With tickets for director Ruben Fleischer’s Venom now on sale, the runtime and the rating for the film has been revealed and it’s 1 hr 52 minutes… and PG-13 – which should surprise no one. If Sony was going to pursue the R-rating for the anti-hero, they would have announced it when the film was being shot, the same way Deadpool did during production. Even though some held out hope we’d get a super violent and dark Venom movie for adults, I never believed that was happening for two reasons: Spider-Man and Marvel.
While Venom is going to exist outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, that doesn’t mean he’s going to stay there forever. At some point, the Sony/Marvel deal that allows Spider-Man and the other members of the MCU to interact in each other’s movies might go away. If that were to happen, Sony would absolutely feature Venom and Spider-Man in a movie together and they’d make it happen as soon as a script was written.
The other reason to keep Venom PG-13 is to allow the option of bringing him into the MCU. While I haven’t heard Marvel wants that to happen, for Sony, why limit your options? The fact is you can’t create an ultra-violent, R-rated Venom and then bring him into the MCU alongside, say, Ant-Man or the other Marvel characters. Making that kind of Venom movie limits your options down the road, and when you think long term, PG-13 is the only option for the studio. In addition, with Venom being PG-13, it’s a safe bet that every other film in the Spider-Man cinematic universe is also aiming for the kid-friendly rating.
While I’m sure this PG-13 rating is going to get plenty of Marvel fans debating what it means, I don’t think the rating really matters. I’ve seen plenty of PG-13 films that push the boundaries of what they can get away with on screen (The Dark Knight pencil scene, for example,) and I’ve also seen a ton of R-rated movies that should have been PG-13 (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and every movie with just two curse words). All I care about is if Venom is any good. Because if the movie kicks ass, the only thing people will be talking about on October 5th is when Sony will release