Film Trailers

An Alternate Reading of the Venom Teaser Trailer

Just when you feel like you’ve had your fill of superhero movie trailers for a while, Sony comes along and drops a brand new one for Venom. Suck it, Avenger: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, and Jessica Jones. In the arms race of superhero movie/TV show hype campaigns, your trailers are no longer the most recent. That honor belongs to Venom, Sony’s attempt to build its own cinematic universe even though they already have Spider-Man in…um…hold on.

What’s going on here, again? Is Tom Holland going to cameo in this thing or not? Or are they still taking all of their Spider-Man characters and building a universe around them without Spider-Man because, na nana nana, Marvel Studios?

Google, do you know?

Huh. And what’s going on with that mysterious animated movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,the one with Miles Morales in it?

Ok. Screw it. You do you, Sony.

On to the Venom teaser:

With this opening shot of what turns out to actually just be a picture in a hospital room, it’s almost like they’re saying, “Remember when Tom Hardy was in The Revenant? This…isn’t that movie!”

Movie Trailer Voice: From the company that probably won’t even be making movies anymore in a couple of years

Movie Trailer Voice: And the producers who clearly liked California’s newly generous tax credits…

Movie Trailer Voice: Comes a movie where, for a change, we’re not going to cover Tom Hardy’s beautiful face the whole time.

Movie Trailer Voice: And co-stars a woman who’s probably going to have the answer the “Did you get paid as much Tom Hardy?” question for the rest of the year.

Movie Trailer Voice: We’ve got super sweet car stunts!

Movie Trailer Voice: And bad guys doing…something!

[Talks to producer ]That black goo’s the symbiote, right? It is? Cool. Let’s do the line again:

And bad guys who probably want to weaponize black goo!

Movie Trailer Voice: Go, Team Ventu…I mean, Venom!

Mulligan: The Movie. Due out October.

A bit too snarky on my part? Probably.

There’s nothing really wrong with the teaser, although who really thought it was a good idea to have Tom Hardy narrate the thing. Even when he’s not doing his Bane voice or Dunkirk voice, he’s still a bit of a marble-mouthed fella. Beyond that, there’s very little ingenuity here. It’s just a standard teaser with the same old Hans Zimmer-imitating music, quick shots of characters the comic book fans will recognize, and context-less shots of visually striking action beats. The boldest move they make is not revealing the actual Venom of it all or the villain (believed to be Carnage), which, really, kudos.

But have you seen the crazy shit Deadpool is up to in his trailers? Or the mastery of horror imagery in the New Mutants trailer? The Venom filmmakers have talked about looking to old John Carpenter and David Cronenberg movies for inspiration and how this is going to be “a horror film” with “more pop and fun.” There are certainly hints of Cronenberg body horror with Hardy in the hospital, and maybe, kinda, sorta Carpenter big-brother’s-out-to-get-ya action elsewhere. Yet I am left not completely sure what kind of movie this is going to be.

In truth, that’s not what inspired the snark, though. See, Spider-Man: Homecoming didn’t repair my trust in Sony; it merely re-confirmed Kevin Feige’s genius as the most prolific and populist movie producer of the modern era. With Venom, I’m all too aware that we’re back into 100% Sony territory without any outside assistance from the Marvel Studios people. So, as they were with the two Amazing Spider-Man movies Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach are back in charge, along with Amy Pascal. I don’t trust those two as producers anymore (Pascal’s a bit more hit and miss). In Ruben Fleischer, they hired a good (Zombieland), but not great (30 Minutes or Less, Gangster Squad) director. The casting department certainly deserves a pat on the back since in addition to Hardy and Michelle Williams as the leads they’ve also cast Riz Ahmed, Jenny Slate, and Reid Scott (Veep).

However, I’m going to need to see more to get excited for Venom. That the teaser didn’t completely turn me off the movie makes it at least somewhat successful, I guess. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

Venom is due out October 5.


  1. I’m really confused. Is there going to be a hero in this movie? Or is Venom going to be sort of an anti-hero / Punisher kind of character?

    1. It’s the latter. Venom will be the antihero of the movie and Carnage the villain, at least according to rumors. This is actually a role Venom has occupied in the comics for a while now even though he w as introduced as a villain and was obviously depicted as much in Spider-Man 3, which like this movie was produced by Avi Arad.

  2. I hope this bombs, hard, while the animated movie succeeds. Than Sony can focus on creating it’s animated Spider-verse and leave the live action stuff to Marvel.

