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Venom: What This Spider-Man Spinoff Film Can Teach You About Content Development

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Tom Hardy as Venom? Yes, please!

The theatrical release of the highly-anticipated Venom starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, and Woody Harrelson is quickly approaching. With each viral trailer, aired TV spot and interview broadcast, the overall excitement intensifies like a growing fire. Perhaps the fact that none other than the talented Tom Hardy was chosen for the titular role has quite a few people sitting on the edge of their seats – waiting to see exactly what will happen on October 5th.

Even the relatively quick clips of Tom Hardy in the released trailers prove that Tom Hardy could be the Venom that Spider-Man fans have wished for and craved for decades. If you dissect his performance and overall acting chops along with other key factors from the production of Venom, there are several key points that even content creators and marketers can take away and apply to boost the quality and engagement potential of their work.

Venom on the Big Screen for the “First” Time… Sorta

For years, Spider-Man and Marvel fans have yearned to see Venom on the big-screen the same way they have seen him in comic books, small-screen animated series and their childhood imagination.

It is true that the savage symbiosis and infamous archrival of the friendly neighborhood superhero made an “appearance” (of sorts) in the 2007 Sam Raimi-directed Spider-Man 3 with Topher Grace as Eddie Brock and Venom. However, most fans and critics have tried to forget about that ridiculous performance – placing it in the same “Superhero Fail” category as George Clooney and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Batman and Robin, Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face in Batman Forever, Brandon Routh in Superman Returns and Ryan Reynolds in Green Lantern.

More than a decade later, the idea that Venom would finally get a spin-off movie and origin film of his own excited most Spidey fans – especially when it was confirmed that neither Sam Raimi or Topher Grace would be involved with the project.

Lesson # 1: Be Resilient, But Have Great Timing

The Topher Grace vs Tom Hardy debacle shines a light on an important takeaway for content creators and marketers when it comes to resilience and timing. Not every post that you publish will hit the bullseye. Over time, you may have quite a few that miss the mark entirely! However, that does not mean you should abandon the topic without a plan to bounce back.

The key is to focus on timing. If the confirmed news and promotional trailers for a Venom spin-off were released before 2010 (just a few years after Spider-Man 3), do you think it would have had the same appeal or interest from the public? Of course not! The bad taste of the Sam Raimi/Topher Grace depiction would have still been trapped in the mouths of movie watchers.

It was imperative for Sony and Marvel to wait until the conversation amongst consumers changed from “You struck out!” to “Batter Up!” On the other side of the spectrum, if they waited too long to make a Venom movie, interest would likely have dissolved completely.

When developing a content comeback plan to redeem yourself and your online presence from a past misstep or “strikeout”, you must find the proper balance between too soon and too late. Doing so will improve your chances of replacing the disgusting taste of your past failure with the savory sight of your future home run.

Talent is Talent – With or Without CGI

The disastrous Green Lantern was referenced about as being a Superhero Fail. However, most moviegoers know that the failure had very little to do with the leading star – Ryan Reynolds. In fact, Reynolds has gone above and beyond over the years to make it clear that he was not happy with the production of that movie at all.

When his longtime passion project – Deadpool – broke the fourth wall, the mold of superhero movies and the expectations of moviegoers worldwide all at the same time, an interesting question emerged.

If Ryan Reynolds was a hit in “Deadpool”, why was “Green Lantern” such a major miss?

You do not need to watch very much of Green Lantern before it becomes crystal clear that the movie relied on green screen, CGI and other visual effects excessively. The fact that Green Lantern’s entire outfit (mask included) was CGI is yet another joke that Ryan Reynolds himself has poked fun at ever since. Pay attention to Ryan’s performance in general, though, and you will see the same level of high-quality talent that brought Wade Wilson to life. The problem is that there was just way too much icing on a cake that was already delicious.

Think again about Topher Grace. As an actor, Topher Grace has a very limited range. Long before the movie debuted in theaters, doubts and uncertainties about whether Topher could portray the darkness and depth of the character on the big-screen spread like a wildfire. When you consider the quality of CGI technology in 2006-2007, the look of Venom was impressive for that time. They missed the mark simply by not having the right actor to breathe life into the role.

  1. Green Lantern took a great actor and ruined the performance with mediocre CGI.

  2. Spider-Man 3 took a mediocre actor and ruined the performance with great CGI.

To find the perfect actor to play Eddie Brock and Venom on the big screen, it was vital for the studio to choose the caliber of Reynolds over Grace. Did they?

Tom Hardy has made a name for himself when it comes to physically demanding roles. Think about his performance as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. If you compare that performance to Hardy’s performance in Inception (another popular Christopher Nolan-directed film), it is like night and day.

Think about the very first teaser trailer for Venom, which was ridiculed for having all Eddie Brock and no Venom within it. One of the final scenes of that teaser trailer showed Eddie Brock restrained on a table as he convulsed and shook around as if there was something inside of him that was forcing its way out. It was obvious that he was moments away from turning into Venom… but the transformation never occurred. However, watching Tom Hardy literally go through the motions on-screen of that transformation was more than enough to convince some of the most skeptical of critics to start forgetting all about Topher Grace.

Lesson # 2: High-Quality Content Does Not Need High-Quality “Icing.”

Developing quality content has more to do with the talent of the writer than the “bells and whistles” of the presentation. Green Lantern and Spider-Man 3 helped to prove that there must be a proper balance, but that the value of talent and quality is much higher than the value of visual effects.

Do not become too focused on the presentation of your content to a point where you neglect the quality of its overall development. That would be like using a beautiful font to type gibberish. If you were to strip away everything from your content besides the words used – including emojis, embedded images, videos, social media widgets, etc. – what would remain? A delicious, well-baked cake is a great dessert with or without the icing. Ryan Reynolds and Tom Hardy are apparently great actors with or without the CGI. Your content must be stellar with or without “visual effects” to achieve the level of quality, structure, and overall engagement that you desire, and your audience deserves.

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