Exclusive: Sony Developing ‘Venom’ as R-Rated Start to Their Own Marvel Universe

     March 27, 2017

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In a rare bit of Hollywood cooperation between Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures, both studios reached an agreement that will allow them to share–and benefit from–Spider-Man appearing on the big screen. But while Marvel has Tom Holland cast as Peter Parker, who made his introduction in Captain America: Civil War and will be leading Spider-Man: Homecoming, Sony still owns the cinematic portrayals of the web-crawler and something on the order of 900 Marvel characters. It goes without saying that they’d like to capitalize on that intellectual property.

We’re already seeing this happen. Fox example, the recent story that Sony has hired screenwriter Chris Yost (Thor: Ragnarok) to write the script for Spider-Man characters Black Cat and Silver Sable, building on a previous version of the script Lisa Joy (Westworld); Matt Tolmach and Amy Pascal will produce the film previously known as the “secret female spin-off project.” However, there’s also the previously announced Venom standalone film and its recently confirmed release date of October 5, 2018. Scripted by Dante Harper (Alien: Covenant) and produced by Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach, we’re hearing that Sony is developing Venom not only as the film to launch their own Marvel Universe, but as an R-rated effort.

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Image via Marvel Comics

Keep in mind that this is the plan we’re hearing about at the moment and that things could still change between now and late 2018—especially once a director signs on and has his or her own vision—but it’s certainly an interesting approach to building Sony’s Marvel Universe. Andrew Garfield‘s take on Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man films was fine, but apparently not a direction the studio wanted to continue pursuing, despite tallying nearly $1.5 billion from just two films. Instead, the newly retooled Sony’s Marvel Universe will launch with an R-rated Venom that is expected to keep its budget modest. It sounds like Sony’s taking notes on the successes of both the MCU and 20th Century Fox’s Deadpool and Logan, and applying them to their own substantial stable of superheroes and supervillains.

Let’s be clear: Sony’s Marvel Universe will not be connected to the MCU in any way (sorry, Guardians of the Galaxy fans, but a Venom crossover is highly dubious) and the planned Venom and Black Cat and Silver Sable films are all part of Sony’s own shared universe, not spin-offs of any existing films. Marvel’s Kevin Feige has nothing to do with these films; it’s Tom Rothman, chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group, who’s calling the shots. The announcement of Venom‘s release date tells us that the execs are happy with the script and the new direction they’re embarking on, but with no director set for either film, obviously things can still change since all of the announced films are still in development.

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Image via Marvel Comics

What I really want to hear more about is Venom‘s tone and story. An R-rating allows for a lot of room for creativity, but just how are they going to bring the alien symbiote into the story? (And, no, Life is not a Venom prequel.) I’m not sure how Venom is going to be introduced without Spider-Man acting as its first known host, unless Sony’s either going off-book with the introduction or will mention this origin story of sorts in a passing manner. What I can see is Venom being a really interesting horror film in which the alien symbiote is a parasitic entity driving its hosts insane, or even more interesting, a revenge tale in which its host uses the powers and abilities granted to him (or her) to exact vengeance, similar to the plot of Death Note. And who will it focus on, Eddie Brock, Mac Gargan, Ann Weying, or maybe even just Peter Parker? (Probably not Deadpool…) In other words, I don’t know how Sony will pull off a supervillain-focused film, but I’m very interested in seeing what they come up with.

Are you down with an R-rated Venom? Are you happy to hear that Sony is kicking off their own Marvel Universe? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

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