Warning: Venom spoilers are discussed in this interview.
Shortly before Venom arrived in theaters, I sat down with producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach for a spoiler-filled conversation about the making of the film and future projects. Now that the film has been out for a little while, we can dive into all of the specifics, including why certain decisions were made.
During the interview, Arad and Tolmach talked about Easter eggs you may have missed, the decision to include She-Venom, if they ever thought about making Venom R-rated, if they battled the MPAA for the PG-13 rating, how they landed Woody Harrelson for Carnage, why they decided to attach a scene from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse at the end of Venom, the status of Morbius with Jared Leto and the possible rating, the status of the next Jumanji sequel, and a lot more.
Check out what they had to say below.
Venom follows disgraced reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) who comes into contact with an alien symbiote that turns him into the creature known as “Venom”. The film also stars Riz Ahmed as Dr. Carlton Drake, Michelle Williams as Anne Weying, Jenny Slate as a scientist working for Drake, and Reid Scott as a doctor trying to help Brock.
Collider: The first thing that I’m curious about is Easter eggs. Is there any reference in the movie to Peter Parker or Spider-Man and did I miss it?
AVI ARAD: Yes, you missed it. He’s sitting with a girl, right?
You’re talking about Tom Hardy?
MATT TOLMACH: Yeah.
ARAD: Okay, and Michelle, right?
TOLMACH: In the restaurant. And she says, “You don’t want to repeat.” Right?
ARAD: “We don’t want a repeat of New York.” Then, the other reference, his boss at the network.
Let me backtrack. I meant, is there anything with Daily Bugle? Is there anything with Spider-Man, not just the New York reference?
ARAD: Well, the newspaper where he worked last, before he came out, is in this dinner, okay? And then, you have John Jameson is the astronaut.
TOLMACH: That’s the guy who, in the beginning, has the Symbiote.
ARAD: You missed it?
Completely missed it.
TOLMACH: So Drake says, “Is that Jameson?”
ARAD: Aren’t you happy you came in?
TOLMACH: You gotta’ go see the move again. This interview is over.
The first time you watch a movie you’re just trying to pay attention.
TOLMACH: I totally agree with you.
Are there other Easter eggs for comic book fans that people can look for, because obviously the two of you are hoping to bring to life, a number of other properties, in the Spider-Man universe.
ARAD: Well, I think the biggest plant of seed is Woody [Harrelson].
TOLMACH: What happens at the end of the movie.
Oh, that’s a whole thing we’re going to talk about in a second.
ARAD: Other than that, the only thing that if you are an uber fan of planet of the Symbiote, you will worry about the next invasion.
ARAD: Because that’s what it’s about, that planet of the Symbiotes.
A lot of people want to know about the rating. Was there ever a version of the script, and the story, that you guys envisioned as an R-rated movie? I understand both sides of the coin. I understand PG-13 fits in with Spider-Man, and that’s the Marvel mantra, but we’ve also seen success at the box office, with R-rated movies, with the Deadpool universe.
ARAD: Here is the mindset, very simple. Mindset is, you make the best movie about Venom and Eddie you can. If the difference between biting someone’s head, and seeing the blood drooling and piled on the floor, you pick up, put it back in your mouth, or making it a moment that he said, “Ah, that’s a bad guy, right?” Yeah, and then he does this, right? That’s PG-13. So, we wanted to push the movie into the darkness it deserves on one hand, but the fun scene of the fish out of water, the meeting of Eddie, and Venom, and it’s a buddy movie. The two of them got together, they influenced each other, and they created moments of levity.
TOLMACH: The answer to your question is, we always intended to make a PG-13 movie. There’s a narrative out there that there’s some R rated cut line somewhere.
I never thought that.
TOLMACH: No, we’ve heard that today. Which is cool, for people to have theories. We always wanted to literally take it as far as you could go. In England, I think we’re a 15 plus. That’s how we saw this that, there’s a crazy, rabid fan base of young people, that love it. When I say young people, teenagers, 12-year-olds, 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds, who love Venom, and then there’s a crazy rabid fan base of old people like us, who love the character. So, how do you serve both? IYou go as hard as you can, at PG 13.
But also, in the bones of our movie, you’ve seen it. We wanted to make a movie that was fun, popcorn, all of that, but that had the intensity of Venom. So, the effort every day was to try to push it, and push it, and push it, but not go so far, as Avi saying, into the realm of R.
The MPAA, you can’t say this, but I can, is a full of shit operation. It’s terrible.
ARAD: How dare you.
TOLMACH: We won’t quote you on that.
I’ll say it, so you don’t have to, but I’m curious. Did you have any sort of battle, over any frames, that you needed to pull back a frame or two, to keep the PG 13?