Will the Venom spin-off film be any good?

So, the writers of Zombieland have been commissioned to make a Venom spin-off film. This is one occasion when I'm with the Hollywood execs. They pushed Sam Raimi to include the character in Spider-man 3 when he hates old Eddie and didn't want to do it. In the end, it turned out to be the best part of the film, despite Raimi's resistance.

Todd MacFarlane created Venom in his run on “S-man” (I prefer the 2099 nickname to the irritatingly twee “Spidey”) and then went on to spearhead a comic-book revolution with Spawn - obviously a character that took great influence from Venom, with its living costume – setting up his own Dark Horse imprint that temporarily threatened his former Marvel bosses' business. Venom still remains S-man's best nemesis, far more interesting than the retro Green Goblin, even when you update it into a Power Ranger.

The problem is that Sam Raimi is into S-man's original run from the sixties. Don't get me wrong, they were genre-defining books, but they have aged so badly. These are stories from back when comics were for kids, when S-man created baseball bats out of his webbing and had a “spider-mobile” jeep! These would not make good films, which is why it is so irritating that Raimi can see that in so many ways, but not in the characters.

He chose, wisely, to go for the 2099 update that gave the character a plausible reason to stick to walls and spin webs; his mutation, logically, gave him immensely strong claws/hairs that allowed him to hook to walls and web-spinning organs in his arms. The only concession is that he doesn't fire them out of his arse. In the original comics Peter sticks to walls with a sort-of magnetism and, despite being a poor 16-year old, invents a hi-tech device that fires webs from his wrists. This may work in the more-forgiving comics genre, but not in a film; not if you expect to attract the casual viewer. So, I applaud Raimi's choice here.

What he's failed to realise is that the majority of S-man's villains are simply rubbish. Batman has the Joker, Superman has Lex Luthor, Tony Stark had Obediah Stane (mainly the Mandarin, but we'll ignore that), Daredevil has the Kingpin and Typhoid Mary, S-man has the Green Goblin and a man who can turn in to sand! Even those enemies - like Gobbie and Doc Ock - who have been given pathos as the comics progressed, are still bat's-arse stupid in their archetype, no matter how much they're ret-coned. Some more-modern enemies would have granted the films the adult edge to compete with Dark Knight.

That's where the darker villains come in; Venom and Carnage being at the forefront of that. Raimi, surprisingly for a former horror maestro, is too squeamish to enjoy Venom's darkness and genuine threat. If he can turn the birth of Doc Ock into a scene from a horror, why can't he embrace that edginess for the whole series? Who knows.

As such, you would think I would be excited about a Venom film, seeing as the execs are hoping to get a proper interpretation of the character - I'm not; for one very simple reason: Venom is a bad guy. In fact, he is the ultimate bad guy; that's what he should be. Many attempts have been made in the comics to make him an anti-hero, always resulting in short runs and dropping-off sales. Venom only works as a villain for S-man; with the fact that he is what Peter could have become if he hadn't given up the suit, and the symbiote's upset at being rejected fuelling its hatred of S-man, acting as pathos. Individually, out of the context of the S-man comics, I don't think the Venom film would work.

What do you think?

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