In the pages of Marvel Comics, the character of Venom is closely tied to his on-again/off-again nemesis, Spider-Man. Both characters have previously appeared on the big screen in typical PG-13 superhero antics, but now it appears Sony’s Venom movie is going off on its own.
According to a new report, not only will the recently announced Venom film exist in a universe completely separate from Spider-Man, it will also be a violent, R-rated affair.
After the massive (and unexpected) success of Deadpool last year, R-rated superhero movies are suddenly all the rage. Fox followed it up with Logan, Hugh Jackson’s blood-and-profanity-laced final outing as the mutant Wolverine.
Deadpool 2 is already in the works (a teaser actually aired in theaters with Logan), and now several other studios are pursuing R-rated superhero films now, as well.
But why would Sony want to separate Venom from his more well-known counterpart, Spider-Man? The answer comes down to film rights.
Sony bought the film rights to Spider-Man and all related characters in a desperate Marvel fire sale in the 1990s. They’ve tried twice to launch a franchise with those rights. The first was with Tobey Maguire as the titular web-slinger in Spider-Man and its two sequels.
Then the company attempted a reboot with Andrew Garfield taking over the role in The Amazing Spider-Man. After a disappointing reception for Amazing Spider-Man 2, though, Sony went crawling back to Marvel.
In the years since Sony snatched up the Spider-Man rights, Marvel founded their own film studio and created a massively successful shared universe. Sony agreed to partner with Marvel and the result is this summer’s upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming.
However, Sony still owns the rights to all the other Spider-Man characters and they’re eager to create their own shared universe. Obviously, Marvel isn’t going to want their cinematic universe mixing with a dark, R-rated world, so Sony is going their own way.
Venom and the recently announced female-centric film starring Black Cat and Silver Sable will be the first two chapters in this gritty new superhero world. Of course, anything could change before the films come out, but Sony is apparently looking to differentiate themselves in a major way.