The upcoming Sony Pictures Spider-Man spinoff, Venom, has officially been rated PG-13 by the MPAA. Many expected the film to be an R rated feature, similar to Deadpool and Logan, but the idea of it being PG-13 has been rumored for a few months. The news is a bit bittersweet as the character leans more towards the R rated type of film. But this may bode well for Spider-Man fans at large.
Officially Marvel had been very clear that Venom was going to be separate from their Cinematic Universe. That the film had nothing to do with the Spider-Man we’ve seen interact with Iron Man and the Avengers. Fans were slightly disappointed, but willing to see what Sony had in store. Sony has plans for multiple spin-off films from the Spider-Man universe, and hopes to create their own Cinematic Universe with those characters. Venom is a test, for the studio and for fans, to see if they can be successful.
With the PG-13 rating for Venom, it’s clear Sony isn’t sure how this will all play out. Variety reported back in August that Sony was open to having more Spider-Man characters enter the MCU. Which means if Venom isn’t as successful as they’d like it to be, they can tie it to Marvel’s current Spider-Man franchise and ride their coattails. That was never going to happen if Venom was rated R.
Disney and Marvel already have a difficult situation on their hands with Deadpool. Having bought Fox, which owns the rights to the X-Men, Fantastic 4, and Deadpool, they now sit on a billion-dollar R rated franchise with a Marvel logo on it in Deadpool. Disney has been mum on how they plan to move forward with the character, but there’s a good chance they’ll push to wrap up the character’s story and then merge the X-Men and other Fox produced properties into the MCU proper. Disney knows that if something makes money, it’s best to buy it and let it do it’s thing, but they also like things contained. Two different styles of films with a Marvel logo on them, not Disney’s style. And if they aren’t going to do it with Deadpool, why do it with Venom, something they don’t even fully own the rights to.
The biggest bummer here is that Sony is missing out on a chance to stake their claim as the home of R rated superhero fare. If Fox is essentially gone and it’s properties are moving into the PG-13 world, there’s now a chance for someone else to take what they had and run with it. Venom could have been that chance. And with it being projected to take in $70 million or more opening weekend, I’m highly inclined to believe fans thought so as well. There’s still a chance that if Venom is successful, Sony will go the R rating route for whatever other Spider-Man spinoffs may happen. But it’s going to be hard to build on that now when they’ve already dipped into the PG-13 rating.
Venom hits theaters on October 5th.