Venom, starring Tom Hardy as the titular alien symbiote and its human host Eddie Brock, is currently sitting at 31% on Rotten Tomatoes, but at 95% among Google users. And I’m here to tell you that Venom isn’t a great movie – at least not by the standards that I’m sure most critics and casual film audiences would see this film.
However, if you go into the theatre framing the film as a romantic monster comedy, rather than your average superhero movie, I can guarantee you that you’ll walk away having enjoyed it.
(There are some minor spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution!)
Tom Hardy spends the first half of the film having absolutely no idea what’s going on, which works well because neither did I.
Venom is really a romantic comedy
At its core, Venom is about the relationship between Eddie and Venom.
If you’re unfamiliar with Venom as a character, he’s an alien symbiote who requires a host to survive. His host in this instance? Former investigative journalist Eddie Brock, who is currently rather down on his luck after getting fired (for trying to expose Riz Ahmed’s Elon Musk type character) and getting dumped by his fiancée (Anne Weying, portrayed by Michelle Williams).
The symbiotes, once they find a host, generally start harvesting their organs for food. But Venom comes to care for Eddie, and instead of slowly gnawing on his liver or kidneys (though he certainly threatens to do so) wants to bite the heads off of other people instead. Aww!
As the big fight in the film’s third act ramps up, Eddie asks Venom why he wants to save earth, because Venom had previously made reference to his kind coming to it and destroying it. After some prodding, Venom admits that it’s because of Eddie that he wants to save Earth. He literally has chosen to save an entire planet because he cares for Eddie so much. If that’s not love, then I don’t know what is.
That’s the look of love right there.
VENOM + EDDIE = ♥
Venom protects Eddie a number of times throughout the film after he bonds with him. Though it starts mainly as a means by which to keep himself alive, knowing that if Eddie dies that so will he, as the film progresses it’s very obvious that Venom is doing it out of an affection for Eddie. At one point, Venom is removed from Eddie’s body, but when it becomes clear that Eddie is in danger, Venom bonds with a dog and Anne in order to get to Eddie to save him.
Anne transfers the symbiote to Eddie by kissing him, but I remain unconvinced that it wasn’t Venom’s idea all along.
There’s even a sweet reference toward the comics at the end, where Eddie asks Venom what he wants to eat. Venom responds with, “Tater tots and chocolate!” In the comics, they discover that chocolate is a good replacement for eating brains, because it contains phenethylamine. I’m assuming he wants tater tots because they’re delicious.
Have a hungry symbiote? Feed him chocolates instead of the heads of those who piss you off!
So, is Venom actually good?
Honestly, it’s hard to say.
I think that you need to go into it with a very specific mindset. Arrive with zero expectations and prepare yourself to laugh at moments that you probably shouldn’t, and I think you’ll enjoy it.
I have to give a lot of props to the screenwriters on this one. Venom is a really goofy character, a product of the 1990’s edgelord type of comics that for a while were almost the downfall of the industry. It’s difficult to play a character like that completely straight. But it’s very apparent that Tom Hardy knew what people wanted – and that’s a horny monster movie with some laughs thrown into the mix.
The world is so gosh darn stressful and strange right now that I think a lighthearted love story between Tom Hardy and the symbiote that loves him is what we all need right now.