Venom Now and Super Heroes Then.

The Venom DVD was sitting under the Christmas tree last month (for me) and today my son asked to watch it. I knew there was no gore or sex, over the top action, and PG-13 so language is at a minimum.  Plus he comes and goes from the room for most movies, only stopping for big cool fight scenes. I felt safe watching it today, but viewing this movie pushes back getting into something from 1983.  However, there are many similarities between this expensive and profitable comic book based movie from last year and the direct to VHS grindhouse style films from 1983.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Venom is a Spider-Man villain turned hero from the comic books.  Sony has the rights to Spider-Man based movies and released a Venom movie without any ties to Spider-Man.  Fans were upset without seeing a second of footage.  Now those that watch the film with an open mind are enjoying it for what it is without worrying how any of it ties into Peter Parker, Secret Wars, and every other turn since the character debuted years ago.

Really, its about a reporter who upsets a rich man.  A man who then uses his wealth to attack the reporter.  Due to these actions the reporter now waivers between good and evil.  Battling the two personalities within.  Until one side wins and the day can ultimately be saved, but not before the wealthy antagonist tries one more threat to stop our hero.

It’s Superman III. (1983)

I’m simplifying to make a point, but not much.  Superman III was made because it could be made, had a lot of outside issues affect it, had even more crammed into it, and has always been seen as less than the films its related to. Venom is not Spider-Man: Homecoming or Into the Spider-Verse.  It was made because Sony could.  It introduces more than it needs to with unnecessary subplots and characters.  Also, for comic book based movies there is a huge lack of toys or any merchandise based on either. Venom’s San Francisco playset or Superman vs the cyborg with Richard Pryor build a figure could have made millions.

I remember hating Superman III as a child because it’s not Superman to me.  The true Superman was the first two films, and the Super Friends cartoons.  Not this odd couple team up.  Venom to many kids and too many adults isn’t Venom because of the lack of Spider-Man.  But a funny thing happened along the way to the Fortress of Solitude.  Superman III is enjoyed for what it is.  A dumb 1980’s VHS and quick release era super hero story.

And that’s what Venom is.  Yes, it had a big theatrical release and made a fortune, but it is still ultimately the same movie that gets cult status from renting or catching at odd hours on HBO or CineMax. Glorified big budget grindhouse esque Cannon style film is still a grindhouse Cannon film despite how much money was spent. So, time heals all symbiote caused wounds.  We know going into it that Superman III is not going to be a classic true comic book image on screen.  So it’s watched for what it is, over the top 1980’s ridiculousness.  We know Spider-Man and the Avengers aren’t recruiting Venom.  Now it can be enjoyed as over the top, crazy action, plots that break apart with too much thinking but hold up enough to get us to the next scene.

Movies and geek culture have come so far but are still the same in many ways. The way we love the 80’s movies now, the movies of today can be enjoyed without snark and sarcasm in the future.  At least we’ve evolved enough to not take the popular black comedian and throw him into an action movie for no good reason.

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