The first full Venom trailer dropped last night at CinemaCon and, from what I saw, this movie continues to intrigue me. The cast – consisting of Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, and Woody Harrelson – is fantastic and director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Santa Clarita Diet) has turned finding the humor in horrific situations into a bit of a hallmark of his career. And while the trailer doesn’t paint a particularly humorous movie, there still appears to be some dark comedy belying the body horror and treatise on mental illness.
Venom stars Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, who, here, is an investigative reporter seeking information from Dr. Carlton Drake (Ahmed) of the Life Foundation about a series of deaths allegedly attributed to experiments conducted by Drake and his company. During this interview or a subsequent encounter, Eddie becomes infected with the Venom symbiote, which grants him powers similar to Spider-Man – though in a much more vicious fashion – and manifests as a monstrous entity with pure, white eyes; razor-sharp teeth; and a serpentine tongue.
The trailer makes the movie look like the meat of the story largely revolves around Eddie and the symbiote trying to elude Drake. But we also know that it draws inspiration from Marvel Comics’ “Lethal Protector” storyline from the 1990s, which found Venom guarding San Francisco from five symbiotic villains – Scream, Phage, Riot, Lasher, and Agony – three of whom may be glimpsed in the trailer.
We don’t see much of Williams or Ahmed in this trailer, but Hardy looks like he’s having a blast descending into madness. Lest we ever forget, he continues to prove how talented of an actor he is. In one scene, Eddie is cornered in his apartment by several of Drake’s goons and the symbiote lashes out to defend itself and Eddie. Scared out of his mind, Eddie then mutters, “Why would we do that?” It’s a brief moment, but his use of the word “we” is immediately telling for the character’s dual psychological development.
The sequence just after that one has Eddie making a deal with his devil. “If you’re going to stay, you will only hurt bad people,” Eddie instructs the symbiote. To which, it responds, “The way I see it, we can do whatever we want. Do we have a deal?” Hardy also provides the voice work for the Venom voice inside Eddie’s head and how much fun it seems to be having, well, it’s chilling, to put it mildly.
Noticeably absent from the trailer, of course, is the aforementioned Harrelson, who is rumored to be playing Cletus Kasady, a serial killer who becomes the symbiotic villain Carnage. If true, this begs a few questions: 1) is Cletus/Carnage replacing one of the five symbiotes named above, 2) if he isn’t, is he equally a primary villain or more of a setup for a potential sequel, and 3) if a primary villain in addition to Drake’s five, did Sony learn nothing from Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man 2?
I’m still not sold on Venom. I’m not quite sure how the story works without Spider-Man, who’s currently hanging out with the Avengers over in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But this trailer and the pedigree are keeping me interested enough to give it a shot.
You can catch the trailer below if you haven’t seen it already. Venom oozes into theaters on Friday, Oct. 5.