Venom (film): A long time coming

Origin

You don’t have to be a fan of Spider-man to appreciate the almost 30-year old Venom. In fact, Venom is known widely by the main stream who do not read comics nor have watched the iconic Spider-man cartoons. Remember that? When Spider-man was voiced by Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino? Man, those were good times. Well for those of you who have been under a rock the past millennia, let me fill you in on what makes Venom so special. But first, let’s get his origin out of the way. During the Marvel Secret Wars comic book arc that ran back in the 80’s, our hero Spider-man (along with Thor, Hulk, Wolverine, and Ironman to name a few) gets transported to Battleworld. A planet in which they are forced to fight against earth’s villains. After some time, Spider-man’s costume gets ruined and so do the capes and masks of his fellow crime fighters. Thor and Hulk let Spider-man know that there is a machine that can read your thoughts and fabricate any type of clothing. Spider-man goes to the wrong machine and is instead presented with a black orb. This orb is a member of the Kylntar species. An alien symbiote that bonds with its host permanently (however, this process takes time). The symbiote spreads over Spider-man until it covers his entire body with a brand new black and white suit. Spider-man thinks that this is just a normal result of the machine that Hulk and Thor recommended. And is even impressed with how the suit can mimic regular street clothes at whim. This makes it easier for Peter Parker to change into Spider-man whenever innocents are in danger. But this symbiote is only half of Venom. The other half is Eddie Brock. The man who the symbiote bonds with after Spider-man discovers his new costume is actually alive (Thanks to the help of Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic).

 

Eddie Brock

Eddie Brock was a writer for the Daily Globe, a competitor to the Daily Bugle. And when a serial killer known as the Sin-Eater began terrorizing New York, Eddie received emails from an Emil Gregg who claimed to be the murderer. These emails provided Eddie with the basis for popular columns that made the Globe a media sensation. Eddie, using his first amendment rights, would not give up the identity of the Sin-Eater. Until one day he published a story revealing the killer’s identity only to be proven wrong when Spider-man defeated and unmasked the real Sin-Eater (Police Detective Stan Carter). The Daily Bugle became a laughing stock and Eddie Brock was then fired. All of this put Eddie Brock over the edge at which point he was ready to commit suicide. Holding onto his catholic faith, Eddie went to church. And that’s how we were blessed with the ever-popular anti-hero Venom.

 

Venom

Above the church, Spider-man was ringing the bells. Literally. Spider-man learned that the symbiote is weak against sonics and fire. So, upon ringing the bells sound waves ricocheted through his head. Spider-man could feel the symbiote’s pain and even passes out from the trauma. The symbiote however, leaves Spider-man. It goes into hiding and happens upon Eddie Brock who is looking for guidance during his troubled times. The symbiote can sense that Eddie Brock hates Spider-man and bonds with him. Eddie, who could bench press upwards of 400 pounds has his strength augmented even further than Spider-mans. The symbiote also gives Eddie the ability to shoot web and extend his body in the form of tendrils that take various forms and shapes. With the symbiote’s knowledge now his, Eddie learns of Spider-man’s true identity as Peter Parker. Venom, with his more gritty and visceral appearance, is born. Side note: Venom was co-created by Todd McFarlane who would later leave Marvel to form Image Comics. Todd’s first independent creation would be Spawn. The anti-hero from hell. Who if you look closely, does have a resemblance to Venom. Anyway, let’s get back to the long winding history between Venom and Spider-man.

 

Rival/Nemesis

Venom’s first fight with Spider-man ends in his defeat and capture. The Fantastic Four then decide it’s best to place Venom in the Vault. A Colorado High Security Prison. Venom breaks out and continues his vendetta on Spider-man. This back and forth goes on until Eddie Brock blackmails Peter Parker into meeting him for a final showdown. And Spider-man gets his Spider “abdomen” absolutely handed to him. Spider-man’s only hope was to ask the symbiote to bond with him instead and leave Eddie. To both Peter and Eddie’s surprise, it does. Or at least it tries to. The symbiote had already bonded with Eddie so it couldn’t completely abandon him. But the attempt had left Eddie un-conscious. Spider-man leaves his tattered costume in the sand in order to give the impression of his death. When Eddie regains consciousness, he takes the bait and stays on the island (where they fought) living out his days in blissful ignorance. Now the hardcore fans will know how this plays out but for everyone else, just know that to this day, Eddie Brock and Peter Parker never end up getting along. Ever.

