Tom Hardy's Venom franchise was born out of Sony Picture's desire to have its own Spider-Man Universe despite Marvel Studios all but controlling the webhead himself. So the company went and gave everyone's favorite symbiote his own movie.
The first installment was released to mixed reviews in 2018. Then, in 2021, Venom: Let There Be Carnage was released—bringing with it Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady. However, the sequel ended up getting mixed reviews, much like the first.
Seeing as how neither is generally regarded as notably good by the wider audience, it's hard not to think about what might have been. Is there a timeline where Venom is a critically acclaimed film up for Oscars?
While it's impossible to say, at least one alternate set of circumstances has been revealed: the Tom Hardy-led movie could have been directed by a notable DCEU director instead of Ruben Fleischer.
Sony Spoke With Shazam Director for Venom
In a post to his Instagram story, Shazam! Fury of the Gods director David F. Sandberg revealed an interesting new tidbit of information about Sony's Venom movie starring Tom Hardy.
According to Sandberg, he "read the script and had a meeting" about the project:
"I read the script for and had a meeting about Venom but I was already going down the path of Shazam and felt that I'd rather do that than pursue Venom... I thought Venom turned out quite good though."
As for why he ended up choosing Shazam! over Venom, the director noted how he "really liked the concept and story" of that film:
"I really liked the concept and story [of Shazam!] and it was with people I like and had worked with before at New Line."
The Venom Movie That Could Have Been
So what would a Venom movie directed by David F. Sandberg look like? Well, for one, it would certainly have been in the director's wheelhouse—given the franchises' balance of horror and comedy.
While Sandberg is currently most known for Shazam! and the upcoming Shazam! Fury of the Gods, he has also directed intense horror films such as Lights Out and Annabelle: Creation. That set of projects alone showcases his range in what kind of storytelling he excels.
It's hard to say if Sandberg would have made a better final product, but at least it would have landed in a similar place in terms of its overall tone and feel. At the end of the day, the over-the-top comedy may have been toned down a little if he had his hands on Venom.
While fans won't be seeing the director take on a Marvel property for some time, they can at least still check out his next project, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, when it hits theaters on March 17, 2023.
As for a third Venom film, writing has begun for the project, but it does not currently have an estimated release window.