Venom has long been considered to be a villain in Spider-Man canon and this is why Venom doesn’t quite work as a stand-alone film.
There are various aspects of the film that stay true to the comics. There are other aspects where the film does its own thing. True to fashion, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) was run out of the Daily Globe in New York. There’s no reference in the film to Peter Parker or Spider-Man so we don’t know why. As the film sets up Brock’s character, we learn that he’s host of The Eddie Brock Report.
At the start of the film, Brock is working to take down Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). Drake is the founder of the Life Foundation but Brock thinks he has something on him. This is of course because his girlfriend, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) is a lawyer. In the comics, she’s his ex-wife but let’s just go with this. When Brock finds her months later after he’s fired to figure out what’s up with him, she’s moved on a doctor, Dan Lewis (Reid Scott). How convenient for Eddie.
How the Symbiote came to bond with Eddie Brock goes against everything we know about Marvel history. No reference to Parker. This is a Symbiote that bonds with Brock because of a shared anger for Peter Parker but nothing of that kind is seen here. Instead, it’s an science experiment gone wrong thanks to whistle blower Dora Skirth (Jenny Slate). It’s only when Brock discovers this experiment in which he gets attacked and later discovers he has superpowers. The rest as the say is history.
Drake may have some bold and ambitious ideas but ultimately, he’s the typical Marvel CEO villain. We’ve seen one–we’ve seen them all. He’s the archetypal villain in this regard. Outside of this want to save humanity by turning to space, what is it that drives Drake? I don’t know.
The action really doesn’t get going until we’re nearly an hour into the film. The chase scenes are okay if you like fast cuts that make you dizzy. The whole bonding could have happened quicker. It would have made for a better film, I’m sure. Where the film really goes wrong is lacking of stakes. Like I get that Eddie is hearing things and thinks he’s going crazy but again, we’ve seen this film already in Spider-Man 3. They change it up to an extent in this new non-shared universe.
There are some allusions to Spider-Man canon in that a person named Jameson, probably John of the comics, is an astronaut on the ship that crashes. There’s other Easter eggs, too, be it lines of dialogue taken from the comics, etc.
There are two post-credit scenes. In traditional Marvel history, the first of which obviously sets up the sequel. It’ll likely depend on how much this film brings in even though actor Tom Hardy is signed for a 3-picture deal. The second of which–well, it would be an extreme spoiler to discuss.
To put it simply, Venom is dead on arrival, and missing everything that helps make these films so much fun to watch. Hell, I’d even watch Emo Peter over this mess!
DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer
SCREENWRITERS: Jeff Pinkner & Scott Rosenberg and Kelly Marcel
CAST: Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, and Reid Scott