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Venom illustrates why standalone movies about villains don't work


Comic book villains have stories that are better told when juxtaposed with the hero's story. It's a formula that works in making these types of movies. For some reason, I keep hearing talk of standalone Doctor Doom, Joker and Harley Quinn movies, even though there's no huge swell of support from fans.
That's not to say that these characters aren't popular. They are beloved. But that isn't a reason to build a movie around a solo villain. What defines a villain is the hero and vise-versa. Venom may be a case study. Fans love Venom but only in the context of his hated foe Spider-man and the world they both inhabit. The same goes for Joker. Would you really care about Joker if his world didn't include Batman? They are each other's yin and yang. If one doesn't exist, the other has nothing to do that's really all that interesting.
In making a Venom movie, I can't imagine what they were going for in terms of story. Since there's no Spider-man for Venom to oppose, there's no conflict on a equal level with a worthy protagonist. How these studios like Sony and WB can't grasp this simple formula for bringing comic book characters to life is beyond me. How can we know this and they not know it.
Sadly, it looks like Venom is going to suffer from not having a defined arch-enemy and a muddled story. Such a shame for such a good character.

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I feel the same way. Catwoman and Venom don't work unless they can play off Batman and Spider-Man. It's also why I have little faith in the new Joker movie.

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Catwoman works because she is an antihero.

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You thought the Halle Berry Catwoman movie was good? You're the biggest snob on this board. I can't fathom why you liked that movie.

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I enjoy that movie but I thought you meant Catwoman as a character, which does work or would work on any media since she's the original antihero.

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I don't know what you mean by "original" anti-hero, but a character archetype doesn't mean a movie will or will not work. She was created specifically to be a foil for another character, as were Venom, Joker, etc. All three characters mentioned had their own comic series at one point or another, but they didn't last despite the popularity of the characters.

The reason why people are invested in them is because they make good enemies to a hero. In order to work properly, you have to have someone to play off of. A filmmaker either has to have a movie in which a supervillain runs around the city committing crimes with no antagonist to create conflict, turn the villain into a hero of some sort, or just have some random police officers turn up to try to apprehend them. Having Venom and Joker go around killing people without a turns it into a generic horror flick about yet another alien monster or a killer clown. Catwoman just turns into a generic thief movie. Turning these characters into heroic figures goes against their entire concepts, making the movies pointless. They only work if they have a counter.

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I agree, case in point, Maleficent, it's impossible to make a movie about a villain unless it's softened somehow but this doesn't apply to Catwoman because she's always been an anti-hero and has never been malicious outside of stealing, and she has had independent running comics that have worked out very well.

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Actually, her first several appearances had her as a typical villain. It wasn't until the Batman TV show that she started to become more of an anti-hero. I guess if she was a Robin Hood-type character, it could work, although it'd be strange that she dresses up like a cat. You'd have to throw in a super villain or something to make it make sense.

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Movies like Catwoman didn't work mainly because of bad acting and a bad story. I would agree that the superhero foil is a valuable element and uplifts otherwise mediocre filmmaking, but I don't think it's a necessary adjunct to a good movie that prominently features a supervillain. The real problem is a lack of imagination and talent in many of these ventures, a tendency toward cookie cutter garbage that marketers seem to think would succeed for reasons known only to them.

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It was a massive fail not doing Secret Wars and introducing Venom that way. I shouldn't be surprised though, this is Sony we're talking about. Absolute morons.

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Avi Arad always seems to be at the center of these gargantuan cluster fucks. He messed up Rami's script in Spider-man 3 by insisting on Venom being in the movie. It was another of his great and bad ideas. Maybe he needs to step away and Sony needs to contract out Marvel Studios to handle things from here on out.

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And how. As if Sony's track record on (a lot of) movies isn't already poor enough.

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But isnt this something of a Jekyll and Hyde story at this stage, where the conflict is between two sides of the same character?

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Not really, not if they truly wanted a Venom based on the comics incarnation.

In Secret Wars, Peter gets the symbiote on the planet where he and the other super beings have been exiled by the Beyonder. The black suit, which is later revealed to be living, forms a link with Peter Parker/Spider-man. That link is the source of Venom's rage at Spider-man. The characters are intertwined, so you really can't have a comics accurate Venom with a standalone movie.

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I'm sure. But feature films made for the masses are not chiefly concerned with comic purity.

Tom Hardy is the lead actor and protagonist. It's his movie, and from the trailers you see that Eddie is the "good guy". He'll have to deal with Venom, and I'm sure they'll have to deal with some other opposing force. The arc shouldn't be much different than Spider-man or the Hulk. They're regular guys, they become endowed with some power; they navigate that power; then oppose some seemingly equal or greater power. From a movie standpoint, that's textbook. I'm not saying this film will be good or bad but the beats look pretty standard. Not so much hero vs villain as protagonist vs antagonist.

