By JD Phillips
Last weekend “Venom” hit theatres and continued a very annoying trend that Hollywood seems hellbent on. The Half-Assed Supervillain Movie. Movies like “Catwoman”, “Suicide Squad”, and “Elektra” all make the same mistakes “Venom” is plagued with.
The Bad Guys Save The World
“Suicide Squad” and “Venom” both advertised themselves as the anti-superhero movie but both ended up using the same save the world trope as their lackluster ending. They both have a pretty by the books CG fight scene that redeems all characters involved and basically makes them good guys at heart.
It’s not all that different from the character arc in “Iron Man” where the apathetic arms dealer decides to take violent responsibility for his company’s actions. Even “Solo” can’t commit to its roguish Star Wars all the way to the end. The movie turns its simple heist plotline suddenly into a makeshift Rebels v. Empire save the galaxy story at the last minute.
This Is A Drama...No, It’s A Comedy…
These movies also can never decide whether they want to take the source material seriously or make a dark comedy out of it. What comes from it isn’t a drama with darkly comedic elements (“Goodfellas”) or a dark comedy with moments of great levity (“Zombieland”). They just feel like a weird mishmash of ideas that leap between gritty character moments and cheap one-liners randomly.
Despite their being really bloody dramas that deconstruct the superhero movie (“Logan”) and really bloody comedies that make fun of the genre (“Deadpool”), Hollywood seems to think that a dark movie about bad guys doing bad things is just too much of a stretch for audiences to be able to handle. I mean, it’s not like there are any movies or tv shows that do that thing very successfully. (“Breaking Bad”, “The Godfather”, “The Sopranos”, the list is endless really.)
“Venom” branded itself as a hard R supervillain story that would be in complete contrast to the lighter and fun MCU movies. This was a movie that was supposed to be so dark that you couldn’t have the fun-loving Tom Holland Spider-Man without permanently scarring the poor child.
What we got was a movie with a smaller headcount than “Iron Man”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, and even “Batman Returns”. The movie did have a few scenes where Venom ate someone’s head, but they obviously cut the bloody gruesome stuff in post.
I don’t know how Venom can bite someone’s head from their shoulders without puncturing a single artery. That’s his real superpower.
Not So Special Effects
While “Venom” is better in this area than most of the other bad guy films in the genre, all the rest of them suffer from truly horrendous CGI and often waaaay too much slow motion. “Elektra” and “Catwoman” especially suffer from this with some really terrible action sequences from characters that should just have well choreographed, grounded fights.
It also wouldn’t surprise me at all if the villains in “Suicide Squad” were ripped from a “World of Warcraft” cinematic trailer. Venom looks pretty damn good in this movie but there are several sequences where Brock wasn’t fully Venomed up so that they wouldn’t have to spend more on the CG budget.
Also, the final villain was pretty blandly designed and barely characterized at all. Though almost every antagonist in the genre is like that so it’s forgivable. Hopefully if Hollywood wants to keep putting the bad guys center stage, they’ll start committing to the concept more.
With a Morbius movie and a Joker movie in the works, let’s hope they do.