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Warning: Spoilers for Venom follow. Stop reading now, and go see the movie. Really, we mean it. Unless you don't care. But really, come back after you see the movie. It will be better.
With an $80 million debut weekend in the rearview mirror, it might only be a matter of time before we start hearing rumblings of a Venom 2. The superhero movie may not have won over many critics, but it played big where it counted -- at least from a studio perspective. While we have to reserve ultimate judgment until the film has been in theaters for a few weeks, a sequel is now more of a possibility, and there are definitely things that can be done to improve upon Ruben Fleischer's Venom.
Venom is not an outright bad movie, but it's more generic than anything that has come before it in the Spider-Man universe. It can't even really be considered dumb fun because that fun is supplied sporadically. However, there are bright spots, so it's not like there isn't a foundation to build a better sequel. If a sequel is on the way, then Sony will want to focus on these points if it wants to create a movie that both the audience and critics can agree on.
Elaborate The Eddie And Venom Relationship
One of the best parts of Venom is the weird relationship shared between the symbiote and Eddie Brock. The movie picks up considerably once these two start bouncing off of each other, and their toxic bromance has some unique energy to it. The problem is that this movie doesn't try to build that relationship at all. The two of them just kind of hate each other... until they don't. For example, Venom's whole deal is that he wants to take over the planet (or something) but has a change of heart because of Eddie. Uh, why? Eddie never once tries to convince Venom not to destroy Earth. Venom just kind of changes his minds because there are 15 minutes left in the movie and things gotta get rolling. He talks about how like Eddie, Venom was a "loser" on his home planet. Sure, why not? Venom 2 needs to dig into this relationship more and decide whether it's a good or bad thing to have an alien parasite live inside of you.
A Stronger Supporting Cast
Tom Hardy throws everything he's got into this movie and he supplies some truly memorable moments with his sweaty wackiness. The rest of the cast? Not so much. This is mostly because they've got nothing to work with, and even high-caliber actors like Michelle Williams and Riz Ahmed are struggling to look awake in this thing. Movies are at their best when everything is firing on all cylinders, so having a boring villain (Carlton Drake and Riot are SO boring) or a one-dimensional love interest just slows everything down. Let Venom be the star of the show, but it doesn't hurt to surround him with some other personalities to keep things lively.
Also, get better wigs. The wigs are terrible in this movie. And we are especially talking about that one in the mid-credits sequence. Fix THAT before Venom 2.
Improve The Villain
Like a lot of superhero movies, Venom is guilty of having a lackluster villain, but that can change in the sequel. Yes, Carnage is set up as the villain of Venom 2 with Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady. Carnage was the No. 1 choice by most fans to be the villain in the first movie, but the producers felt they had to build up to him. That's fair, especially seeing how much origin they had to fit into this movie. Riot, the villain of Venom, is not memorable at all, so Carnage is more than welcome to shake things up. (Though, the character is super one note). The character has a lot more connections to Venom than some no-name like Riot, and even though they already gave Riot Carnage's powers, Carnage is already a solid step forward for a potential Venom 2.
Show Some Carnage
In addition to showing off more of Carnage the character, we need more of carnage, as in, the violence. Venom is holding back when it comes to the violence that it clearly wants to show. Venom bites the heads off of at least two guys, but the film is entirely bloodless. Not that you should just show violence for violence sake, but in this case, it would at least help set Venom apart while adding more dumb fun. Venom is a character that could benefit from a harder edge, especially with Carnage on the way. Carnage is a straight up savage, and a watered-down PG-13 rating might not suit him well. Venom ultimately needed to be PG-13 so it could reach a broader audience (a strategy that paid off), but now that the groundwork has been set, maybe Venom 2 can push into a more mature territory,
More Interesting Action
All things considered, the action in Venom is pretty bland. It has a pretty cool motorcycle chase that makes inventive use of the symbiote, but the rest of the action is regulated to CGI tentacles shooting out of Tom Hardy or Venom punching people really hard. The third act fight against Riot isn't even all that exciting, in part because they both look almost the exact same and they are just slamming into each other. Venom 2 can up the ante and create more thrilling sequences, both with Eddie Brock in and out of the Venom "suit."
Better Character Motivations
The decisions that people make in Venom don't make a lot of sense. I already mentioned Venom's lack of reasoning for why he suddenly wanted to save Earth, but there are plenty of other options. For one thing, the relationship between Anne and Eddie is pretty murky. One minute they are in love, the next Eddie is out on the street. Then Anne gets wrapped up into the whole symbiote situation, but she's really got no fight in this game after her ex-boyfriend eats raw lobster at a fancy restaurant. Carlton Drake's plans make even less sense. Why is he cool with symbiotes taking over the Earth? Is it really just about some malarky about evolution? This isn't Citizen Kane we are working with, but some of this can afford to be more worked out in the sequel.