With the news of Fox greenlighting a Deadpool movie after positive fan reaction to leaked test footage, I was reminded of another film featuring a Marvel antihero which received much praise online. The 2013 fan film Truth in Journalism:
As you can see, it shatters any expectations about this being the kind of cheap and poorly acted short that immediately comes to mind when the phrase “fan film” is mentioned. This should come as no surprise since it uses professional actors, such as Ryan Kwanten from True Blood, and was written and directed by Joe Lynch (who is no stranger to the world of horror, be it in front of or behind the camera). The use of a full crew didn’t hurt either. I also feel the film shows what potential found footage superhero movie could have if handled by the right people. I can’t be the only one who wishes something like this would show up in the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” at some point. Of course, that’s assuming Marvel would forgive the unauthorized nature of the project. That’s why the onscreen title doesn’t reference Venom, Eddie’s full name is never given and we only see brief glimpses of the character once the alien symbiote shows itself.
But the film isn’t without its flaws. While the film itself delivers many clues it is set in the 80’s and refers to events from issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, the post-credits scene features an appearance by another Marvel character utilizing his depiction from one of the more modern Marvel movie adaptations (I won’t spoil it by saying who it is exactly). While the version of Eddie Brock depicted in Truth in Journalism is undeniably charismatic and entertaining to watch, his actions blatantly contradict his “protector of the innocent” characterization in the comics. Since this was made as a homage to Man Bites Dog, I’m going to guess this is due to the portrayal of the lead in that film.
Although he did not write or direct the short, this is still a labor of love by producer Adi Shankar. Read this interview if you don’t believe me. As the man behind the “Bootleg Universe” he seeks to use films in the series as a way of “…reinterpreting the characters I love without red tape.” He also produced the Punisher fan film Dirty Laundry starring none other than Thomas Jane. That’s right, the same actor who portrayed the character in Lions Gate’s first attempt at a Punisher movie! Like Truth in Journalism, I enjoyed the film while taking issue with how some aspects of the protagonist’s characterization. There’s no way the Frank Castle of the comics would show that much hesitancy to get involved after witnessing criminals harassing someone. But there’s also plenty to love about the film. The acting and fight choreography are perfect and if not for the use of digital blood, this could easily be considered as a throwback to the 80’s vigilante subgenre. In other words: give it a shot!
UPDATE: So it turns out the guy who made this has been making a habit of pumping out unauthorized films about copyrighted characters and apparently refers to this as a new way of doing “business.” Consider all my praise for this guy officially retracted.