Back when Venom hit the big screen for the first time in Spider-Man 3, pretty much everyone was hyped for it. He’s a surprisingly complex anti-hero and a really cool Spider-Man villain at the same time. Unfortunately, pretty much everyone was also disappointed. The Venom that showed up in the movie was weirdly scrawny, had all of the personality of a chest burster, and didn’t really do anything but get his butt stomped in a single scene at the very end of the movie because of an allergy to loud noises.
The rest of the time all the alien symbiote did was make Toby Maguire act like kind of an emo stereotype jerk, which was as bizarre to watch as it was embarrassing.
It definitely doesn’t help that he lacked just about all of the nuanced characterization of his comic counterpart in exchange for being a generic jerk while stealing screen time from his alter ego, either. There’s no sugar-coating it — Topher Grace’s Venom was bad.
Because of this, hopes are high that Tom Hardy’s version of the character will be much better. But can he pull off a save like that? That’s a tough call to make right now, but there’s reason to hold onto some hope. Hardy is a talented actor who has proven that he has the chops to pull off comic book super villains before with his acclaimed performance as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. What’s more he was able to add a touch of humanity to the character that would go a long way towards humanizing Venom like in the comics and making him more of an antihero. This will especially be good in the face of the film’s apparent villain –the much more evil serial killer symbiote, Carnage.
Of course, not even the best actor in the world could save a truly dreadful script, so the question is, what direction are the writers taking this iteration of Venom in? The recently released teaser trailer has shed some light on this. It’s not much to go on, but it’s enough to know that the people in charge of writing the movie seem to at least be aware of the character’s status as a conflicted human being with a psyche that can’t simply be summed up as “big selfish jerk” so that’s already promising beyond what Spider-Man 3 gave us. It appears to be taking a sympathetic look at Venom’s origins and at what drives him before and after.
Throw in some cutting edge tech for the Venom effects (briefly shown to already be looking pretty good) and there’s definitely a chance that Hardy might swing away with another cinematic victory- even without Spider-Man himself making an appearance.