Last week, when I posted my fav moments of Comic Con, I had an eerie feeling that something was missing. Something just didn’t feel right. As it turns out, I was just waiting for producer Adi Shankar to release his latest Marvel Fan Film Online. Most of you probably remember Dirty Laundry, starring Thomas Jane reprising his role as the Punisher at last years convention. Well this year, Adi unveiled Truth in Journalism, written and directed by Joe Lynch and starring True Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten. Check it out.
After its Comic Con Debut, Adi posted it to Youtube yesterday and it has been the talk of fandom since. Set in the 80s and done in a style that’s reminiscent of Man Bites Dog, the 17 minute short focuses on a Documentary Film Crew following around reporter Eddie B (or Eddie Brock to longtime Spider-Man fans) as he attempts to build himself back up from his recent failures. Just like last time, this film was made without the involvement of Marvel Comics or Marvel Studios. It’s, for all intents and purposes, a fan film giving a dark and interesting look into one of the biggest Spider-Man villains of all time. Lynch released the following comment in the description on Youtube:
This was 200% pure “passion project”, a dream come true for a comics ‘n cult-film loving fan to work within two distinct worlds I grew up loving. As a lover of mixing pop culture into storytelling, in a Warholian way, TRUTH IN JOURNALISM is pure ‘Pop Art’. I’ve rarely been as proud of something I’ve created as much as I had with this project and thrilled the TRUTH has been unleashed to the world. To CineMAAA!
This passion that he speaks of is clearly evident and he did a great job of creating something that is very true to the character and source material while also being wholly accessible to a non comic fan as well. I never thought I’d say this about a fan film about Venom but the short is classy and artistic in ways that haven’t really been explored by the mainstream comic book film. With a modest budget, Lynch was able to tell a very dark and scary story almost completely fueled by performance. The appearance of Venom at the end is earned. The symbiote is not this slick, CGI-looking thing but instead a really creepy, practical creature that is hard to see at points but intentionally so. Adding to this is the choice to replicate the look of grainy, black and white film stock (the film was shot digitally on a RED camera with the effect added after the fact). But as I said, this film hinges on both performance and attention to detail, two things that all involved nailed down perfectly.
The film is set against the backdrop of 1988 New York, the year of Eddie Brock’s first full appearance in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man. Created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane, Eddie was a reporter who’s career took a nosedive when he outed the wrong man as a serial killer who was plaguing the city. When Spider-Man caught the real killer, Eddie was out on his ass and near suicidal at his change in fortune. It wasn’t long after that that a chance encounter with an alien symbiote (one that attempted to bond with Peter Parker previously) at a local church turned him into the villainous Venom. This horrific foe would suffer from overexposure in the 90s as many a Spider-Man writer (and writers for a few other comics not starring the wallcrawler) would use him at the drop of a hat. The attention came to a head when it was decided to turn him hero and give him his own book. Regardless, the character has seen better days. His previous appearances on film did not fair better as he was brought to the screen by the miscast Topher Grace in Spider-Man 3. But all that history is properly vindicated in this short.
I’m not the hugest fan of Venom. In fact, aside from his first appearance, I haven’t really enjoyed any stories he’s been used in. What Lynch, Shankar and actor Ryan Kwanten showed me with this film is that when a proper amount of actual tact is used when working with a character like Venom, you can not only make him a scary villain but also a deep character with layers to uncover. As I said previously, Lynch does a great job of working in all the details from the comics. The loss of Eddie’s job and his disgrace, his visit to the church and his hatred of Spider-Man are all addressed and done so without it feeling shoehorned in and without any need for exposition. For the most part, it’s just a film crew following a freelance reporter who definitely appears to be taking a slow trip into madness. Okay, maybe it’s not that slow a trip. Ryan Kwanten does a great job of displaying the true loss of sanity and you find yourself at first empathising with Brock to being really freaked out by him in just a small amount of time. Kwanten delivers the right amout of crazy at the right times, never over-doing it. His Venom is the Venom I’d like to see more of. I’d also like to see more of Derek Mears’ Bullseye who makes a cameo appearance in the “post credits” scene.
In an article over at Geeks of Doom , it was suggested that these are the type of films that should be explored in the Marvel One Shots and I strongly agree with that idea. If Marvel was to take their street level characters like Daredevil or Punisher or even the Heroes for Hire and give them to directors like Lynch or Phil Joanou (The director of Dirty Laundry) to make these very different shorts, they might be able to better gage if there’s a large public interest for a different kind of superhero film. Hell, they should just put Adi Shankar in charge of the One Shots altogether. He’d be able to bring them unique, well produced shorts at affordable prices. Something to think about.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!