As predicted by Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn, Hollywood is learning the wrong lessons after the success of the very bloody, very rated R Deadpool film. Gunn warned of the possibility of greenlit R-rated superhero films that’ll try to be “like Deadpool.” The first confirmation of that came a few weeks ago when Sony Pictures announced their upcoming Venom movie for an October 2018 release. The film will have no connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which Venom foe Spider-Man is currently a resident of, and will aim to be very rated R.
This news is strange and not at all encouraging, but that being said, the film isn’t necessarily going to turn out bad. Here’s a list of five directors that I think would be able to make the Venom movie a good action/science-fiction film that is also socially relevant, or, at the very least, just a well put together film.
I’m starting this list off with an acclaimed horror filmmaker, because horror, with its notable use of allegory for/examination of fears both psychological and societal, is an ideal genre to set this film in. That being said, Mike Flanagan is the horror director to bring this parasitic symbiote to life. One thing evident throughout Flanagan’s filmography is his love and enthusiasm for playing with the genre. Flanagan’s love for his genre of filmmaking is evident in the mental narrative of Oculus, the inventive disability of Hush, and even Flanagan’s own commitment to immersive aesthetics and atmosphere in Ouija: Origin of Evil. All of these also showcase how Flanagan’s love for the genre makes him want to keep innovating. Surely, a Mike Flanagan Venom movie would be able to deliver on some inventive, small-scale set pieces, which the comic book movie genre would surely benefit from.
Another director who pays close attention to their craft is Denis Villenueve. Villenueve has proven he has a masterful approach to any genre he works in. He is quite fitting for a Venom film set somewhere between the science-fiction and thriller genres. As seen in his films like Sicario and Prisoners, he knows how to carefully build up a painstaking amount of tension while bringing out riveting performances from the main actors. Arguably his two best films, Enemy and Arrival, are compelling investigations of both psychology and emotion that tinker with conventional structure to make their respective themes resonate more. Villenueve’s Venom probably would’ve been a chilling examination of the psychological effects of the symbiote, and I would’ve loved every second of it.
Having directed cult favorites such as Jennifer’s Body and The Invitation, Karyn Kusama would be the fitting choice to direct a standalone Venom movie, especially given Hollywood’s recent pattern of handing known properties to up and coming independent filmmakers. Kusama has proven that she can direct films that are as thrilling as they are compelling examinations of the human mind and of society, with themes of female sexuality and friendship, grief and cult initiation being explored in her films. In addition to this, Kusama has a good understanding of geography and atmosphere and knows how to frame cold, desperate isolation. Kusama would probably deliver a Venom similar to John Carpenter’s The Thing.
Paul Verhoeven has been perfect for a superhero/comic book film ever since the 1987 release of RoboCop. After Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and Elle, I’d be almost offended if Sony doesn’t even try to tap him for Venom. If Venom is taking the sci-fi/action route, it needs a director that’ll make the film intellectually engaging and/or challenging, and Verhoeven is that director, as proven by the social commentary that drives RoboCop or the interesting philosophical questions of reality Total Recall poses. Verhoeven can also get into the grimier themes and narratives. Sex and sexuality are focal points of a couple of his movies, and that approach to a Venom film would be interesting. Venom and his symbiote always had similarities with Ridley Scott’s Alien, so it would be interesting to see Verhoeven take on what it’d be like if Venom took on, say, a whole city.
Shane Black fans are required to start off every piece they write about Shane Black with “The Monster Squad is great and underappreciated.” That’s the only argument I really need to pitch a Shane Black Venom movie, but let me delve deeper. Black is a master of letting character and thematic truth come out through action. His characters are full of depth, and they spend most of their respective films trading quips or insults and moving through action beats. Sam Raimi approached his Spider-Man trilogy with a similar focus on Spider-Man’s action and dynamics to reveal truths about the character, with the last film (which featured the Venom symbiote) still effectively following this approach. Black got to dabble in the comic book genre himself with Marvel’s Iron Man 3, arguably the best Marvel film because of its break from the mold and its interesting adaptation of both the character and the character history of the Mandarin. Also, of course, Venom will be rated R, and, with Black, you know it will be unique and it won’t be “like Deadpool.”
Featured Image: Paramount Pictures