Going rogue

For a self-described movie-buff, it's been a while since I've ventured out to the theater.

I missed "The Meg," I skipped "Slender Man," I even passed on "The Predator."

But I went to see "Venom." And I liked it.

Is it a 'must see' movie event? No.

Is the story kind of nonsensical? Yes.

Is it weird watching Tom Hardy act at an 11 while everybody else is at a five or six? Less than you'd think.

"Venom" has been, justifiably, described as a movie out of time. A throwback to the days before Marvel Studios changed the game. The movie would fit right in among "Daredevil" and "X-Men," when comic book fans were resigned to the idea that comic book movies would be loosely adapted and self-contained. In "Venom's" case, the film version is so loosely adapted from the source material that it forgoes any relationship at all with Spider-Man.

Venom, in the comics, originated as a slick new costume that Spider-Man brought back to Earth after participating in an otherworldly battle where a sentient universe plucked away the world's most prominent heroes and villains and forced them to fight. Comics are weird.

After Spider-Man rejected his new parasitic duds, the heartbroken alien ends up wrapped around disgraced journalist Eddie Brock, literally and figuratively bonding over their mutual grudges against him. Their battles played out for a while until the popularity of the character convinced Marvel to semi-reform Venom into the 'Lethal Protector,' ushering in the 90s era of the grimdark anti-hero.

None of this is in the movie.

Strangely enough, it doesn't need to be.

This isn't the first time a movie studio has tried making a movie about a secondary character while omitting their primary source. Halle Barry's "Catwoman" comes to mind, as does Shaquille O'Neal's "Steel," and both should be quickly forgotten again.

Yet, even without Spider-Man, "Venom" manages to hit all the major beats of the character and it looks pretty great while doing it. It's not a great movie. It may not even be a good movie. But it was good enough.

Audiences seem to agree. Enjoying the benefit of low expectations, "Venom" saw an unexpectedly strong opening box office.

This is good news for Sony, who have been even less successful at starting up their own cinematic universe than Warner Bros. Once upon a time Sony dreamed of using Mark Webb's "Amazing Spider-Man" to launch a spider-centric series of movies, with Drew Goddard attached to a theoretical Sinister Six movie that never materialized.

Unfortunately, the financial failure of Webb's movies (which I still maintain are better than either "Spider-Man: Homecoming" or Sam Raimi's trilogy) put an end to those plans.

Since then, Sony has been adrift, haphazardly trying to figure out how to exploit the exclusive rights they still hold for Spider-Man's ancillary characters.

For the time being it seems that they've surrendered the web-slinger himself to the MCU, leaving them with a toy-box full of villains without a hero to unite them.

Not that I trust Sony will turn themselves around, I can't help but be almost morbidly curious to see where they go from here. Once upon a time it was crazy to think that Marvel could set up their own movie studio and make a successful series around C-list characters like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor.

Is it likely that Sony could pull the same trick? Can they create a successful cinematic universe centered around obscure Spider-Man villains and anti-heroes like Venom, Silver Sable, and Morbius the Living Vampire? And, just for the extra challenge, can they do it without using Spider-Man, the biggest weapon in their arsenal?

Probably not, but I kinda want to see how far they can get.

Travis Fischer is a news writer for Mid-America Publishing and says bring on "The Black Cat."