While it didn’t come as a huge surprise to learn that the upcoming Venom movie is going to be a PG-13, you couldn’t be blamed for feeling a little disappointed. In light of relatively recent R-rated hits like Logan and the Deadpool films, you might think that Eddie Brock’s first standalone outing could afford a little more blood and gore in the mix, but not only did the Ruben Fleischer-helmed movie settle for the softer rating, but executive producers Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach always intended for things to turn out this way.
Speaking to ComicBook.com, Arad clarified that the R was never really on the table.
“To me, R is not a consideration,” Arad said. “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.”
Regardless of whether Arad’s words have sold you on his decision, he does raise a noteworthy point that cinematic violence is often more effective when it’s partially left to the imagination. What’s more, this was apparently the team’s thinking from the beginning, with Tolmach bluntly shooting down any suggestions of a less child-friendly alternate cut for the film.
“There isn’t some phantom version of the movie,” Tolmach explained. “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.”
Director Fleischer himself had a few words on the matter, too, and apparently he hasn’t felt too constricted by the rating, either.
“We only ever talked about this movie as being PG13,” Fleischer said. “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.”
Again, whether you agree with the rating or not, Fleischer has offered one fine example of how a PG-13 flick can still pull off a dark atmosphere and intriguingly psychotic characters.
While it was previously suggested that the movie was made PG-13 for the sake of potential crossover outings with the MCU, actor Tom Hardy has recently downplayed this possibility while reminding us that the film is planned to be the first installment in its own cinematic universe. We’ll see if Venom can set this franchise off on a strong note when it hits theaters on October 5th.