 

Announcement

During the 2017 CCXP (Brazil Comic-Con Experience – December 6-9, 2017), it happened. Director Ruben Fleischer announced The Venom Movie. You might remember Fleischer for his work directing the cult comedy hit Zombieland which I personally enjoyed very much. But, his portfolio also includes “30 Minutes or Less” and “Gangster Squad.” Both of which suffered lower than a 6/10 review rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Remember, Sony still owns the motion picture rights to Spider-man and that includes Venom. After the last movie to feature Eddie Brock and Venom (Spider-man 3) not to mention the Amazing Spider-man reboots, many movie fans were left disappointed and want little to do with any Spider-man movies produced by Sony Pictures.

 

Cast

Count your blessings everyone and give thanks for Tom Hardy. The total badass who crossed into the American mainstream with his role in Ridley Scott’s Academy Award winning Black Hawk Down. Rumor is, that upon hearing about the role of Venom, Tom quickly hopped on board. It’s great to know that comic book aficionados come from all walks of life, right? I personally love Tom’s portrayal as Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. He already has the experience to prove himself worthy of a comic book movie adaption. But the accolades don’t end there. Tom has also acted in multiple Nolan movies including Inception and Dunkirk. Let’s not forget his Academy Award for best supporting actor in The Revenant. If anyone can play an anti-hero, not to mention push the limits of human physique, it’s Tom Hardy. Michelle Williams also stars. Michelle debuted in the American Classic Lassie but her more recent her role as P.T. Barnum’s wife in The Greatest Showman will leave you craving for more. She even won a Golden Globe for her performance as Marylyn Monroe. Michelle will be playing Eddie Brock’s ex-wife Ann Weying. In the comics, Anne actually becomes She-Venom at some point but cannot deal with the trauma of the experience and jumps off her high-rise to her death. That pretty much sums up her entire existence in the Marvel Comic Books. But she does however, play a role in convincing Venom to give up his vendetta on Spider-man. This leads to the initial truce shared between the two rivals that leads to Venom’s life as an independent anti-hero. I am not too sure how Michele will fit into the overall plot but an actress like her would not be cast without an integral role in mind. Other than that, we know of three more actors (pertinent ones) but do not know who they play. Riz Ahmed, who is best known for indie movies including but not limited to “The Road to Guantanamo” or his recent role in the Star Wars Han Solo Anthology film. Scott Haze who is known for his breakout role in “Child of God”. And Reid Scott who was on the H.B.O. series Veep. What we do know are which comic books act as the basis for the film’s plot.

 

