Venom has problems. A startling criticism of a superhero movie rooted in the MCU but nonetheless an accurate one. This wasn’t a Marvel production, however, and some have suggested that this, like the horrendous attempt at a Fantastic Four reboot, was Sony trying to keep its slippery grasp on its Marvel titles. I could go for hours talking about how this movie is riddled with inconsistencies but then I’d be like all the other Venom critic articles piled to the digital ceiling. No, I want to hit on a much deeper issue, one that I think is the main contributor to why DC is struggling to catch up with Marvel in the theaters but consistently dominates in the comics. I won’t ignore shitty directors and downright villainous plots but the real culprit I’ll be focusing on here is rated PG-13, viewer discretion advised.
One thing I want to address before diving in is the flawed revenue system production companies have built around themselves. When you think of a huge blockbuster hit like Star Wars, how much do you think it made in ticket sales? Or better yet, how much do you think the Marvel movies have raked in from ticket sales? The answer to both questions is significantly less than the one true source of revenue mega-corporations like Disney heavily rely upon for revenue. Merchandise. So let’s focus on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The budget for the original Avengers which came out in 2012 was around $220 Million dollars. They made around $1.5 Billion dollars in ticket sales but in 2013 they made a whopping $41 Billion dollars in licensing or merch. Let that sink in for a second. It is more profitable for Disney to sell you merchandise then it is for them to make the actual movie the merchandise is based on. So what is the incentive for production companies like Dreamworks to make quality movies if they know they’re going to make way more money selling merchandise off of sequels? The answer: Transformers. This business model is fine and represents the cornerstones of our “lovely” capitalist economic policy, except when production companies, too afraid to lose out on merchandise specifically children’s toys, completely destroy their movies in order to get that coveted PG-13 rating.
And now we’ve arrived at my primary concern; that movies are crippling themselves for a cash grab. I can already hear my critics screaming But Deadpool at the top of their lungs. Marvel took a huge risk here. How do I know? Deadpool’s budget was $55 Million dollars, the lowest budget of any of their superhero movies since Marvel Entertainment was acquired by Disney in 2009. This R-Rated Risk reaped rewards. Billions of dollars worth. Every other Marvel Movie produced since is PG-13 which allows for a younger demographic which so happens to be a superhero movies target audience. Or is it? The success of Deadpool should prove otherwise. Sony seemed to have missed the memo. Yes, Marvel, unlike Sony, can take a loss without batting an eye but it’s not just Sony that seems to have stage fright. The DC Universe is struggling in the movie department. If you were following movies like Suicide Squad from inception then you probably sniffed out the signs a mile away. Reshoots. A list of the deleted scenes from Suicide Squad will tell you why it failed. DC decided to cut scenes that actually fleshed out their characters, replacing them with flashy CGI and saleable merchandise. It seems like a board meeting for DC are all the same. “It’s too Dark!” scream the execs. Guess what DC, that’s why we like you. Instead of cowering from that dark R rating DC should embrace it. If DC is struggling with this concept just remember that Watchmen was an amazing movie and guess what? It was rated R.