Todd McFarlane, co-creator of Venom and creator of Spawn, doesn’t foresee superhero films going away anytime soon.
While some films and television shows may not be as popular or make as much money as others, in his opinion, each piece of superhero media is a success that can lead to future exploration of the medium’s characters and settings.
“There’s no failure in any of them,” McFarlane says over the phone. “So the question is, does that allow you to continue to diversify into more and more corners of storytelling? I think yes, completely yes.”
Venom, which recently hit home release, is a perfect example of that. An amalgamation of horror, action and romantic comedy, the film ended up grossing $854 million worldwide. For reference, that’s almost $200 million more than Justice League’s global take of $657 million.
McFarlane is happy to admit that a chunk of those viewers were hardcore fans of the character and Marvel comics in general, but in his opinion the high box office numbers prove that people who just enjoy film and TV also come to see these movies. By expanding superheroes into so many different genres, whether it’s drama, comedy or even action-thrillers, McFarlane believes the film industry can create new audiences for superhero films.
“Guardians of the Galaxy was almost a non-existent group of characters in the Marvel Universe, and now all of a sudden they’re just this thing, and that just tells me that you can take almost any character… and if you do it right, and you present it right, then you’re going to create a new audience.”
With new audiences being drawn in, McFarlane doesn’t imagine cinematic universes will end anytime soon. He has no problem admitting that the law of averages asserts some films will be worse than others, but he thinks the genre’s potential for diverse storytelling will circumvent superhero fatigue in the general audience.
“It’s not gonna go away anymore than comics books aren’t gonna go away, right? Comic books have survived and continued to thrive 60, 70 years after the advent of Action Comics #1 that introduced the world to Superman. So why wouldn’t what happened for seventy, eighty years in comic books be able to be translated onto the big screen for the next 70, 80, 100 years? And the answer is it will.”
McFarlane may have co-created Venom with David Michelinie in 1988, but he in no way feels any sense of ownership over the character or how new fans interact with the symbiote.
“In the history of the character, I have my place at the beginning of it, just sort of planting the seed of a character creatively and visually specifically that has now taken this thirty year journey.”
McFarlane, who stepped away from a successful career at Marvel to co-launch independent publisher Image Comics with Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld among others, considers himself a “champion of the creative process by other people.” With that mindset, McFarlane isn’t angry or upset about how different Venom is from when he first co-created him; he’s just happy to see him still thriving.
“It would be almost hypocritical for me to sit there and go ‘I don’t understand why they’re not doing Venom the way I see fit.’ That shouldn’t be the equation. I’m actually more curious and entertained by going ‘hey there’s this character named Spider-Man or this character named Venom and at some point I had something to do with them both creatively,’ and just sort of watching how others take those ideas and put their touches on it.”
Even though McFarlane praises the film, he insists there was “nothing in that process that said ‘oh by the way, keep Todd happy.’” Despite his non-involvement, people keep congratulating him on the movie, but he is quick to deflect praise to the creative team and director Ruben Fleischer.
McFarlane didn’t directly have anything to do with the film’s production, but he does recognize that he can use its success to his advantage. The creator, who’s hard at work writing and preparing to direct a Jamie Foxx-led Spawn film, knows that being associated with a commercial hit helps open more doors.
“It’s good for me because next time I walk into Hollywood with an idea and go ‘hey I’m the co-creator of Venom,’ I get the value out of it too.”
When asked about the critique that Venom may not work without Spider-Man, McFarlane was quick to dispel that notion. In his opinion, if a character “is only as good as one other character standing next to them” then they themselves are only “half a character.” Pointing to the hundreds of Venom comics in which the character appears without Spider-Man or Carnage, McFarlane insists the character is popular and interesting enough to stand on his own.
“Well, I’m gonna pray to the movie gods that Spawn doesn’t work to the tune of a billion dollars also.”
Venom is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital HD.
What We Learned About ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ At CCXP
Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios shared some brand new information on their highly-anticipated sequel, Spider-Man: Far From Home. The film, which is the follow-up to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming marks the return of Tom Holland as Peter Parker following the release of Avengers: Endgame and will also feature the cinematic debut of Mysterio, who is portrayed by Academy Award-nominee Jake Gyllenhaal.
Here are some of the things we have learned about Spider-Man: Far From Home following its presentation at the 2018 Comic Con Experience (CCXP) in Brazil. Click “Next” to find out.