Sony Pictures recently released a lengthy second trailer for Venom, the non-Spider-Man Spider-Man spinoff in which Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) symbiotically bonds with an alien ball of Gak that gives him super-strength, slime-tentacles, and an appetite for mugger pancreas. A lot going on here, folks, and that’s before you get to the very end of the trailer, which features a line from the Venom symbiote so sublimely stupid that it rounds back to being flawless art. Collider usually sets a firm 50,000-word limit on opening paragraphs so I can’t adequately describe it’s absurd beauty in this space, so here it is word-for-word:
We will eat both your arms, and then both of your legs, and then we will eat your face right off your head. You will be this armless, legless, faceless little thing, won’t you? Rolling down the street like a turd in the wind.
In the wind.
There’s so much to unpack there. I could write a thesis. Would a turd in the wind even go anywhere? (The average wind speed in San Francisco is 7mph and Venom creator Todd McFarlane has not responded to multiple inquiries into the weight of the character’s turds.) If a monstrous, gooey abomination with razor sharp teeth suddenly used the word “turd” to threaten you, could you stop yourself from chuckling just a little? Is Tom Hardy aware he doesn’t have to talk like that? So many questions, so many layers, and yet, and yet, the “turd in the wind” line is, at my last reporting, being viciously dunked on across social media and various pop culture critic circles.
I am here today to explain that “rolling down the street like a turd in the wind” is Good, Actually, for the reasons I will lay out here forthwith:
1. That Line Is Hilarious
Come on. Come on. I know that we live in an age where every other release is a comic book movie and not everyone enjoys their caped-and-cowled characters in the same way. But I worry that we’re taking for granted that Tom Hardy, encased in an alien slime monster suit and using a voice I assume he crafted by watching Charlie Kelly rants and drinking Mezcal, threatens to eat a man’s face off his head—the logistics of which astound me—by calling that man a turd. A turd. That is objectively funny and anyone who thinks otherwise is an undercover cop.
2. That Line Is Incredibly On-Brand
The Venom character—at least, the character you picture when you think of Venom—is the product of a very specific time in comic books. The idea for the Symbiote and the black Spider-Man suit was dreamed up in 1988, but the archetypal Venom—the bulging muscles, the claws, the uncomfortably sensual tongue—is a product of the 1990s. And in the 1990s, comic books were Extreme. No, Xtreme. Every book had an X added to the title, even the X-Men. Every character had a machine gun now, and that machine gun was also a sword that was on fire. While a lot of that aesthetic doesn’t hold up—female characters were drawn with a very misinformed idea of the way spines work—the Venom character is rooted in a very certain brand of stupidity. I say that mostly as a compliment. Much of the 90’s were a big, loud, stupid time for comics, and a ten-foot-tall space beast would definitely, for sure, 100% called someone a turd in the wind without regard to the physics of such an insult.
3. That Line Is Hilarious
Just want to reiterate.
4. Marvel Would Never
Marvel would never. Look, by now Marvel Studios has this thing down to a gosh darn science. For better or worse, they know how to make a superhero movie that appeals to everyone, all at once. But Marvel’s storytelling revolves fully around the idea that their characters are the coolest. All of the time. Groot is a tree and he’s cool as shit. Even Marvel’s more “racy” humor, like Peter Quill’s spaceship looking like a Jackson Pollock painting under a blacklight, makes them look cool. Marvel would never let one of their characters look as singularly un-cool as Venom does saying “turd in the wind.” And that’s what it is, by the way; I feel like a lot of negativity toward that line comes from the idea it’s supposed to be earnestly badass, which ignores the odd-couple tone of the rest of the trailer. It’s not badass. It’s an alien from another planet melding minds with down-on-his-luck, incredibly sweaty newspaper reporter to try and sound tough. It is a decidedly un-Marvel-like moment, which these days feels like a breath of fresh air. Or, you know, not so fresh.
Check out the trailer below and form your opinion. Please be aware that I respect your right to disagree, as long as you respect my right to believe that makes you a turd.
A turd in the wind.