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Venom has devoured the record for top October box-office opening of all time. Though critics dismissed it, audiences are giving it higher marks. Despite the success, it’s hard not to wonder about the movie that could have been had the filmmakers gone a different route.

“The world has enough superheroes,” proclaim the Venom posters and the Venom trailers. Given the film industry’s saturation of costumed do-gooders, it makes sense to emphasize what’s different about director Ruben Fleischer’s parasitic protagonist, a shape-shifting teeth, tongue, and tentacle monster that eats people. The character bears all the hallmarks of his creation during a dark and edgy period of comic book history, so it’s easy to see where the expectation of an R rating came from. Fox has more than proved the viability of the format with their own R-rated comic book features, Deadpool and Logan, so why not Sony, too?

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