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Spider-Man 3
by yo go re

The idea to put Venom in Spider-Man 3 seemed like a bad one. Oh, the knee-jerk reaction from Spidey's fanboys was positive, but that was just because they hadn't thought it through. Of course, these were the same people who were hoping for a movie version of Carnage, which should give you an idea of how off-base their ideas were. Yes, Venom was popular in the '90s, but he's a poorly-conceived character with a confusing origin and an idiotic motivation. Making that work in a movie was going to take equal parts luck and skill, but if anyone could pull it off, Sam Raimi was the man.

Eddie Brock can't remember the moment at which he went crazy. He was a normal man once - maybe with a surplus of anger, but never a killer. The symbiote changed him - made him somehow more. Stronger, faster, smarter. More angry. It gave him claws and the will to use them. It took his rage at the man who destroyed them both - Spider-Man - and made it potent, powerful, murderous. As Venom, he's got all the fighting skills and high-flying talents of Spider-Man. As Venom, he's got one goal: the destruction of Spider-Man

Actually, Raimi wasn't interested in putting Venom in the movie - feeling he was goofy and unnecessary - but the studio kind of twisted his arm. But Alvin Sargent's script won him over, so Venom we got. Of course, he was never called "Venom," and they didn't put any kind of real explanation into his backstory, but still, it was him. And he was still goofy and unnecessary.

In the comics, Eddie Brock had the physique of a bodybuilder, which is why Venom was so big. For the movie, though, they wanted to make Eddie more of a parallel to Peter Parker. Venom was still bulkier than Spider-Man, but not quite as much. The toy, however, is a massive beast. This figure, originally designed for the odd movie-based series of Marvel Legends, tends more toward the comic side of things than the film side.

Venom stands a good 7" tall, so he towers over any decent Spidey. His articulation is a mix of ToyBiz and Hasbro style, with a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed torso, swivel/hinge hips, double-pin knees and swivel/hinge ankles. Like the movie Spider-Man, Venom's webs and chest symbol are raised elements, and there's a distinct texture on all the non-web areas. Unlike Pete's even, segmented webs, however, Eddie's are more wild - appropriate for a character who'se pretty much mental!

In the movie, Eddie generally left his face uncovered, opting instead only to "mask up" when he was getting into a fight. This figure, however, gives us the full "Venom" face, complete with the huge lower jaw, the tiny teeth and the big tongue. Yes, we did get to see the character looking like this in the movie, but only for a few frames at the end. It really seems to be designed to appeal to the comic nerds rather than fans of the movie. Still, the tendons visible at the sides of his mouth are quite creepy and well done, and if you're going to lay the comicbook Venom's proportions onto the movie Venom's, better to go all the way. Still, it would have been nice to at least have an option for a bare Eddie face somehow.

Venom is molded from dark grey plastic, with a lighter gray for his spider symbol and some of his webs. Yes, a lot of the figure's webs remain unpainted, though they're big enough to catch the light and cast their own shadows, so they still look okay. His eyes are an odd light copper, teeth are a yellowy white, and the mouth is a strangely vibrant pink. You've really got to watch out for the paint on Venom: if the pink of his mouth isn't spilling onto his head, then it may be covering the teeth. If the spider-symbol isn't scraping off, then the gray may be pooled in between the webs. It's just minor stuff, but every Venom I've seen has some sort of error you'll need to watch out for.

When he was released in that weird ML line, Venom came with a piece of the BAF Sandman. Re-released in the new Spidey line ("Spider-Man Trilogy," apparently), he instead comes with two black webs that were originally available with the 5" "Capture Web" Venom. Each web is 6" by 2½" and molded from soft rubber that allows it to wrap nicely around other figures. There are hooks on all four corners, so that the we will grip itself. The sculpt on these is really nice, once you start looking at it closely, and they're fun to play with, too. That makes for a good accessory!

Venom may not have been the best choice for the movies, but Sam Raimi did the best he could with him, and Topher Grace turned in a nice performance as Eddie Brock. If you want a Venom to add to your movie collection, this big guy isn't perfect, but he is the best available. Skip the ML release, and get the newer one with the webs: because, face it, you're never going to complete the Sandman BAF, and the foot will just go in a box somewhere.

-- 08/10/08

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