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I think his point is that what made the character unique was that Eddie and the symbiote joined together out of their mutual hate for Spider-Man. Without that, we're not left wiht much. The movie has to turn Venom into more of a heroic figure and that means turning him into yet another Jekyl and Hyde, which is overdone.

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I think you should read all of what he wrote again.

And the casual moviegoer is what drives the box office. They'll go to see Tom Hardy as the lead with no knowledge of that symbiote angle. Mainstream films rarely take risks on the unique or strictly adhere to the comic, so this "standalone villain" movie will have the "simple formula" that he says is missing. At this stage, Eddie/Venom is the protagonist, and as someone points out below, he will have a conflict with an antagonist, and, of course, a love interest with some humor. It won't be Eddie/Venom as antagonist twiddling his thumbs with nothing to do b/c there's no Spider-man. Again, I'm not saying it will be good or bad. The execution on all these familiar beats will decide that. It seems like reviews indicate that it has failed in that regard.

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You haven't even seen the film yet, so you really just started a negative thread in order to talk out of your arse.

Venom / Eddie's villain is Riot / Carlton. Eddie is a humanitarian who champions the underdog, whereas Carton is billionaire who wants to become a God by taking humankind into space (via experimentation on vulnerable people).

Then you have Venom, who is an alien who grows to enjoy being on Earth, whereas Riot is the leader of an alien invasion force.

After killing Riot in order to prevent that alien invasion force, Venom / Eddie becomes a vigilante. Eddie ensures that Venom only kills "very bad people". The film introduces Venom's comic book arch-villain Carnage at the end, a serial killer who murders people indiscriminately.

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Eddie was an investigative tv reporter he was there to report controversial news and get ratings. He didn't care who he hurt at all which is why he got his girlfriend fired. he didn't care about humanity until he himself got infected with a symbiote and found out that billion more was coming to infect everyone else. he had no remorse for anyone he killed as venom nor did he care when he smashed up everyone's homes to escape. Venom was less concerned about earth and more concerned about Brock who he came to bond with so completely, he was willing to eat "good" people too remember, Brock had to set rules and limits with him. the whole plot and story was all over the place and barely made any sense, it was just a bad movie.

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I don't disagree entirely, but I think the sample size is very small. I can't think of any other standalone comic book supervillain movies. I guess maybe you could count Suicide Squad but that isn't really standalone.

Movie still hasn't come out and it could be good. Critics aren't always right.

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Suicide Squad works in that you have a group of villains who are forced into being heroes as opposed to having a movie with a super villain protagonist who is left to meander around when not faced with a hero to fight.

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That's a pretty decent point...its definitely limiting, isn't it? There's not going to be any epic fight with any epic nemesis, instead, Venom's going to be running around beating up cops and liquor store robbers, you know? Good point, doesn't mean much without the yang here.

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OK yeah you could count it then. Still, there aren't many standalone supervillain comic book movies. I definitely think you could make a great origin film on a comic book villain, if it's done the right way. Venom probably isn't the correct character to do that with since his origin is tied directly to Spiderman. I still want to go see it, even though it is getting panned by critics.

That being said, I agree with the OP in that the film wouldn't be as interesting without the hero. We read comics and books and watch CB films to see the conflict between the hero and the villain because it is the most intriguing aspect. It's kind of like the show Gotham, which I like for the most part after accepting that they are just doing their own interpretation, in that whenever I watch an episode, I say to myself that this world and show would be so much better with Batman.

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Suicide squad works in a sense that it was a very good idea executed very poorly. Also worst joker to date.

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A part of me kind of knew that a 'Spider-Man-less' movie or cinematic universe could potentially backfire on Sony much like the Dark Universe.

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I still think that a Dr Doom movie could work in the right hands. He reigns over and loves his people in Latveria. They love him back. Often (when not written as maniacal) his villainy is only a matter of perspective. Many great Doom stories.

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Latverians are a disgraceful race. Should be wiped from the earth.

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You'll be the first against the wall.

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Such a terribly disgusting people. Every one of them. I have no sympathy at all.

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But they welcomed you into their home and offered to share their meager supper with you ...

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An obvious ploy to steal my baubles.

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But you have more baubles than other Latverians. You have to give some away.

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Giving something to a Latverian is like giving food to cancer. No thank you.

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Cancer just wants to live, you disease-ist.

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So is Spider-Man or the world of superheroes even mentioned? Or is this just some bizarre standalone movie in a world of common crime?

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I wondering the same thing. Waiting on podcast reviews or maybe one of my friends will go see it and fill me in.

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Saw it today and unless they mentioned Spider-man when I ran to the bathroom, there was no mention at all. The film takes place in San Francisco and they mention Eddie having worked for The Globe in NYC, but no mention of The Daily Bugle or anything else from the Spideyverse.

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The astronaut, Jameson, is the son of J Jonah Jameson...

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Ahh nice! Good catch, at least there was some sort of reference.

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