The Cynical Optimist – 11/08/08


Venom Spins His Own web

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Sony is moving forward with Venom, a potential Spider-Man spinoff.

For those lucky enough to have not seen Spider-Man 3, and those who wiped its existence from their memory, Venom was a villain in Spidey’s last outing. Essentially, Venom is a symbiotic life form from outer space, which crash lands on Earth via meteoroid. It clings to Peter Parker’s Spider-man suit and thus forms the new black suit.

After a while of wearing it, The symbiotic suit begins to take over Peter’s personality and turns him into a nasty little angst-ridden emo kid with greasy hair and eyeliner. He eventually fights his inner demons and tears himself free from the suit, but the symbiotic parasite finds a new host in Eddie Brock (Topher Grace).

In the comics, Venom was a monstrous opposing force to Spider-Man. In Spider-Man 3, he’s Topher Grace. That’s it – nothing more, nothing less. It’s just Eric Foreman dipped in tar basically. There’s absolutely nothing vicious or vile about the guy, except for maybe the dreadful special effects that brought him to life.

The inclusion of Venom in Spider-Man 3 felt extremely rushed, and news later came out that Marvel pretty much forced the character onto director Sam Raimi – who in turn, shoved the character into his pre-existing Sandman-focused script. Whereas The Dark Knight absolutely nailed the Shakespearean arc of Harvey Dent’s character, Spider-Man 3 destroyed the character of Venom.

As a comic book foe, Venom is fantastic, but as a cinematic antagonist to Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man, Topher Grace’s portrayal of the iconic villain was just plain lame. So why in God’s name would you try to make a spinoff film featuring one of the worst aspects of Spider-Man 3? What’s next, a Peter Parker Jazz Dance movie in the vein of Step Up 2: The Streets?

Sony is hoping a Venom spinoff could serve as an antidote to the aging Spider-Man franchise in the same way Fox’s X-men Origins: Wolverine aims to add longevity to its X-Men franchise. The studio had commissioned a draft of the script from Jacob Estes (Mean Creek), but the studio might be going in a different direction and is seeking writers for a new draft.

Casting will be going in a new direction too. Back in 2007, Topher Grace all but refused to appear in Venom film, because he thought it would flop. Well, at least SOMEONE is thinking straight these days.

Obviously I haven’t read this Jacob Estes script, but I’ve already formed a list of questions as to what could possibly be happening in said script:

1.) How do you make a Venom film without Spider-Man?

2.) Why would Sony make this film when they’re already making Spider-man 4 for a 2011 release and perhaps even a Spider-Man 5 shortly thereafter?

3.) Who is the hero in this film? Are we to believe the vicious psychopathic monster (which died in Spider-Man 3) is to be the star of the film and save the day?

4.) Who’s the villain? Taking a monstrous killer like Venom and turning him into an anti-hero is one thing, but who in the hell is he going to fight? Carnage? Oh great, another shallow cookie-cutter version of Venom and Spider-Man.

5.) Where is the story to be told? We saw the character’s origin as well as the death of Eddie Brock and the destruction of the symbiotic life form in Spider-Man 3’s halfhearted climax.

Eddie Brock is dead. Topher Grace won’t be involved. Why would Sony continue with the template created in Spider-Man 3? The character looked absolutely dreadful and really shared nothing in common with its comic counterpart, other than jagged teeth and a long tongue.

Lets face it, Sony, you’re just going to get the first actor you can find who is willing to eat Topher Grace’s table scraps, and you’re going to make a cheap, disappointing film that will make tons of money because of its link to Spider-Man. Venom will be played by some skinny smart ass with zero personality and instead of showing the character in his true, monstrous form, you’ll show this kid’s face constantly as he says clever one-liners to Carnage, who will be exactly the same but red and black instead of just black.

Stop it, Sony. Just stop.

A Formal Apology to McG

I, the Cynical Optimist, hereby formally withdraw my negative opinions and cynical outlook from the production of “Terminator Salvation.” If you’re a regular reader of the column, you’ll know that I’ve taken every opportunity to smash this film into the ground – but no more.

After reading several interviews with director McG from this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, I am fully convinced of his ability to direct a new trilogy of Terminator movies. He is obviously just as passionate about making the film as fans are about preserving the franchise’s quality. He’s been talking with Terminator creator James Cameron, and also had discussions with the late Stan Winston, who designed the cybernetic killer.

The inclusion of Jonathan Nolan as lead writer of “Terminator Salvation” doesn’t hurt either, in fact it completely changes my opinion on the film. During my previous rants and raves, I was under the impression that the writers of “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” were heavily influencing the story – and that made me exceptionally nervous. But obviously there’s nothing to worry about, with one of the writers of “The Dark Knight” plotting out this new trilogy.

McG has surrounded himself with people who are ardent in their adoration for this franchise, and after seeing the teaser trailer I have no choice but to give up my war of hate against the director and his ‘blasphemous’ new trilogy. Forget about Harvey Dent, I Believe in McG.

But, there are still some worries that linger. We’ve all heard the crazy rumors surrounding the project – the leaked ending, Linda Hamilton’s return, and perhaps the strangest one – Arnold Schwarzenegger’s head imposed on the body of Roland Kickinger. I need to see more footage of the film – the teaser trailer is great, but there’s barely enough there to sink my teeth into.

I also look forward to seeing Sam Worthingon in action within the Terminator universe, as I just saw him in “Rogue,” and thought he was great. And by the way, check out my DVD review of “Rogue,” and my subsequent interview with Greg Mclean!

Did You Know?

In an early draft of the “Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines” script, Lance Henriksen was to reprise the role of Detective Vukovich (from 1984’s “The Terminator”), having the character bound to a wheelchair following the events of the first Terminator. The idea was eventually dropped.

In “Beetlejuice,” actor Michael Keaton only appears in 17.5 minutes of the film’s entire 92-minute running time. He spent two weeks filming his part.


You should definitely go pick up “Rogue,” the man-eating crocodile movie by Australian writer/director Greg Mclean, which was recently released on DVD.

If you’re interested in learning more about the behind-the-scenes aspect of Christopher Nolan’s, “The Dark Knight,” then check out The Dark Knight: Featuring Production Art and Full Shooting Script. It’s a new hardcover book that shows early concept art for the Joker as well as the entire script.

That’s it for this week. As always, send your questions, comments and concerns to