The other week the MPAA handed down a PG-13 rating for “Venom,” the upcoming Tom Hardy-led film based on the Marvel Comics hero.
The rating wasn’t a huge surprise. Throughout production, it was assumed the film was shooting for an R-rating, with comments from the actors and director suggesting as much, but they also had to build in the option for a PG-13 version – even though it’s a film about a monster that tears limbs off and eats people with his giant teeth.
The film’s studio Sony Pictures have made it clear they want to launch their own mini-Marvel Universe and potentially get Spider-Man to crossover with Venom at some point in the future, something they couldn’t really do with an R-rated film. So the PG-13 was not unexpected, albeit disappointing – especially in this age when R-rated comic book movies like “Logan” and “Deadpool” have achieved such box-office success.
Thus we come to today and those doing the press for the film are offering conflicting stories about just how dark the film is supposed to be. On the one hand there’s Hardy himself who, whilst speaking with Comics Explained (via The Playlist) alongside his co-star Riz Ahmed, was asked what his favorite scene to film was.
His answer: “There’s things that aren’t in this movie. There are like 30 to 40 minutes worth of scenes that aren’t in this movie… Mad puppeteering scenes. Dark comedy scenes. You know what I mean? They just never made it.”
Ahmed then reportedly interjected with the joke, suggesting those scenes weren’t up to par with the rest of the production and adding: “I hate to break it to you” to which Hardy then alluded to the Sad Ben Affleck meme saying: “Is that ‘The Sound of Silence’ that plays on my face? ‘Hello darkness, my old friend.’ Thanks, bro.”
The comments follow on from similar comments from the film’s director Ruben Fleischer who hinted that there might be an unrated cut in some form out there. Was the original intention to do a full adult-oriented R-rated film and then studio mandates led to it being slightly neutered?
That’s not the case according to producer Avi Arad who tells ComicBook.com: “To me, R is not a consideration. Can you get away with not R so that other people can see? So that younger people can see? I made an animated show. There was a lot of Venom in there. It was in ’94. There’s no reason to put in violence. To define what Venom is as violence. He’s not. He’s the lethal protector, which is a very different thing. We want to be really true to the comics. Today, in CGI and stuff, we can make Venom bite your head. But we don’t have to show the head going side to side like, ‘that actually tastes good.’ It’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is that you finally understood, is that a bad guy? Yeah.”
Co-producer Matt Tolmach is an agreement with Arad: “There isn’t some phantom version of the movie. Everyone is asking us that. Is there an R-rated cut sitting there? There isn’t. We came into this production and the development of the movie wanting to make a movie that was true to Venom, true to the comics, and true to the character, but at the same time is a movie that 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds can see. We had to push right up against it. We’re 15+ in England. It’s not like we just wanted to make a family film. We wanted to push it as hard as we could, but also to make it accessible. That was always the goal.”
Both producers are now moving forward on their “Spider-Man” spin-off universe plans, confirming to the same outlet that the Jared Leto-led “Morbius the Living Vampire” film is next up for them and seemingly taking precedence over the “Silver and Black” film that previously seemed to be the next cab off the rank. “Venom” hits theaters on October 5th.
Photo Source: Michael Michera