WARNING: HERE BE SPOILERS.
I have to say, I had a great time at Venom. It was charming. It was funny. Tom Hardy was acting his little heart out. And it ended on a high note! I can’t remember the last time I left a movie feeling so satisfied. Ant-Man and the Wasp, maybe? I am a sucker for odd couple stories, and if one half of the couple is a gross, bloodthirsty, weirdly-petty-but-also-weirdly-susceptible-to-kindness monster, all the better! I also really enjoyed how in love with Eddie Venom was (WITH HIS LAST BIT OF STRENGTH HE SHAPED HIMSELF INTO A PARACHUTE MY HEART), and (look, I’m easy) I laughed out loud in the theater when Annie and Eddie agreed that it felt good having Venom inside them.
I did have some concerns about various production stuff (why is Venom shaped like that? Why are all the action sequences so choppy and dark? Why didn’t Jenny Slate have more lines and maybe Michelle Williams’s role? She is LUMINOUS) but I am here to doctor the BOOK so I will limit myself to that.
1. Cut the entire first act, and start with Eddie living alone in his dirty apartment.
The scenes of Eddie in his neighborhood set him up perfectly as unsuccessful, even a “loser”, but also a genuinely nice guy. It also gets us to the good stuff faster (which in turn allows more time to develop other elements).
For me, Eddie’s defining moment as a character was when he tried to break Maria out of containment with a fire extinguisher. It was the first point in the film where I really rooted for him. It establishes him as a guy who does the very best he can in a complicated and scary world with the imperfect tools available to him (mental, emotional, and physical). He’s out of his depth, he didn’t look before he leaped, he probably could have had a better plan going in, but his intentions are absolutely pure.
The first act mostly established him as an incompetent journalist and a shitty boyfriend who doesn’t respect privacy. He then had to regain ground with the audience. It would be very easy to simply give us the information about how he got to where he is through dialogue with Annie.
2. Define secondary character arcs more clearly. They had some really compelling stuff! Annie’s transition from corporate lawyer (I think????? they gave me that info so fast I’m honestly not sure if she was prosecuting the Life Foundation or working for them) to public defender!!! Carlton Drake, too, could have been WAY more entertaining than he was. I love the archtype of the “visionary” with a cult of personality who’s really just a ruthless businessman, and I also loved that his intro as a character was encouraging kids to “dare to ask questions”, only to lose his shit five seconds later when Eddie actually asked him a question. But it mostly got lost in the shuffle.
3. Develop more about what makes a symbiote and a host compatible. Why was Drake a successful host? What was different about his relationship with his symbiote, and Eddie’s relationship with Venom?
4. If the whole point is Eddie and Venom forging a relationship in which Eddie has semi-autonomy, I think it’s kind of silly to have their power moment be “WE are Venom” when Venom was named Venom the whole time. Why not have Venom start out with a different name, and he and Eddie come up with Venom together?
5. Really rethink all the logic of all the action sequences. In the car chase, why would Eddie/Venom stick to the roads once all the drones are eliminated? If Eddie/Venom only needed to destroy the rocket, why try to overpower Drake/Riot? If E/V’s plan all along was to launch the rocket with D/R inside, then explode it, why not hide and wait instead of attacking? How did D/R launch a rocket anyway after killing the entire launch staff??? If D/R wanted Eddie alive, what was the deal with that whole scene where he fought a SWAT team? Confusing.
6. Okay one last thing: the movie went to all this trouble to establish Eddie as a contrary maverick who never does what anyone else wants if it conflicts with his own sense of what’s right, only to have him cave like sponge cake when Venom says “I’m here to conquer the earth, do what I want and maybe you’ll survive when I bring a swarm of fellow symbiotes here with this rocket we’re about to steal.” That is like, EXACTLY what would not play with Eddie as written. It’s a perfectly easy fix: just indicate that Eddie is rolling with the punches and waiting for an opening. Or indicate that he figures he’ll have a better chance of defeating Venom at the Life Foundation so he agrees to go there. SOMETHING.
What do you think? How would you improve the Venom script?
I began this series to celebrate my new book doctoring and research assistance freelance business, Rose Does the Research.
I promise if you hire me, I will give you much gentler feedback than this!