by: William Burleigh ’19 A&E Staff
A new anti-hero officially joined the cinematic ranks of Marvel superheroes when Sony’s Venom was released on Oct. 5. The titular character, Spider-Man’s comic-book nemesis, is an all-black alien symbiote who requires a human host to bond with in order to survive.
In this film, Venom bonds with Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), a popular San Francisco journalist who specializes in taking down corporate villains. When Venom begins to take over Eddie’s body with his extra-terrestrial powers, a “Jekyll and Hyde” story ensues as Eddie attempts to manage the violent tendencies of his parasitic hanger-on, along with his relationship with his fiancée (Michelle Williams).
Riz Ahmed co-stars as the genius company head who discovered and experiments with symbiotes.
Venom is directed by Ruben Fleischer, who is best known for Zombieland (2009) and Gangster Squad (2013).
The most notable aspect of the film is Hardy’s performance in his dual role as both Eddie Brock and Venom. Hardy, a London native, has steadily been gaining popularity throughout the last decade thanks to an acting resumé that is as enigmatic as it is entertaining.
Venom marks a new peak in Hardy’s career so far as it is his first lead role in a major blockbuster. After breaking out in Inception (2010), he gave a chilling performance as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012). Next, he helped Charlize Theron propel Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) to new franchise heights, earned an Academy Award nomination opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant (2015), and appeared as perhaps the most marketable name in the ensemble war drama Dunkirk (2017). Hardy seems more than prepared to take on such a large role and become a household name in the process.
In a recent interview with Esquire, Hardy stated that, during his one-year prep for the complicated role of an anti-hero who possesses an affinity for biting people’s heads off, he explored and tapped into three specific, and very different, influences, “Woody Allen’s tortured neurosis and all the humor that can come from that. Conor McGregor — the überviolence, but not all the talking. And [rapper] Redman: out of control, living rent-free in his head.” Hardy noted that he left out these muses in conversations that he had with Sony executive producers, “You don’t say s— like that to the studio.”
In addition to telling Eddie Brock’s origin story, Venom’s narrative is meant to accomplish the secondary goal of launching a new inter-connected series of films for Sony and Marvel, separate from Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). This Sony Marvel Universe is meant to include sequels and standalone films that feature the oftentimes lesser-known heroes and villains that populate the Spider-Man comics. When asked for his thoughts about a potential need for Venom to perform financially well in order to build momentum for this Sony universe, Hardy stated that such ideas did not affect his creative acting process: “If the odds are stacked against Sony, that’s not my f—ing business. It’s irrelevant.”
Overall, Hardy’s engaging and dedicated performance as Eddie Brock is the anchor of Venom’s success. While Sony’s plans for sequels are currently unknown, Hardy’s layered and complex take on the infamous Marvel anti-hero is what makes Venom intriguing.