Superhero movies have reached a point of cultural saturation that would have been nearly impossible to predict a decade ago. 2018 has already seen the release of Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War, Deadpool 2, Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Incredibles 2, which collectively earned more than $6 billion. The newest entry into this genre (which has become increasingly varied in order to remain relevant) is Venom, which came out in early October.
Venom tells the story of Eddy Brock, a San Francisco reporter who loses his job, fiancée, and just about everything he loves after trying to take down billionaire Carlton Drake. Brock is saved by the alien symbiote Venom, who leads him on a revenge-fueled chase after Carlton Drake. Along the way, Eddy is reunited with his estranged lover, takes a bath in a lobster tank, and discovers the joys of cannibalism.
If you couldn’t tell by that description of the plot, Venom is completely ridiculous. The plot is barely held together coherently, characters have very little established motivations, and the final battle is one of the worst I’ve seen in years as a short, mindless, CGI mess of fire, explosions, and yelling that ends after what feels like less than five minutes.
To make things worse, the character of Venom, who originated as a Spider-Man villain, has little time to indulge in true villainy. Despite his love of devouring human heads, the film’s PG-13 rating keeps the character from ever really seeming “evil.” Ultimately, the movie comes across as less dark than the MCU’s Avengers: Infinity War, which not only dealt with heavy themes of death, sacrifice, and misguided fatherhood, but also ended with half of the universe being destroyed.
In comparison, as I was driving home from the theater I desperately tried to think of any meaningful themes that the movie was trying to share and was unable to come up with anything. As a result, the tone of the movie comes off as a goofy, strange comedy that has the lightest elements of horror mixed in.
That being said, for reasons that are hard to explain, I had a great time with this movie. Seeing Venom in the theater, my brother and I both had a Riot (and no, I’m not sorry for that pun). Venom is stupid. So dumb, in fact, that I often found myself if the characters are written to be complete idiots or if the writers are just inept. However, despite, or perhaps because of, both this and the absolute lack of themes featured in the movie, Venom is hilariously fun. The character of Venom’s darkly sarcastic humor and Eddy Brocks utter confusion are so entertaining that it was impossible for me to hate this movie.
In the end, on sheer entertainment value, I would probably rate Venom over the MCU’s last movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp. Although it pales in comparison in quality to films such as Black Panther, Infinity War, or even Deadpool 2, Venom holds a special place in my heart as the kind of movie that I can watch for pure dumb fun without having to put any thought into it.