Well, it’s safe to say that Josh Brolin as Cable is no longer the most unexpected comic book movie casting news of the year.
To the surprise of just about everyone, Tom Hardy has been cast in the title role of ‘Venom,’ Sony’s long in-development spin-off of ‘Spider-Man’ centred on the monstrous black-suited doppelganger of the web-slinging hero.
Variety broke the news, and just to make it extra-official shared a selfie of Hardy in a Venom T-shirt.
‘Venom’ has had a long and chequered past. The character first appeared in 2007’s ‘Spider-Man 3,’ which cast Topher Grace as Eddie Brock, a rival of Peter Parker who merges with a wrathful alien symbiote. However, it was widely known even at the time that director/co-writer Sam Raimi had little interest in the character, only including him in the film at the behest of the producers.
These off-camera tensions took their toll, and ‘Spider-Man 3’ was widely agreed to be a major let-down after the success of the first two films. This wound up having a particular sting when Raimi’s planned ‘Spider-Man 4’ was scrapped in favour of reboot ‘The Amazing Spider-Man.’
Nonetheless, word of a ‘Venom’ solo movie soon got about, but really gained traction in the run-up to 2014’s ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2,’ when Sony were first reported to have big plans for a Spidey-based cinematic universe in the Marvel mould. However, the largely negative reaction to ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ led to a major rethink, resulting in Sony reaching an unprecedented agreement with Marvel Studios to share the rights to arguably the most iconic Marvel superhero of them all.
It should be emphasised that, unlike the upcoming ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ and its inevitable sequel, ‘Venom’ will not be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Instead, it represents a revival of Sony’s earlier Spider-verse plans: an animated movie based around new Spider-Man Miles Morales is also in production, and ‘Black Cat’ and ‘Silver Sable’ are said to be on the cards.
Hardy is said to be a “huge fan” of the character, created in 1988 by writer-artist Todd McFarlane, and the actor’s attachment to the project should give it a major credibility boost with fans; even more so than the announcement of the film’s director, Ruben Fleischer (director of ‘Zombieland’ and ‘Gangster Squad,’ who was also among those considered to direct Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man’).
This will be the second time Hardy has taken a comic book role, and once again it’s a bad guy, following on from his scene-stealing performance as Bane in ‘The Dark Knight Rises.’ He was also the first actor cast as Rick Flag, the role ultimately played by Joel Kinnaman in ‘Suicide Squad,’ but dropped out over reported concerns about the script (something many would later agree with).
Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner are writing the screenplay for ‘Venom,’ which is said to take a dark, horror-oriented angle, doubtless with a view to repeating the success of R-rated comic book movies ‘Deadpool’ and ‘Logan.’
‘Venom’ is scheduled to open in cinemas on 5 October 2018.