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Venom and the Disappointing History of the Villain Spin-Off

By Christopher Campbell | Spout February 4, 2008 at 7:58AM

The super-villain Venom is reportedly getting his own movie. I contemplate what other villains should receive the honor.
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The super-villain Venom is reportedly getting his own movie. I contemplate what other villains should receive the honor.


Villains are oftentimes more interesting than heroes. So, it isn’t surprising when a villain becomes popular enough to warrant his or her own comic/movie/book/etc. The latest, according to IESB, will be Venom, one of the three villains featured in the horrible superhero sequel Spider-Man 3. For Marvel Comics readers, this isn’t that shocking. Venom received his own comic titles long ago, and disappointingly turned semi-good-guy vigilante. But will the movie spin-off be the same kind of water-down? If we look at the two ways a villain spin-off typically goes, it’s probable.

First, there’s the villain origin piece, which includes movies like Hannibal Rising, The Scorpion King, Wicked, the upcoming X-Men Origins: Magneto and of course the Star Wars prequels. They attempt to show how the evolution of a wronged person who becomes the iconic villain we’re familiar with. They try to make us sympathize, but usually they just come close to ruining the character. Rarely there is an origin storyline that makes us like the character even more, as in the case of The Godfather Part II’s flashbacks. Fortunately, we already witnessed the Venom origin in Spider-Man 3 and won’t be subjected to one in the proposed Venom movie.

The second direction for a villain spin-off is just to follow the character into his or her own storyline and possibly fighting villains of his or her own, as in the case of the comic series starring Venom and the one starring Deadpool (I’m sure to be showing a datedness in my remembrance of these ’90s villain comic spin-offs). Movies in this category can include such diverse ideas as Elektra, Alien vs. Predator, Freddy vs. Jason, Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Schwarzenegger plays a different terminator, but the concept is almost the same as having a villain gone good) and almost any horror franchise, though most notable for my point are the Psycho sequels, which follow a character that already blurred the line of protagonist and antagonist. Since the Venom movie will have to be of this type, let me suggest that it be both an adaptation and a joint-spin-off by having Topher Grace (Venom) and Vinnie Jones (X-Men: The Last Stand’s Juggernaut) go head to head in Venom: The Madness.

Anyway, because I much preferred Thomas Haden Church as Sandman in Spider-Man 3 and would much rather see him get a spin-off instead of Venom, I decided to put together a list of ten other villains I’d love to see (or in some cases would have loved to have seen) get their own films:

1. Sandman (Thomas Haden Church) — from Spider-Man 3 — because he’s already revealed to be kind of a good guy.
2. The Cloverfield Monster — from Cloverfield — so we can find out its deal.
3. Captain Hook — from Peter Pan – forget Spielberg’s Hook, we need a real Captain Hook movie to capitalize on the success of Pirates of the Caribbean.
4. Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) — from 3:10 to Yuma — he’s on the verge of being a good guy, and it would be fun to follow his adventures beyond the film. Or, maybe we could have a non-pansy prequel mostly starring Ben Foster?
5. Gus Gorman (Richard Pryor) — from Superman III — another on the verge of being a good guy. Also, he’s pretty funny.
6. Selena (Faye Dunaway) — from Supergirl — who doesn’t love over-the-top Faye Dunaway? (see the relevant video above)
7. The Great White Shark — from Jaws – even with the popularity of Shark Week, there’s still room for the defense that sharks aren’t made of pure evil.
8. Harlen Maguire (Jude Law) — from Road to Perdition – Law’s best character ever could use a good back story.
9. (tie) Chef Skinner and Anton Ego — from Ratatouille – the greatest Disney villains in decades; either deserves at least an animated-short spin-off.

This article is related to: Comic Book Movies