Some may have been disappointed that Sony’s ‘Venom’ was slapped with a lighter PG-13 rating as opposed to a harder, most adult R, like Fox’s ‘Logan’ and ‘Deadpool’, as well as ‘Deadpool 2’. But with Fox releasing a PG-13 ‘Deadpool’ mystery film on December 21, have the studios decided that adults-only isn’t the way to go with comic book projects? If you ask the team behind ‘Venom’, however, it sounds as though there was never any intention of making this movie rated-R.
Star Tom Hardy says that the picture could have gone either way and that he personally would have preferred an R, but concedes that with a comic book property, there is a built-in child audience, including his own.
“Is it going to be R-Rated? That’s the big question and the answers been answered, isn’t it?… It’s a PG-13 in the states, but to be fair the thing can fulcrum into R-Rated. It can fulcrum into youth or children. My littlest ones, they watch Spider-Man and Venom quite comfortably, and Venom toys appear and LEGO appear… So it’s not like they’re scared by him, and at the same time there’s a lot in the real estate that you can actually imbue with a complete sense of gratuitous violence if you really wanted to, and I think you’ve got the right people for that job if you want to push it. Of course that’s where I’d love to go with it.”
Executive producer Avi Arad, who has been attached to various Marvel properties for decades, says that there was never any desire to make ‘Venom’ R-rated and that because of his comic book and cartoon roots, the lead character isn’t as inherently violent as some adult fans insist.
“To me, R is not a consideration. Can you get away with not R so that other people can see? So that younger people can see? I made an animated show. There was a lot of Venom in there. It was in ’94. There’s no reason to put in violence. To define what Venom is as violence. He’s not. He’s the lethal protector, which is a very different thing. We want to be really true to the comics. Today, in CGI and stuff, we can make Venom bite your head. But we don’t have to show the head going side to side like, ‘that actually tastes good.’ It’s irrelevant. What’s relevant is that you finally understood, is that a bad guy? Yeah.”
Because of plans to always make the film PG-13, there isn’t any deleted footage floating around to create a more violent uncut version, according to executive producer Matt Tolmach.
“There isn’t some phantom version of the movie. Everyone is asking us that. Is there an R-rated cut sitting there? There isn’t. We came into this production and the development of the movie wanting to make a movie that was true to Venom, true to the comics, and true to the character, but at the same time is a movie that 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds can see. We had to push right up against it. We’re 15+ in England. It’s not like we just wanted to make a family film. We wanted to push it as hard as we could, but also to make it accessible. That was always the goal.”
But director Ruben Fleischer points out that PG-13 isn’t as restrictive as many might assume, pointing to another popular comic book movie that bore that rating, yet came across as pretty violent.
“We only ever talked about this movie as being PG-13. What I’ve said in the past is that we wanted to push the violence to the hilt. ‘The Dark Knight’ was always a huge reference point for me, personally, just as far as how far you could take a PG-13 because that movie they put a pen through a guy’s forehead so I figure if you can do that in a PG-13 movie you can bite some heads off.”
‘Deadpool’ had a ton of heat leading up to its opening. Fans had been dying for this movie for years. ‘Venom’ simply doesn’t have the same buzz, so Sony may have sensed that it wasn’t going to draw the same size audience. By making it PG-13, that allows them to possibly double their potential viewership. And as many suggest, this could also open the door to Venom and Spider-Man coming face-to-face in a future film.
The announcement that Fox is releasing a PG-13 ‘Deadpool’ this Christmas (which is widely believed to be a more censored version of ‘Deadpool 2’) could indicate that the R-rated comic book movie concept failed to work twice and that Fox is shifting ‘Deadpool’ into a less explicit concept with a wider fan base in order to ensure the success of ‘Deadpool 3’ and ‘X-Force’ when (if) they arrive.
Were you hoping to see an R-rated ‘Venom’? What about the fact that there probably won’t be a more explicit version on DVD/Blu-Ray? Are you okay with a hard PG-13?