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Venom: a lame character gets a lamer trailer

This week started so well, with a kickass trailer for Mission: Impossible – Fallout that got my blood pumping and instantly sold me on the sixth chapter in what should be a moribund franchise by this point. And then yesterday, Sony dropped… whatever this is:

This is a great example of how not to show your movie to the world for the first time. This is a trailer so generic, so lacking in any indication of what makes its story unique or interesting, that you could slap any sci-fi/horror title on the end, like ‘Mindwipe’ or ‘Brainfreak’ or whatever, and it would still make just as much sense. Hell, if you told me that this was a fan-made endeavour cobbled together using clips from other Tom Hardy movies, I’d probably believe you.

The decision not to show Venom at all in this trailer is baffling. He’s a paper-thin character whose popularity stems almost entirely from looking cool, so I don’t really understand why they’re not capitalising on that appeal. Without even a glimpse at the titular character, there’s just not a lot to go on or to contextualise Tom Hardy’s raspy monologue. I’ve read a few arguments that this is a teaser and as such, it’s good that it doesn’t give too much away, but I disagree; there’s nothing actually being teased here. A tease would be a glimpse of Venom’s face, his snarling maw appearing for just a couple of frames before cutting to black and leaving us wanting more. But I know nothing now that I didn’t already before watching the trailer, and that’s kind of a problem. Rather than being enticed I’m just a bit perplexed, and not in a way that makes me curious.

I don’t really understand why this film is being made. Well, I do-money, duh-but I still don’t really understand why. With Peter Parker out on loan to Marvel Studios, Sony is clearly keen to take advantage of the huge stable of Spider-Man characters under their ownership, but Venom is an odd place to start. His only interesting aspects as a character are found in his relationship with Spider-Man, and it’s clear that Spidey won’t be showing up here in any significant way. Much like the much-maligned Catwoman, this feels like a shameless cash-grab, a cynical bet that audiences will flock to see any film that features a big star and a tangential connection to a more popular property. But Catwoman bombed catastrophically and derailed Halle Berry’s career so badly that she’s never quite recovered. Will the same happen here? We’ll see.

Whether anyone wants it or not, Venom opens on 5th October.

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