Earlier this year, actor Tom Hardy’s anti-hero sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021) released in theaters. Following on from director Ruben Fleischer’s Venom (2018), Andy Serkis’ sequel dominated the box office in spite of mixed reviews from critics.
Although Venom: Let There Be Carnage proved to be lucrative for Sony Pictures, it is yet to release in some markets, and potentially never will.
As part of Sony Picture’s rebranded Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, the Venom sequel brought Tom Hardy back as Eddie Brock — the titular alien symbiote villain, Venom — as well as Michelle Williams as Brock’s ex-fiancée, Anne Weying. Joining the Venom actors was Woody Harrelson as the serial killer, Cletus Kasady AKA the iconic Marvel Comics villain, Carnage, and Naomie Harris as Frances Barrison/Shriek.
Joining the first Venom film and Venom: Let There Be Carnage in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe will be the upcoming comic book film Morbius (2022) starring Jared Leto and Kraven the Hunter (2023) with Aaron Taylor-Johnson. The releasing of multiple Spider-Man villain stories seemingly lines up with the in-the-works untitled Sinister Six project.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage, from screenwriter Kelly Marcel, had a worldwide gross of just shy of $500 million, proving to be a popular pick for pandemic-era cinema-going. The first day of the Venom film’s opening weekend became the second highest-grossing movie behind Marvel Studios’ Black Widow (2021) since the pandemic began and has since gone on to secure its position as the overall second highest-grossing movie of 2021 in the United States and Canada behind Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (2021).
Although its performance at the box office in the already released markets is significant, recently resurfaced comments made by the Venom star may hinder it from releasing in China. Per Variety:
In China, rumors have quietly circulated that it may be due to two ‘anti-China’ interviews that star Tom Hardy gave at Cannes back in 2012 while promoting the film “Lawless.”
Asked at the film’s press conference whether he saw Marlon Brando as an acting influence, Hardy admitted he had only ever seen one Brando movie — not “The Godfather,” “On the Waterfront,” or “A Streetcar Named Desire,” but one he described as “‘The Tea Rising in Shanghai’… the one where he played the Chinaman,” to laughs from the audience. He was referring to the 1956 Japan-set comedy “The Teahouse of the August Moon.”
Hardy isn’t the only one to come under fire from Chinese audiences. In another slew of resurfaced comments, Shang-Chi star, Simu Liu received backlash for his remarks on his parents’ life in China while Eternals (2021) director Chloé Zhao also faced criticism in a similar vein. The report continues:
Hardy doubled down on his use of the term Chinaman in a subsequent interview with Vulture.
When the interviewer noted that the casting choice was “questionable, in retrospect,” Hardy replied: “The thing is that it’s great, because you go, ‘Okay, everybody f**** up.’”
Hardy went on to call Mickey Rooney in yellowface for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” “great.”
“I mean to say: These are legends, and even legends are fallible. Reach for the stars and catch the moon! If I am duly compared to Marlon Brando at all, well, I can only think of ‘The Teahouse of the Shanghai Noon,’ that they’re comparing me to that!”
The Venom movie star’s comments have reportedly been dissected online, with the actor receiving backlash for being “insulting” to China. Variety notes how it is surprising that, amid this political climate where even the biggest entertainment blockbusters can be toppled by old comments in interviews or passing remarks from many years ago, more noise hasn’t been made regarding Hardy’s comments. They go on to say how multiple people have been “offended” by the remarks, with one commenter stating Hardy’s use of certain terms is “racial discrimination”.
Hardy continues to dig deeper into his controversial remarks surrounding China:
“There’s more people in China than there are here. Who are we to stand in the way of what God wants, or whatever your concept of that is? No man can stop a tidal wave…It’s just the rise and collapse of civilizations!
“You face the f****** fear and you face it head on. Because it’s going to happen anyway, and it’s not a bad thing! It’s called evolution. How’s your Cantonese?”
As Variety correctly detail, Mandarin is the official language of China even though Cantonese is spoken in parts of the country as well as Hong Kong.
If China questioned remarks made by Liu and Zhao in their movie release decisions, then these old comments are sure to cause a stir as Sony’s Venom sequel tries hitting the market. It is noted that due to Hardy already having a dominant presence with fans, that the response to this controversy has been somewhat tempered.
As for Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, the entertainment franchise has always felt seemingly separate from the mammoth Marvel Cinematic Universe. Even though Sony’s premier superhero Spider-Man is currently on pseudo-loan to Kevin Feige’s MCU, worlds may cross over soon after that post-credits scene in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Only time will tell if Tom Holland will return to his respective studio’s output or if Hardy’s Venom will Multiverse his way over to the MCU.
Do you think Hardy’s comments will lead to a release block in China? Let us know in the comments down below!