With questions about whether Sony's " target="_blank">Venom will get a PG-13 or R rating from the Motion Picture Association of America, even those directly involved with the film do not seem to think there is a clear answer.
Initially reports were that Venom would target an R rating and go for a largely-untapped audience for superhero movies -- the people who went to see Deadpool in droves. Later, word came down that Sony was hoping for a PG-13 Rating, in order to reach the broadest possible audience.
In the latest issue of Total Film, director Ruben Fleischer and star Tom Hardy both weighed in on where the MPAA might land and why, and after reading both quotes it is difficult to say exactly what kind of movie they made.
"We're curious to see where it'll land," said Fleischer. "But we pushed the envelope as far as we possibly could in terms of just making it the most true to the comics version of the film that we could. He's a character that goes around biting people's heads off and eating brains. So we tried to respect that as much as we could."
Fleischer's quote makes it sound like biting people's heads off and eating brains is Venom's standard operating procedure, which most comic book fans will know is not the case. The idea that Venom eats brains comes from one of his early appearances, in which he lunged at Spider-Man and screamed "I'm going to eat your brain." Later, in Venom: the Hunger, Venom actually does eat someone's brain (off-panel), and then runs away, Eddie Brock taking over from the parasite and narrating to the audience that this is not what he normally does, but something he had always said to scare people. It was eventually revealed that a chemical in the human brain nourishes the symbiote, but that Brock typically prevents it. Given the trailers playing up the struggle for control between Hardy and the symbiote, it would not be surprising to see some version of that story incorporated into the film.
Of course, as Comics Should Be Good noted in their look at the question, the Mac Gargan Venom would eat people fairly often -- brains and all.
All that aside, the whole "biting off people's heads" element feels a lot like something that would necessitate, or at the very least lend itself, to the R-rating. Listening to the film's star, though, is a little different.
"You want to reach as big an audience as possible with one of these movies, because they're good fun," Hardy said. "My son steered me onto Venom. There would be things I would probably cover his eyes for. It depends how sensitive a nine-year-old's parents are. It's not my place to say. I don't really know what [rating] they're going to give it. But, it can pivot to either/or, if that makes sense. The IP lends itself to gore, and it also lends itself to a black comedy action thriller, as well."
Venom stars Tom Hardy (Venom/Eddie Brock), Michelle Williams (Anne Weying), Jenny Slate, Woody Harrelson, Michelle Lee (Donna Diego), Riz Ahmed (Dr. Carlton Drake), Sope Aluko (Dr. Rosie Collins), and Reid Scott.
Venom lands in theaters on Friday, Oct. 5, while Spider-Man: Far From Home hits theaters on July 5, 2019.
h/t Comic Book Movie