Plot – Lethal Protector

Comic enthusiasts at the CCXP Brazil were greeted by Director Fleischer himself. Fleischer was being interviewed live from the Venom (film) set in Atlanta via satellite. When asked what fans could expect from the movie he answered with “I can promise you badass action, Venom’s dark humor, and an absolutely stunning performance by Tom Hardy.” The crowd went wild. To be more specific, Fleischer did cite the Lethal Protector (1993) and Planet of the Symbiotes (1995) comic arcs as a basis for the movie. The Lethal Protector run was the first ever standalone comic for our anti-hero. It takes place after Spider-man and Venom make a truce and agree to leave each other alone as long as venom doesn’t break the law (Venom totally breaks the law). Spider-man remains in New York while Venom leaves for San Francisco. Once there he tries to live with Californian Mole People who at first don’t accept him. This pushes Venom to save them from contractors using mechs to dig tunnels through the city underground regardless of its inhabitants. Venom not only stops the mechs but kills their operators. When investigators arrive at the scene of the crime, Venom simply uses the symbiote to take on the appearance of a police officer and walk away as if nothing happened. This is an example of Venom’s zany escapades. While he has no problem murdering criminals, he doesn’t want any trouble with the federal government. In a nutshell, Venom is the type of guy who would kill his neighbor for borrowing a lawn mower and never giving it back. Yet he is also the type of guy who would save a cat trapped in a tree. Needless to say, photos of Venom seemingly terrorizing San Francisco reach The Daily Bugle in New York. Spider-man then rushes to California to confront Venom. While there he stops by the home of Eddie Brock’s father Carl Brock. Carl refuses to talk to Spider-man but Carl’s maid spills the details of the father’s hurtful relationship with his son. It is here that you learn about Eddie’s troubled childhood. How Carl never showed Eddie affection no matter how much Eddie tried to impress him. Simply because Eddie’s mother died upon giving birth. I don’t want to potentially spoil anything that could play out in the movie, but I will say that five additional symbiotes are artificially forced out of Venom. Yes, it gets convoluted. The story concludes with Venom and Spider-man teaming up to save the day and Venom choking Spider-man out (full sleeper hold) at some point, so he doesn’t get in the way of Venom’s more Lethal methods. See what I did there? Anyway, Venom is not your typical one-dimensional evil-doer because in case you couldn’t tell by now, he is also a bit whacky. This is probably what Fleischer meant by “Venom’s dark humor”.

 

Plot – The Planet of the Symbiotes

The other story arc that the Venom Movie is based off of is the Planet of the Symbiotes. In this comic mini-series a spaceship full of symbiotes comes to earth and attempts to take over, one earthling at a time. You see the symbiotes believe in dominating their host. And Venom is seen as weak for wanting to bond and allow its host to have a say in their day to day life. Spider-man helps investigate along with…. Wait for it…. The Scarlet Spider. I am not going to even try and explain the Scarlet Spider’s backstory. Just know it involves Peter Parker’s clone. Or “clones”? And a really cool denim hoodie jacket/costume combo. The die-hards will know what I’m talking about. I digress. The trio end up overwhelmed by the symbiotes and find themselves in space. They teleport back to earth and Eddie decides to permanently bond with his symbiote. Earlier in the story Eddie doesn’t like how the symbiote always pressures Eddie to kill. So, taking Spider-man’s advice, he tells the symbiont to leave him alone so he can have time to think about whether or not he really wants to be Venom. It was at this time that the Symbiote felt betrayed and called his fellow species to earth. Once Eddie decides to bond with the Symbiote for good, Venom is able to produce a telekinetic scream powerful enough to cause the symbiotes to commit suicide in order to put themselves out of their misery. Talk about issues. See what I did there?

 

What to expect

If Fleischer decides to put everything in the Lethal Protector and Planet of the Symbiotes comic book mini-series’ in the movie… You will witness the artificial birth of five symbiotes along with an entire army of them. Space travel, fighting between Spider-man and Venom only to be followed by working together, the freaking Scarlet Spider, and a look at Eddie’s personal history. Oh yeah, and Carnage. I might have forgotten to mention that Carnage grows to building sized proportions after he absorbs countless symbiotes in the Planet of the Symbiotes run. Yup. It’s safe to say that Fleischer will not try and cram all of this into one movie. But here is what we can look forward to. Eddie’s relationship with his father and how it shaped him. Add to this the divorce by his wife Ann and you can begin to empathize with Venom’s twisted morals and inner-conflicts. Spider-man is said not to be in the movie as it will kick off a brand-new Sony Marvel Cinematic Universe that is separate from Spider-man and the Disney MCU. So that means we probably won’t be seeing Scarlet Spider either. Yet. That and Carnage will also most likely not be featured. I mean look at the movie cast. There just aren’t enough actors. I also doubt we will see space travel let alone an army of invading Symbiotes. But there does have to be an antagonist. In the lethal Protector storyline, San Francisco is in danger from Roland Treece who is after a natural abundance of gold underneath the city. This is what leads to Venom initially saving the Mole People. Another potential villain could be Orwell Taylor. Whose father was killed by Venom during his first escape from a high-security prison. Orwell seeks revenge by bringing Venom to the Life Foundation who ultimately end up artificially ripping offspring from Venom in an attempt create super guardsmen. Thus, the creation of the five symbiotes Agony, Phage, Scream, Riot, and Lasher. If this super team of symbiotes is to be featured, we can’t forget Carlton Drake. The head of the Life Foundation and the one responsible for the new symbiotes’ creation. Your guess is as good as mine. One thing I look forward to though is the relationship between Eddie Brock and his symbiote. How Eddie is still finding himself and therefore isn’t completely sure of who he is. Is Venom the final piece that makes him complete? Or is Eddie just suffering from co-dependence due to his conflicted childhood and poor relationship with his father? We’ll have a deeper look at all this and more when Venom (film) hits the big screen and releases nationwide October 5th, 2018.

