the film’s baddie. I don’t think he’s sending ships into space to find more alien life after learning about it from the Battle of New York. In fact, wouldn’t you be less likely to send ships into space knowing they could be obliterated by an alien ship? Or less likely to use a ship for evil if you know Tony Stark can take you down in a suit?
Let’s talk about space flight in the MCU: Practically none of it by Earthling vessels. I think Hulk’s Quinjet and Iron Man’s latest suit are the only pieces of human tech we’ve seen leave the atmosphere, in the films. Sure, they must have a system similar to ours or better, as we do achieve space flight, but why is Drake’s shuttle that advanced? You can launch it from outside his office window? What?
Also, why would the Symbiotes be happy with Brock and Drake? If Riot saw the news on his way to San Fran, he’d hightail it to Avengers HQ to grab him a superhuman. Venom would also obviously prefer a super being, like, say, Spider-Man?
Finally, though it is very possible not to run into one another, at first it feels smart to take Brock away from New York to San Francisco (as he does for a similar storyline in the comics), until you remember Ant-Man, Wasp, and Hank Pym. I feel like Pym would have a few negative ideas about the Life Foundation, even before Brock’s story broke.
It is still conceivable Venom could eventually be a part of the MCU, similar to the way the Netflix shows are the MCU? I don’t think so. It would feel really forced to later say, “Yeah, this is continuity. Deal with it.”
It is for those two reasons I think Tom Hardy’s Venom will NEVER be in the MCU, even if Sony wanted it so.
Thank you for attending my TED talk. I will now be taking questions.