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Back before we had seen anything from Sony's upcoming Venom movie, we learned, or at least thought we learned, that the symbiote anti-hero would be brought to life onscreen through the use of CGI with actor Tom Hardy performing motion capture. This made sense, as no amount of makeup or costuming could do the character justice, and motion/performance capture is increasingly used for bringing these kinds of otherworldly characters to life in blockbuster movies. However, it now turns out that although Venom is still being brought to life through CGI, Tom Hardy did not do any motion capture for the role, as he explained:
It wasn't motion-capture, because the eyeballs on the creature, on Venom, and the mouth, they don't match with my eyeballs and mouth. So the mo-cap treatment went out of the window pretty quickly... Facially, your eyes and teeth and tongue are not going to match with this. And you need a 7ft tall basketball player in a Lycra suit for the physical shots.
It sounds like practical and logistical considerations ruled out the use of motion capture more than anything else. Unlike a character like Thanos, Venom's facial features are far from human, and as Tom Hardy told Total Film (via ScreenRant), because his eyes and mouth wouldn't match up with the symbiote's, that meant that performance capture wouldn't work. On the motion capture front, to convey Venom's movements, Tom Hardy doesn't have the height or the build, so that too was eschewed. The fact that Tom Hardy didn't perform motion capture for Venom would seem to indicate that the digital animators created all of the character's movements and expressions. That is unless they really did recruit a really tall person for the movements.
This is interesting because motion and performance capture are common in blockbusters, especially superhero movies. In Avengers: Infinity War earlier this year, we saw Josh Brolin's Thanos, for whom he performed motion and performance capture. Obviously Josh Brolin doesn't have Thanos' height, but they still chose to do motion capture. And as far as not matching up to the character, Benedict Cumberbatch did motion capture for Smaug in The Hobbit, so it makes you wonder about what the differences are and the technical aspects that inform these decisions.
I guess it comes down to a question of how much motion and performance capture are really translating the actor's performance when the actor and the character are so different. If so much has to be filled in and changed that the actor's performance is barely there anymore, perhaps it makes sense to just not bother altogether. Part of what is exciting though about a Tom Hardy Venom is the actor's physicality that he brings to the role. So hopefully that still comes through in the film. If nothing else, Tom Hardy will be providing the voice for the character.
Fortunately we don't have to wait too much longer to see how this second attempt at a big screen Venom turns out. Venom, which will probably by PG-13, not rated R, is on track for a big opening when it premieres in theaters on October 5. For all the biggest movies opening the rest of this year, check out our release guide.