We Are Venom. Or At Least I Am…

Not only am I watching my fill of spooky movies at home, but I got the chance to go out and see one in theatres too! Okay, so maybe Venom: Let There Be Carnage isn’t a spooky film, but it stars an alien symbiote that likes to eat people’s brains, so I’m going to go ahead and say that this is seasonally appropriate.

Mark and I went and saw this one in DBox, and that’s been a hit or miss experience for a lot of comic book movies, but this one was pretty good. There were a handful of moments in the beginning of the film where I felt the chair movements were underutilized, but I certainly did not feel that way once the fight scenes got going. The climactic battle was certainly an enjoyable experience, but personally I felt like the scene in which Cletus Kasady / Carnage (Woody Harrelson) and Frances Barrison / Shriek (Naomie Harris) go up against the authorities in that bright red car was the best in the whole film. The movements of the seat fit perfectly with that scene.

As far as the movie itself, it was as if the creative team took everything that worked well in Venom (2018) and built upon it. And director Andy Serkis really did a good job of bringing it all together. This was most apparent in the comedic elements of the film. Although there were some moments of bathos, they weren’t quite as unnecessarily jarring as they have been in previous MCU films. And yes, I know the Venom films are not actually part of the Disney MCU, but as Marvel properties I tend to hold them to the same set of standards. Not to mention that the comedy in the film was actually funny.

Speaking of which, I found a lot of the comedy came in the form of relatable content. And I’m not just talking about how Venom’s appetite for chocolate and brains reminded me of my own appetite for movie theatre popcorn. Early on in the film, we learn that Venom (Tom Hardy) has been in hiding, with only Eddie Brock (also Tom Hardy) for company. He lives with rules and restrictions, and has no contact with other people, except maybe for the unsung hero of the film, Mrs. Chen (Peggy Lu). After living through so many lockdowns and still having to deal with pandemic restrictions, these moments hit me harder than I expected. Sure, I was laughing, but I totally understand what it’s like to be stuck inside with only one other person and your pets for company. No matter how much you love them, it can drive you insane. Because of that special kind of cabin fever, I felt that the comedy that arose out of those moments was absolutely believable.

And that’s not all Venom did that resonated with me. Without spoiling too much, Venom has a night on the town part way through the film and ends up in a club. Due to the atmosphere of this particular club, Venom is accepted for who he is for the first time in what has probably been a long time. And this particular scene reaches its climax when Venom makes a very heartfelt speech. After watching that, I would like to officially nominate Venom as a queer icon. If you’ve heard the speech you know why. But seriously though, it needs to be official. If the LGBTQIA+ community could do it with the Babadook back in 2017, we can do it with Venom. Let’s make it happen!

But I think the best part of this film was the overarching theme of relationships. There are so many different types of relationships in this film beyond simply friends and enemies, although the notion of trust is central to the sub plots involving Mrs. Chen and Detective Mulligan (Stephen Graham). And yes, the story was filled with romantic relationships between Cletus and Frances, Anne (Michelle Williams) and Dan (Reid Scott), and the unrequited love between Eddie and Anne. There’s even an engagement and a wedding in the movie! Whether those relationships worked or didn’t was certainly important to the plot and character development, but none of them were primary relationship of the film. Since Eddie and Venom are joined, their relationship needs to succeed in order for them to succeed. They need to be symbiotic. And I appreciated how their relationship wasn’t presented in terms of romance or friendship. Like people who are drift compatible in Pacific Rim (2013), that relationship needs to be something more. ‘

Spoiler Alert: Even better, I appreciated that Venom told Eddie he loved him. The way that scene was handled was a perfect example of non-toxic masculinity and demonstrated that there are different kinds of non-romantic love. It was the perfect way to end a film that is all about different kinds of relationships succeeding and failing. And really, what’s not to love about Venom.

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