    1. I hear you. Despite the snarky tone of my post, I try to maintain that old Roger Ebert thing of always wanting a movie to be good, no matter what. You have to hope for the best and react to the worst. I want Venom to be good. It’d seriously suck if they did two different Venom movies (first Spider-Man 3 and now Venom) and they both sucked.

      But maybe there’s a difference between wanting it to be a good movie and wanting it to be a financial success. Because I’m with you on ultimately thinking Sony would be better off if Venom stalled their planned cinematic universe and thus forced them to shift their focus to animation.

      1. To be honest, just based on the trailer it doesn’t look good. Granted, it is only a teaser. Perhaps they didn’t have anything impressive ready yet. But then, they know how sceptic people are, they should have ensured that there is at least one money shot in it.

      2. Given how far out the release date is, I’m assuming the effects work with Venom probably isn’t ready yet. I remember how The Amazing Spider-Man trailers, particularly the ones for the second movie, included lots of pre-viz shots that looked like bad video game renderings and, of course, looked much better in the actual movie because the effects houses had completed them by then. Maybe this time they’ve learned to hold back until they have something worth showing. Or maybe it’s part of a Jaws-esque strategy of hinting rather than showing to maintain mystery.

        Either way, yeah, the movie doesn’t look great. I don’t think it looks bad either. Just a tad on the generic side and a bit unfocused in terms of which genre we’re working with here.

  3. Aren’t “teaser” trailers supposed to be shorter than this?

    It was frustrating to watch it, because all I walked out of that trailer with was “Whooo! Tom Hardy!”. I think we should’ve at least seen more goo, or some drippy words, or something. It looks more like an action movie. Is is supposed to be action? Or horror?

    Well anyway, “Whooo, Tom Hardy!”

    1. “Aren’t “teaser” trailers supposed to be shorter than this?”

      I don’t even know anymore. The rules of movie marketing are changing so fast.

      “It looks more like an action movie. Is it supposed to be action? Or horror?”

      My problem, exactly. I was encouraged when I heard they were going for a Cronenberg/Carpenter vibe, but this trailer seems like they’re doing imitations of both at the same time while also adding in some generic 2018 action movie moments and thus releasing a movie that is kind of hard to peg.

  4. Is black goo considered trite or a staple of things now?

    Examples of use of black goo:
    – Star Trek The Next Generation: Skin of Evil
    – LOTS of X-Files episodes
    – Prometheus

    If it is considered trite, is it worse than blue sky beam that needs to be stopped?

    1. Oh, sorry. I’m sensing that people don’t know as much about Venom as I thought and maybe I shouldn’t have just fired off a snarky post like I did, what with my joke about the “black goo”. Then again, this might also mean this teaser only really works for people who already know Venom’s backstory.

      So, to be clear, (and apologies if you already know all of this and I’m just being overexplaining everything) the black goo I highlighted and joked about in that screenshot from the teaser is actually Venom itself in its native form. Venom isn’t really a person – it’s an alien symbiote that attaches itself to people and imbues them with powers. In the comic book origin story, the symbiote first attaches to Peter Parker on an alien planet and absorbs all of his Spidey powers in the process. Thus, when Peter returns to Earth and eventually rids himself of the symbiote it moves along and attaches itself to other people but maintains the Spidey powers it had absored which makes whoever becomes Venom an equal and often physical superior to Spider-Man.

      But since this movie might only feature Spider-Man in a cameo, at best, and it might just be Peter Parker, not full Spider-Man, they are probably doing a different origin story. Best guess is the symbiote crash lands on Earth and is collected by evil scientists types before somehow making its way to Tom Hardy’s character or perhaps this symbiote is actually created by the scientists and isn’t alien at all.

      That huge helping of nerdiness aside, loved your joke: “If it is considered trite, is it worse than blue sky beam that needs to be stopped?”

      1. My first exposure to Venom was in one of the weekly animated series. In that one, Jonah Jaimison’s son is an astronaut and the “goo” was attached to the space ship when it returned to earth. I can’t recall how Peter came in contact with it but I remember that the extra abilities it gave Peter saved his life a couple of times. And Peter used that power for good things. But little by little the “evil” nature of Venom began to infect Peter. And the story became his struggle to rid himself of the extra skin. I recall enjoying that story.

