When Sony's Venom was announced, the solo film starring the Spider-Man villain got some mixed reception, especially considering Venom wouldn't be able to face off against a certain friendly neighborhood web-slinger. In Venom, the introduction of Eddie Brock's villainous alter-ego is taking the tone of a horror film, as the journalist is infected by an alien symbiote hell-bent on terrorizing with its bloodthirsty tendencies. With the recent success of the Deadpool films and Logan, the path to another R-rated Marvel movie seemed like a possible route for the film to take, considering the character's affinity for blood and gore. But just under two month before its release, it seems the studio isn't following in the darker and raunchier footsteps Wade Wilson paved.
Sony recently revealed to Variety that it is unlikely that Venom would be the studio's first R-rated Marvel movie, because the character lives in the same universe as the family-friendly Spider-Man. The film recently underwent reshoots emphasizing its horror elements, but the movie also is trying to balance it out by injecting humor. The studio said the film will push the limits of a PG-13 movie with its content, hopefully not crossing over to an R-rating. With Venom being Sony's first installment in their developing Spider-Verse franchise, locking into a completely mature tone earlier on might be a considerable risk.
The choice of the film's star Tom Hardy does allow for a dark telling of Eddie Brock / Venom. The versatile actor added new villainous elements as another comic book character, Bane in The Dark Knight Rises in 2012. Hardy has expresses his excitement for the character's more violent tendencies, pointing out Venom's lack of hesitation to bite someone's head off if he so pleases.
In the past, the studio considered making Venom R-rated, with their eyes set on the perfect blend of dollar signs and critical acclaim Deadpool and Logan both received. Those films also had notably lower budgets than other Marvel releases, and Sony was looking to make Venom without throwing too much money at it. The successes of these past R-rated films don't inherently mean that Venom would do as well if Sony decided to make it R-rated. Both Deadpool and Logan had specific and stylized visions carried out by well-matched directors and rare releases. They both told touching stories that weren't only reliant on blood and gore to sell tickets, which might have been Venom's draw to moving over to an R-rating.
As the only other studio who has rights to Marvel characters, Sony has the unique ability to create their own universe of Marvel movies that don't have to adhere to the family-friendly audience that Disney feels obliged to. Although Venom may not be rated-R, there are plenty of opportunities to explore new tones in future Sony Marvel films.