Sam Raimi was never in consideration to direct Venom, in most likelihood because of his own words on not being able to understand or relate to the character.
Ever wonder why Sam Raimi not only didn’t direct Venom but was never even in consideration? As a filmmaker known specifically for his contributions to both the superhero and horror genres, you’d think he would be the perfect choice for a hero who possesses his alter-ego and literally devours his enemies. It seems likely it never happened because, according to Raimi, he just never really got what made Venom tick.
While promoting last year’s horror-superhero hybrid Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Sam Raimi talked to Uproxx about Venom. Since Raimi is the first director to bring the character to live-action — in 2007’s Spider-Man 3 — the interviewer was curious what he thought about the movies starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock.
Sam Raimi said he hadn’t seen Venom or its 2021 sequel, but that he was glad the filmmakers had been able to find success with the character. Asked why he had so much difficulty with Venom while making Spider-Man 3, Raimi answered:
“It was really more just that I didn’t understand the character that well. It wasn’t close to my heart… When I read about Venom, which I hadn’t read as a kid, I had to catch up on it when they wanted him to be in the movie. I didn’t recognize enough humanity within that character to be able to identify with him properly. That’s really what it boils down to.”-Sam Raimi
At first at least, it’s a little surprising to read Sam Raimi saying he “didn’t understand” Venom. After all, Venom — much like the Incredible Hulk — could be said to be part of the long horror tradition of a man who shares a body with a monster. The creation of the Hulk, for example, was partly inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
But there is some possible illumination in something else Sam Raimi said in reference to Venom:
“The best thing I like about Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man is that they made relatable characters that I understand. Even if they were confused, like Norman Osborn, they still have goodness in their heart. They want them to do the right thing, or Peter Parker. Or even J. Jonah Jameson has goodness in his heart.”-Sam Raimi
This clears things up a bit. When the Venom symbiote first appears in the comics, we don’t see much of its character and even when it makes Eddie Brock its host, it’s before we get to see anything redeeming about Brock at all. It wouldn’t be until later, when Venom graduated from villain to anti-hero, that Marvel Comics’ writers began to depict Brock as much more than an opportunistic thug.
If Brock was an unwilling participant working against his darker “other guy,” Sam Raimi likely would have had an easier time wrapping his head around Venom. But when it comes to his earlier depictions, unlike Jekyll/Hyde or Banner/Hulk, Brock doesn’t come off as being the lighter or “good” half of Venom.
As far as the available sources show, Sam Raimi was never in contention to helm Venom or its sequel, even though a solo film was in development even before Spider-Man 3 hit theaters. Before Ruben Fleischer was tapped to direct the first film, the names being discussed by Sony included Josh Trank of the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot infamy, Robert Siegel (Big Fan), Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek: Discovery), Adi Shankar (The Guardians of Justice (Will Save You!)), and Adam Wingard (Godzilla vs. Kong).