Westworld Season 2

Westworld is back and there is nothing that our human bodies with all our flaws, despite trying to create the work of God, can do to stop it. I hope you’re ready because things are going to change forever and as the show ever so eloquently asks “Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality”?  Here 5 things that we already know about the new season of Westworld.

1. Robert Ford is Human

Robert Ford played by Anthony Hopkin will not be returning to the season, probably. Let me clarify, his character is dead and one of the big themes in the show is pointing out the biggest flaw of humanity, hubris, which drove us to create a world of sentient synthetic beings in the first place. So that probably means Ford will not be the main character in season 2, I mean the poor man was shot in the head for goodness sake. It would be weird even for Westworld to have him somehow survive that.  However, that does not mean he can’t make a cameo appearance in one of the episodes in a flashback or a previous recording.

2. I Am Samurai Jack

The series will be expanding outside to the different theme parks. Over a year ago it was revealed that viewers would get to see a new park called Shogun World. In a recent trailer that just came out, we actually see samurai wearing full armor that matches with Feudal-era Japan. Now what role they will play in this new season we cannot say, but we are very excited to find out.

3. I Robot 2.0

Dolores Abernathy, our favorite murderous host rebel is finally taking control of Westworld with extreme force. From the small bits of scenes in each trailer, we can only assume that she intends to kill anyone that stands in her way. In the first season, we already learn that she is capable of more than what she was programmed to do. She can lie or at least hide the truth and she can kill (RIP little mosquito) and we will get to explore more what lengths she will go to in order to win her freedom and possibly take over becoming the rulers of Earth; Terminator anyone?

4. Robots Get Sick

Did anyone else freak out when we found out that Jason Wright’s character Bernard Lowe was actually a host the entire time working for Ford?! I mean even M. Night Shyamalan has to be impressed by that right? In season 2, Bernard will be having “health issues” in a sense.  In an interview with Deadline Jason Wright talks about how his character will have to deal with the fact that he is not human and that his robotic brethren are starting to rebel.  So his mindset and maybe even his allegiance are both a subject of importance going forward, as it could be that what he decides to do can vastly change everything. Realizing that you are a created robot and not a human has got to be polarizing at the least.

5. Here Come the MiB

The last thing we do know is that Ed Harris, the mysterious Man in Black will be returning in both his old and younger self-played by Jimmi Simpson.  In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, it was revealed that our notorious gunslinger is alive and well and fans will get to see the younger days of the theme park and how he was able to garner so much influence over the DeLos company. This also means we’ll probably get to learn a little about his past and how he came to be the man in black.

There’s a lot of unanswered question that will be addressed in the episodes to come, but as of right now which answers will come out, we’ll just have to wait and find out. The season airs on HBO on Sunday, April 22nd. What are you most excited to find out?

Are you Ready…Player One?

The phrase “they just don’t make movies like they used to”, is what I would say to any other movie coming out in 2018 but Ready Player One, a book to movie adaptation by Ernest Cline, helped to make us feel like a kid again – virtually in an instant.