      2. Actually, same here. As a kid, I consumed my superhero stories through TV. So, my earliest significant exposure to this stuff came through Batman: The Animated Series, X-Men, and Spider-Man: The Animated Series. By the time Venom showed up in Spider-Man 3, I remember being stupidly excited because I vaguely remembered how cool he was in the old cartoon (which, btw, you’re recollection of his introduction on the show lines up with mine as well). Then I saw the movie.


        Yeah, the movie was not great, and it’s kind of poisoned the well for Venom ever since.

        BTW, four years ago I wrote this list about Spider-Man’s comic book history. It has a couple of entries about Venom’s history in there.

        Will save you the time: Venom only ever happened because Marvel ran a contest inviting fans to submit their recommendations for a redesigned Spider-Man suit. Someone came up with the cool black suit, and a year after the contest Marvel used it. Beyond that, the first person Venom attaches itself to after Peter Parker was meant to be a woman and thus give ole Spidey a new arch-enemy that was just as powerful of him and just happened to also be a woman. The idea got nixed because the editor didn’t think readers would buy a female villain as being physically foreboding and they went with a character named Eddie Brock. That editor, however, was cool with the brutal origin story they’d come up with for the female character, which would have involved her suffering a miscarriage and watching her husband die all because on the way to the hospital they got stuck in the middle of a Spider-Man vs. Fill-In-The-Blank Villain in the sky above them:

      3. Thumbs up.

        There was ONE scene in Spiderman 3 that I actually loved. It’s when Eddie reaches rock bottom and he’s in a church and he drops to his knees and say, “Please, God… help me kill Peter Parker!”

        I laughed so hard. That was great.

      4. With that scene, the bell tower imagery and the symbiote falling from Peter up above and down to Eddie and overtaking him is pretty similar to how it was depicted in the comics.

        That being said, I have no idea if Eddie also said “Please, God…help me kill Peter Parker” in the comics. My guess is no. THat sounds more like the product of a messy movie production and lazy screenwriter (or someone being re-written multiple times).

      5. I saw it as brilliant not lazy writing. We were led to believe Eddie had seen the darkness inside him and didn’t like what he saw. He appeared to be trying to repent. To be asking for forgiveness. To be praying for help to be better.

        So it was so shocking (and actually in character) for him to twist that into asking GOD for help in killing someone. That is such twisted thinking that in that one moment we saw just how far gone Eddie was even before being infected by Venom.

      6. Eddie definitely missed the point of prayer (unless he’s a big fan of the Old Testament, smite-happy God). It is, on the screenwriter’s part, an efficient way to vocalize Eddie’s frame of mind immediately before being taken over by the symbiote, which is obviously important since the whole way the symbiote works is by enhancing what’s already inside of you and turning your ambitions and grudges into blinding rage.

      7. Sorry. Just making sure. Spider-Man 3’s awfulness is legendary, but it’s not even the most recent franchise-killing Spider-Man sequel anymore. So, ya never know.

      8. OK, I didn’t came here to depend Spider-Man 3, that the most parts people hate is just “Raimi being Raimi”—some people find it brilliant, some lazy, I think it’s OK, in line with the movie being a Raimi movie more than a Spider-Man movie (for some, not a good thing). Have anyone here seen Army of Darkness?

        Also, franchise killer? Hello! Spider-Man 4! OK, enough.

        I was just curious and don’t have time now to read back your post about Spidey. Regarding the female villain, is that where the Spider-Woman in black costume came from? I just thought her costume is pretty similar to Venom’s.

      9. There are real nostalgia blinders when it comes to all three of those Spider-Man movies, particularly the first one. So, to pretend like the first two are masterpieces and the third one a cinematic disasterpiece is a bit disingenuous. As such, I get what you’re saying about “Raimi being Raimi.” And, yes, I have seen Army of Darkness as well as Evil Dead 1 and 2 and Drag Me to Hell and Darkman various other Raimi movies. I understand his style. But the first two Spider-Man movies feel like they were made by someone who actually wanted to make them; Spider-Man 3, by comparison, feels forced, clearly cobbled together, and too lost in creating the technology to visualize every grain of sand for Sandman to realize the folly of Deus Ex Old Butler or the passion to fix the overabundance of cringe-inducing dialogue.

        Spider-Man 3 did kill the franchise, though. I’m not sure what you’re referring to with Spider-Man 4 other than maybe that they did try to move on to make another one. But the same is true of Batman & Robin. WB spent years trying to make another Batman movie but never did until restarting nearly a decade later with Batman Begins. Similarly, there was going to be a Spider-Man 4 for a while there until there wasn’t and then, poof, we got the Andrew Garfield movies just so Sony wouldn’t lose the rights back to marvel.

