Warning: Major, major spoilers ahead!
A fan theory that sprouted on Reddit last week posited that Sony’s new sci-fi thriller Life might possibly be a secret Spider-Man movie about longtime Peter Parker villain Venom. It was clever on a number of levels, beyond the fact that the awesomely named Redditor “Toomuchsoul” was astute enough to realize that the film’s final trailer had lifted footage directly from Spider-Man 3 — the movie that first brought in Venom’s human host, Eddie Brock (Topher Grace).
It quickly led to all sorts of speculation, namely: “What if Life is actually a symbiote/Venom origin story?” Then BOOM, the very same week, Sony “randomly” announces a Venom movie will be in theaters next year, while, of course, the latest webslinger reboot Spider-Man: Homecoming gears up for release this July.
The announcement further fueled the rumor, and this generally wasn’t even taking into account that the screenwriting tandem behind Life, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (who last collaborated on Deadpool), were previously set to pen a Venom movie back in 2013.
All in all, it made for one of the most intriguing fan theories to hit the web in eons, and it came from someone who hadn’t even seen the film. And… well, now that we’ve all seen the film (or at least we hope you have if you’re reading this spoilerific article… last chance to exit before we start revealing everything), the theory conceivably still — for the most part — holds up.
As we see at the end of Life, the hostile extraterrestrial that Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Co. battle high above the clouds does indeed make it down to Earth. The scenario plays out via a nifty twist: We watch two vessels speed away from the international space station where the film’s battle takes place. The vessel harboring Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson), we think, is returning her to Earth, while the one with David Jordan (Gyllenhaal), in the spirit of Bruce Willis vs. the Armageddon, is on a one-way trip to outer-space obliteration.
It’s implied that the sentient (or “Calvin,” as he’s known), outsmarts both surviving humans, and he rides Gyllenhaal’s face to safe landing in a remote fishing locale. In our final glimpse at him, it sure as heck looks like he’s bonding with his host. If this is indeed Venom, who in the comics hails not from Mars but the planet Klyntar, he’s ready to roll come Homecoming and beyond.
There’s also the growth and look of Calvin. He begins as a microscopic organism, and grows exponentially in Venom’s trademark gooiness throughout the course of the film as he feasts on 6 Little Astronauts. And he’s a pinkish-purple hue, which calls to mind more recent visualizations of him, like Mike Mayhew’s dark purple print of him from 2007.
When Yahoo Movies touched base with Wernick and Reese during the film’s press junket in Austin, they were impressed by the connection… and actually paid it some compliments. “It’s a darn good theory!” Wernick admitted. “Quite honestly, it could reasonably be a prequel. Like if that is the Symbiote right there, it ends up in the water, it attaches to Eddie Brock. And it’s off for the running. It’s not that far-fetched. What’s on screen right now could reasonably be considered a prequel to Venom.
Of course, there are also plenty of arguments working against the theory. Like, if Sony had a Spider-Man property on its hands, why not play up the Marvel connection and watch all those greenbacks roll in?
As for the trailer’s Spider-Man 3 footage, Reese and Wernick pointed out that the practice of borrowing visuals from one movie to place in another’s ads is actually pretty common in the marketing realm. “They thought they could get away with it and they got nabbed,” Wernick said. “But then Spider-Man 3 made somebody think of Venom and the next thing you know we’ve got ourselves a rumor.”
Also, while Calvin indeed turns into a nasty, bloodthirsty SOB worthy of comparisons to Venom Jr., he’s not exactly a symbiote in the same sense as Venom. He does enjoy a good mouth-dive, sure, but he’s not co-opting bodies, or Life would be an entirely different movie.
And then there’s the Ryan Reynolds connection. We’ve seen other actors pull double duty in the wider Marvel universe (Chris Evans in Fantastic Four and the Avengers films; Michael B. Jordan in the Four reboot and the upcoming Black Panther). And if you look back at the comics, guess who the Symbiote’s first human host was? Deadpool. But it’s hard to imagine Reynolds being both Deadpool and… dead.
And that brings us to his glorious demise in Life, which is easily the film’s best moment. Not only is it surprising to see the film’s biggest name be the first to meet his maker, it’s a shocking, visually stunning portrayal of bloodletting in zero gravity as Calvin literally squeezes the life out of him. “That was our favorite scene in the movie to write, because from the moment that thing grabs his hand to the second it gets out through the sprinkler system, it’s like 14 straight pages of ‘What the f–k?,‘” Reese explained. “It starts to move like a freight train, and the movie doesn’t really stop after that.”
Reynolds was initially set to play Gyllenhaal’s role of David Jordan (further muddying the Venom theory), but due to timing had to take the smaller part. The actor was excited to bite it, according to the writers. “He totally embraced it,” Reese said. “And I think he does a phenomenal job. The look on his face when the alien is inside his body is so haunting. I can almost not even think of it, it just disturbs me, even though we wrote it and we saw the set they shot it on. It just really, really disturbs me, thanks to his performance.”
And the writers were excited to kill him. “We spent all of Deadpool 1 trying to kill Wade Wilson and he’s immortal, you can’t kill him,” Wernick joked. “So our first opportunity to stop Ryan’s heart from beating, we jumped at.”
Life is now in theaters.
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