Since Tom Hardy‘s Venom was announced, it was set to be rated R, fitting in with the character’s darker backstory. There are pretty unsubtle hints of this in more recent trailers, where the eponymous antihero menaces henchmen about eating their organs, faces, spines – you name it. Now, sadly, it seems like Sony may be backing out of this arrangement, watering down the hard R into a more family-friendly PG-13 ahead of the movie’s release in October.
This may have been the plan all along, as a recent Variety article implies that a PG-13 film was always the end goal for Sony. The main reason for this could be that it would keep the character compatible with the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as the studio wouldn’t risk missing out on a crossover with the decidedly PG-13 Spiderman in the future. Variety stated:
‘It’s unlikely that “Venom” will be the first R-rated Sony Marvel movie. Trailers for the film, which recently underwent reshoots in Los Angeles after shooting in Georgia, emphasized the horror movie elements, showing the title character as he’s about to bite a person’s head off. But some members of Sony’s brain trust believe that the film should push the very limits of PG-13 without crossing over into a higher rating. The feeling is that will give the studio greater leeway for future installments that will feature Spider-Man, something “Venom” does not do. Any Spider-Man movie will carry a PG-13 rating because the wall-crawler is more family friendly, and if “Venom” is too dark and gory, it might preclude other film match-ups, not just with Peter Parker’s alter-ego, but also with other members of the extended Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).’
This swift change of heart has understandably pulled the rug out from under many fans who were looking forward to a dark, brutal Venom movie. This may not be some masterminded plan, and Sony very well could have a valid reason to alter the age rating so late into the game. On the other hand, if this was the plan all along then it’s a pretty underhanded move to cash in on the increasing trend of R rated movies for publicity.
In the film, Hardy plays journalist Eddie Brock, who finds himself coated in the venom symbiote. Michelle Williams co-stars as Eddie’s wife Annie Weying, with Riz Ahmed playing Dr Carlton Drake, a scientist studying the symbiotes.
With a script by Scott Rosenberg, Jeff Pinkner, and Kelly Marcel, Venom still doesn’t have an official synopsis, but director Ruben Fleischer has stated the plot will be a mash-up of the “Lethal Protector” and “Planet of the Symbiotes” storylines from the comics.
Venom is set to hit cinemas on October 5th.