        Often times the movies thought of as franchise killers actually made plenty of money and led to years of development on a sequel. That’s true of both Spider-Man 3 and Batman & Robin. But in both cases, the sequel never came because the principal players all absorbed the negative reaction to the last movie and couldn’t quite find their way on how to make another one that would earn back the audience’s trust. So, while the death may not have been instantaneous it still came to the franchise in the end.

        As for Spider-Woman, that’s a good question. It seems highly plausible that you’re right. Venom and the black & white costumed version of Spider-Woman were introduced roughly at the same time, so much so that Peter Parker even refers back to Spider-Woman’s costume when he first dons his new black suit, realizing his redesign was subconsciously inspired by her kickass costume. That they had planned on making Venom a female victim of Spider-Man’s collateral damage but were overruled by the editor could have certainly led to, “Well, we’ve already got these drawings of this woman in the costume. Let’s do something with that. I know – Spider-Woman!” But I don’t really know for sure or how exactly the timelines matched up there.

        As I covered in the old article, the black and white costume idea was definitely inspired by a contest winner’s submitted design for a new suit, but it might have also been inspired what they were working on for Spider-Woman at that very same moment independent of what the Spider-Man writers were coming up with.

        Shorter answer: I guess I don’t know. Spider-Woman’s history is a huge blind spot for me in my Spidey knowledge.

      10. What I meant was that Sony didn’t shut down the franchise right away because the movie sucked. And you seemed to say that it all boils down to the fans hating the movie and Sony had to let go Raimi and went for the reboot option. There were definitely other variables in that equation.

        But maybe you’re right, that it still is a franchise killer. At least it’s not as big a killer as TASM 2. TASM 2 had the fans expecting an alternate universe with its own set of villains. SM 3 had none of that baggage. Raimi had a good run and SM 3 had a somewhat satisfying closure even though it was an uneven and fairly disappointing movie.

        Of course I’m not saying SM 3 is very good movie. As you’ve said, it showed that Raimi needed help with the script. I just don’t think its on the same level as the other movies associated with the term franchise killer. I’d say it’s in the same level as The Phantom Menace, another OK movie, people love to hate on in the internet. Of course, it’s impossible for Episode I to kill the franchise. But if there’s one thing fanboys hated more than Emo Peter, it’s definitely Jar Jar Binks.

      11. I take your point. In comparison to others, SM 3 at least provides closure. It’s a depressing, down-note bit of closure, with Peter and MJ reuniting but not entirely sure if they can actually repair things between them, but it’s at least something, a “in the end, they always find their way back to each other” kind of thing. ASM2, by comparison, has all of that Sinister Six set-up that ultimately never got paid off because the movie legitimately killed the francise.

  5. Just saw the trailer and I thought it was just different in a somewhat refreshing way. For one, it doesn’t feel like Disney/Marvel or Zack Snyder or Nolan. And I was somewhat reminded of the times around or before 2008. When there wasn’t much internet, nobody writes or reads trailer breakdown or reviews. And no one’s counting how many views does a trailer get. For a moment I was transported back to that era. THERE WAS A SENSE OF MYSTERY. Unlike today when everything’s spoiled and hyped and over-analyzed.

    Then I read your post, watched the New Mutants trailer, of course Deadpool 2, I already watched a few times, and end up agreeing with what you said here (Tom Hardy’s voice barely registers. Nolan probably made a good decision with Bane’s.) And I’m thinking now about the pointlessness of all of this. There’s a new Venom movie. Whoever’s making it Sony, Marvel, doesn’t matter to me. Am I excited about it? No. Maybe, later. We’ll see.


      I’m with you on that point. I actually like the mystery. I like the leading with the human characters first and offering the special effects later. I like that they’ve pulled back on spoilers and, as should be the job of any teaser, simply focused on establishing tone.

      I just don’t have a good read on exactly what tone they’re going for, though. And, yeah, Hardy’s voice doesn’t really fit here. And since I’m not already a Venom fanboy the existence of this movie doesn’t instantly do much for me. It’s more, as you sort of concluded yourself, a case of, “Oh, yeah. They made Venom movie. Good for them. Maybe I’ll see it. Maybe not. I dunno. It might not suck”

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