Before we begin, please note that spoiler warnings are in effect.

Stephen Spielberg really outdid himself at every turn in the making of Ready Player One.

To the 2045 setting in Columbus, Ohio, to the elaborate recreation of The Shining, Ready Player One satisfies viewers on almost every level.

There’s a love story, pop-culture references and a huge battle with your favorite characters! Everything comes together in a nice pretty package wrapped in a bow.

The Ready Player One Story

The movie is narrated from the perspective of Wade Owen Watts, a young teen who lives with his aunt and a deadbeat guy in Columbus, Ohio. Wade, a Halliday fanatic and frequent visitor to the Oasis (a virtual reality world where you can be and do anything your heart desires), has his setup located outside of their apartment on the bottom floor of building trailers of the future.

Ready Player One buildings

The portrayal of character growth goes fairly quick where the Oasis created by two friends James Donovan Halliday a.k.a. Anorak and Ogden “Og” Morrow sets the stage for the entire movie.

It is explained that Halliday is dead but before he bites the big one, he programs into the Oasis, Easter eggs (secret discoveries within a game that you find by just wandering around a game’s map) that any user in the Oasis can find. The locator of all Easter eggs or the 3 keys – The Cooper Key, Jade Key and Crystal key – will gain ownership of the Oasis and change the Oasis however they like. They also receive entire ownership of his real-world gaming company.

Once in the Oasis, you’re transported to a surreal place where anything is possible. Minecraft worlds, planet-sized casinos, planet Doom, nightclubs – you name it, it’s there.  From the beginning, they quickly introduce the other characters who are Wade’s friends in the game. The underlining message while in the Oasis is you may never know who you’re “friends” with since you have no idea who they are in real life.

After introductions, they talk about the first trial for the first key which is a race.  The winner of the race receives the copper key and a clue. Here we see the love love interest of Wade Watts or Parzival, his in-game name, Art3mis.

During the first challenge, they both prove to be very skilled at gaming and are quite knowledgeable of Halliday’s history. Of course, knowing about Halliday is what is the true key to figuring out the riddles to each Easter eggs and solving a lot of the mystery behind the keys.  This is because not everything is as straightforward as one would think.

Supposedly, according to the movie it was 5 years for a random user to find a clue and open the portal to the first challenge. So my only gripe is they find the 3 keys pretty fast after finding the first. However, it’s movie set in 2045, so we’ll forgive it for being slightly unrealistic.

The main villain is Nolan Sorrento who is head of operations at Innovative Online Industries (IOI). He is sneaky, manipulative and does whatever it takes to get the job done. IOI is explained to be a big conglomerate organization that sends people into the Oasis to try and win Halliday’s Easter egg challenges.

Throughout the movie, highlights include meeting the main cast outside of the Oasis and imminent dangers of knowing the true identity outside of the Oasis puts you in harms way.  You can die in the Oasis but all that happens is it resets your stats such as level, gold, items and artifacts.

Prior to the final challenge a big war between good and bad incorporated with a few familiar video game characters and brands. Essentially, we could create a long list of references that would put a smile on your face.

In the end, our heroes prevail both in the Oasis and the real world. The hero gets the girl and wins the ultimate game by finding all 3 keys, beating the challenge and owning the Oasis with Ogden “Og” Morrow being an adviser (he’s still alive…poor Halliday).

OVERALL THOUGHTS

Although this is a brief review of the movie, a writer can go into so many directions when breaking the movie down. The multitude of various Easter eggs, the book to movie differences (and there quite a few) to the symbolism of the characters. Sky’s the limit!

To be fair, I did not read the book. However, there are articles galore that talk about the major differences between the book and movie. Supposedly, there are 15 or so. For those who read the book, do you know them all?

If you’re looking for that feel good, superhero growth as he struggles through various obstacles type of movie with a splash of 80’s nostalgia and video game flair, Ready Player One is the movie for you.