‘Venom’ Director Surprised Film Critics Hated His Tom Hardy Comic Book Film

Zack Sharf

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One year after “Venom” dominated the box office around the world, director Ruben Fleischer remains unsure why film critics targeted the comic book film with some of the worst reviews of 2019. “Venom,” starring Tom Hardy as the notorious Spider-Man villain, carries a 29% on Rotten Tomatoes. In a recent interview with Fandom, Fleischer said if he had the opportunity to change one thing about “Venom,” it would be the film’s dire critical reception.

“I was really bummed that people didn’t like it because it’s a crowd-pleasing movie and I’m not sure if there was just blowback against Sony or people just worship Marvel,” Fleischer said. “But I was really surprised that the critics [were gunning for it] because audiences really enjoyed the movie. And so many people who’ve seen it just appreciated that it was a fun superhero movie. So I was a little surprised. I don’t know what they were expecting.”

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Todd McFarlane, who co-created the Venom comic book character, shared similar thoughts to Yahoo Entertainment last December. “I think at times the critics get it wrong in that they forget their age,” McFarlane said about the negative reviews. “They come in, and they’re 42 years old, and they come in with their attitude and they’re going, ‘Stop it.’ What if you were 16 and you were watching this movie? You would love it. … This thing delivered everything it was supposed to. It was gnarly, it was nasty, it has a big cool Venom, which was what I was looking for.”

Despite the negative critical reaction, “Venom” opened to $80 million at the domestic box office (a then-record for October that was surpassed this month by “Joker”) and ended its run with $213 million in North American and $856 million worldwide. The movie’s worldwide haul made it the seventh highest-grossing film of 2018.

The comic book movie’s box office success made a “Venom” sequel a no-brainer for Sony Pictures. Andy Serkis is currently gearing up for production on “Venom 2,” which will once again star Hardy in the title role. Fleischer had to pass on directing “Venom 2” because of his commitment to “Zombieland: Double Tap,” in theaters October 18. “Venom 2” is expected to be ready for release by October 2020.

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