In 2014, Sony hoped that The Amazing Spider-Man 2 would launch an interconnected cinematic universe populated with Spider-Man characters. But instead of focusing on making the best movie it could, the studio stuffed TASM2 so full of Easter eggs, references and nods to future installments that the film collapsed under its own weight.
It doesn’t seem Sony has learned its lesson. The studio is now hoping Tom Hardy’s Venom can kick-start the Marvelverse—and its host of Spider-Man adjacent characters—that it so desperately wants to create. Why else would it intentionally mislead audiences into thinking that Venom is connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Why else would it hastily greenlight Jared Leto’s Morbius without first seeing how audiences reacted to Venom? Sony seems to want to jump to the finish line, but it may pay for its hasty approach.
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The first reactions to Venom are in, and many of them are less than kind, putting the film’s box office prospects into doubt. It’s hard to believe that this is the feature that will breathe life into the studio’s grand crossover plans.
While some responses have been positive-leaning, the general critical reaction is less than enthusiastic.
It’s unfortunate that Venom is already generating so many negative responses. When talented actors like Hardy and Michelle Williams (who have five Oscar nominations between the two of them) take a chance on comic book material, you hope that they’ll deliver something cool enough to entice other stars to follow suit. But the critical blowback might discourage them from returning for a sequel should the box office gross warrant it (far from a sure thing).
On a larger scale, the movie’s failure to hit its mark with critics might thwart the studio’s plans to leverage its Marvel characters for a greater big-screen universe. We saw how damaging bad reviews can be for a superhero brand when DC Extended Universe’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad and Justice League were all panned. Sony may want to head back to the drawing board.