So, let’s start with three things we know:
- Sony is pushing ahead with a shared universe of Marvel characters, all of whom are connected to Spider-Man. Who, at least until the end of Marvel Phase Three, will not be appearing in these movies.
- Silver & Black, following Silver Sable and Black Cat, is gearing up to shoot this Autumn, with Gina Prince-Blythewood (The Secret Life of Bees) in the director’s chair.
- Tom Hardy has signed to play Venom for Zombieland‘s Ruben Fleischer, in a movie reportedly due to open 5 October 2018.
- Sony’s Spider-Man free Spider-verse seems unusual at first. While they’re co-producing Spider-Man: Homecoming and the already pencilled-in sequel, the idea of pushing ahead with their own, Spidey-less franchise seems mystifying. Of course, it all comes down to money; superhero movies are bigger than ever and Sony paid good money for that intellectual property. But still, it does play a little like booking every Rolling Stone except Mick Jagger for an extended tour. Just with 100 per cent less strutting.
But here’s the thing; we think it HAS booked its Jagger. In the form of Tom Hardy.
Venom is an iconic Spidey villain and for very good reason. He’s vintage super villain/anti-hero fare; a man with his own set of morals who desperately wants to be good but never quite works out how. The tragedy of Eddie Brock is that he’s often his own worst enemy. Eddie is a fiercely principled man whose principles constantly collide with his anger. Done right, Venom isn’t just Evil Spidey, he’s positively Shakespearean.
That means two things. The first is that the star of Taboo, the second coolest character in Fury Road and Jean Luc Picard’s angriest clone is absolutely the best possible choice to play the character. Hardy has screen presence by the bucket load, has a jet-black sense of humour and comic timing and can turn the scary all the way on when he wants to. Look at literally any second he’s on screen in Taboo or at his feral turn as Max in Fury Road. Even better, Hardy has repeatedly shown willingness to physically transform himself for roles. His turns as Bane, as Bronson and in the criminally under rated MMA movie Warrior all speak to that.
It also means that Eddie Brock is more than capable of carrying a shared movie universe on his furious, black oil covered shoulders.
Seriously, in the absence of Peter Parker and Miles Morales, there is no better anchor for these movies than Brock. He’s unpredictable, powerful, flawed and scary. His struggle to be a better man is the perfect catalyst for meetings with the rest of Spider-Man’s rogue’s gallery and Hardy absolutely has the star power to be a draw all by himself.
There’s even strong circumstantial evidence of this. Silver & Black shoots this Autumn. Venom, in order to make a 5 October 2018 release date is either going to have to shoot at the same time or almost immediately afterwards. In other words, if Hardy is free to appear in one, odds are he’s free to appear in both.
So, how likely is all this? We’d say 75 per cent. Now, there’s another possibility here which catapults us all the way out to high suppositional orbit. So, buckle up.
We know Tom Holland is contracted for three solo movies and three guest appearances. We also know what three of those are: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Infinity War. It’s a fair bet to assume he’ll be in Avengers 4 and a Homecoming sequel too and that just leaves one cameo and one solo movie.
What if, at the end of Phase Three, Spidey leaves the Marvel universe? A cosmic event means he ends up in an alternate universe, or his entire life, including Aunt May, ends up being catapulted there?
What if that’s where the Sony movies are set?
Think about it; a few years of Hardy as the anti-hero at the center of the web and then when the rights revert to Sony, Spidey leaves home and comes… home. Only to find his dark twin already there and a universe of villains waiting for him. That’s an incredibly attractive prospect, neatly inverting Eddie’s origin in the comics and giving Holland’s Spider-Man something very new and very different to do.
Or, better still, they just do the right thing and introduce Miles Morales.
Either way, it’s a fun idea that we’re years away from knowing the validity of. Hardy’s Venom though? That is happening really soon. And we can’t WAIT.