So, did you see this year’s Amazing Spider-Man movie? A lot of people did — $743 million dollars worth at last count. And with two sequels already underway, who’s to say Sony couldn’t hop for more. Marvel’s been able to spin their in-house movie heroes into an entire family of films, and with Sony holding the rights to not only Spider-Man but the entire Spider-man corner of the Marvel U there’s no shortage of possibilities. Especially one grinning, face-eating alien symbiote one.
Yes yes yes, Venom’s already had his movie debut in 2007′s Spider-Man 3, but Amazing Spider-Man acted as a ‘reset’ button for the franchise… and it could also reset the way Venom is brought back into the fold. We have our ideas, and I know you have yours. I’ll tell you mine — then you tell me yours.
In comics, Venom was first introduced in the star-spanning crossover Secret Wars. In the first Spider-Man movie Venom comes to earth via a well-timed meteorite. That’s all well and good, but what if he came to life in an entirely different way — a way set out in Rick Remender and Tony Moore’s recent Venom run.
What if the U.S. Government managed to get the Venom symbiote in their grasps from a black ops space mission; or perhaps simply hitching a ride from an far-Earth orbit satellite. Back to Earth (and back into the U.S. Government’s hands), it could be the ultimate secret weapon — if attached to the right man. In the comics they used jock-turned-war-vet-turned-amputee Flash Thompson; the Flash Thompson in the Amazing Spider-Man is still in high school, so what if we simply change the name — or perhaps make this Flash’s older brother — but keep his military experience and wheelchair-bound body? We’ll call him Tony Thompson, as a placeholder. This decorated war hero is given a second chance to make a difference, strapped into a volatile alien symbiote dubbed Venom that can only be worn for short intervals. No hero’s perfect, and America needs this soldier now — so into the field a Venom-charged special forces soldier.
A movie could successfully be based on the gist of Remender and Moore’s first arc, although I might up the stakes a little more in terms of the MacGuffin — (Anti-Vibranium? I don’t think the general public can get their mind around that). But it’s all there — and Venom could still possibly intersect with Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man down the road, Aliens Vs. Predator style.
This Venom isn’t a super-hero movie; it’s a military commando movie wrapped in some alien DNA. For this, I’d recruit David Ayer, screenwriter of Training Day and writer/director of his month’s End of Watch. With his screenwriting past and as a veteran himself, Ayers seems to know how to handle the weight of a film like this. And although he hasn’t become a breakout director (yet), I think it’s just a matter of the right film, the right script, and the right situation. And this could be it.
Tony Thompson – Aaron Paul: A dozen top young male movie stars would vie heavily for this, but I think Breaking Bad‘s Aaron Paul would have them all beat. He has intensity to him, but also the ability to portray vulnerable characters. He’d need that to get this character right.
Venom – Tim Curry: Venom isn’t Thompson. Venom wasn’t even Eddie Brock, or Marc Gargan. Venom is his own man — and he needs a voice and a lot of CGI. Tim Curry is for many the definitive voice of evil, and rightfully so from roles in Legend and The Thing. Although he may have fallen out of the spotlight somewhat, he still has his voice — and would bring scary to a whole new generation.
Betty Brant – Anna Kendrick: Remender and Moore brought Betty Grant in and she showed off a completely different side of Thompson, tied into his time in New York City. In this movie, she could be Thompson’s sole connection to a normal world …. and her job at The Daily Bugle could tie this deeper into Sony’s Spider-verse in more ways than one. Anna Kendrick won me over in Up In The Air, and I’d love to see her take in this role and act opposite Paul.
Jack O’Lantern – Jamie Bell: Bell was originally in the running for me to play the Thompson role, but didn’t seem right for the character. The new Jack O’Lantern in Venom seemed quite different from his predecessors, and his single-minded brain and intense acting seemed like a great leap — and big opportunity — for Bell.
Crime Master – Giovanni Ribisi: Ribisi came out of a heavy crop of Generation X 90s actors, but hasn’t really been able to find his place in modern movies. He’s always the off-kilter friend of the lead, but I ‘d rather see him go full-on in the role of the Crime Master. He has the voice that could work under a mask, and I’d love to see him smugly go off on his underlings.
Doctor Ferid Ekmecic – Paul Giamatti: Ekmecic isn’t a big player overall in Venom, but he instigated the whole affair by his experimenting on Anti-Vibranium. I’d love to see a major actor like Paul Giamatti take this role and really dig into it, and surprise everyone by dying early on.
General Brad Dodge – James Woods: Remender and Moore’s General Dodge isn’t the typical hard-charging military type — General Ross has that covered over in the Hulk books. Instead, he was a tactician — the kind of guy always thinking three or four steps ahead — not a reactionary, but more of a methodical player. I’d love to see James Woods take this role and chew into Aaron Paul and the others, and really remind people how good he is.