Lainey emailed me about the new Venom trailer with this note about Tom Hardy’s acting choices: “Why does he always have to play characters where you can’t understand what the f*ck he’s saying?” Tom Hardy loves to do silly voices, as he always does one. He loves silly voices like Johnny Depp loves scarves and Leonardo DiCaprio loves 23 year old models. I noted the Venom silly voice when the teaser dropped back in February. Tom Hardy is a very good actor and known to scrap with his directors, so I imagine confronting him can be difficult, but I would just once like to see a director tell Tom Hardy to knock it off with the silly voices. I would like to be able to understand him, and also I live in fear of his upcoming Al Capone Chicago accent.
I believe Tom Hardy agreed to do Venom because it lets him do TWO silly voices: Eddie Brock’s Mike Tyson-ish voice and Venom’s Batman voice. This trailer gives us a lot of both of Hardy’s performances—and silly voices—and they both look…interesting. I think this is the trailer Sony premiered at Comic-Con, but they (smartly) waited to release it until after the trailer pile-up had cleared and they could dominate the headlines for a bit. At Comic-Con, Hardy said he took on Venom “for his son”, which is interesting because I’m pretty sure Venom ate that dude at the end. We need to put a moratorium on claiming to do superhero movies because you have kids especially when the character you play devours people, like that’s his whole deal, that he eats people. Besides, you did it for the silly voices, be honest, Tom.
These trailers have not been good, and while there is always a chance bad trailers can turn into good movies, I’ll be surprised if Venom works out. It looks like 1997’s favorite movie and it lacks the bonkers edge of the dumb-fun Aquaman trailer. Mostly it looks gross. I think this might be a character that works better in animation, because the live-action reality of a tar monster consuming Tom Hardy and then licking people’s faces—and, presumably, eating them, too—is deeply unpleasant. Venom swings between looking ridiculous and triggering my gag reflex. The cast is amazing, but something about Venom is striking me as misguided. Maybe it needs to be R rated? Like just a straight up body horror movie. I am also having a really hard time seeing Tom Holland’s adorkable Peter Parker fitting in with this take on Venom. It didn’t work in Spider-Man 3, which maybe is a warning.
It almost doesn’t matter if the movie is good, though, because it’s late to the party. There have been five superhero movies this year already, including The Incredibles 2, and I think people are done spending money on superhero movies. We’ve seen it in years past—when there are a lot of superhero movies in one year, the last few to come out just don’t do as well. I won’t call it “fatigue” when three of the five movies have crossed $1 billion at the box office (Infinity War has, in fact, crossed $2 billion), but there is definitely a limit to the appetite and at this point, I think it’s safe to say it has been reached. Look no further than the box office for Ant-Man and the Wasp, which is merely adequate (no one was expecting a bonanza, but even by reasonable standards it’s not exactly wowing anyone). So besides the hills of Tom Hardy’s unintelligible silly voices and a kind of gross live action effect, Venom also has to climb the hill of audience disinterest. I’m sure having a character say “turd” will do the trick.