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[This story contains spoilers for Venom.]
With Venom chomping its way through October box-office records this weekend, a sequel seems all but certain. Sony’s next installment in its Spider-Man universe is expected to be the Daniel Espinosa-directed Morbius, starring Jared Leto. While a cameo from Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock, setting up a future team-up, or showdown between the wicked web-slinger and the living vampire, certainly doesn’t seem outside of the realm of possibility, audiences are surely wondering what’s next for Venom’s solo adventures. Luckily, there’s a whole host of Venom stories and adversaries for sequels to pull from, and this first film sets up quite a few of them.
The mid-credits scene for Venom, arguably one of the most satisfying codas to come out of the age of post-credits scenes, gave a good indication of where the next installment of Venom will go. The scene introduces serial killer Cletus Kasady, played by Woody Harrelson, who famously becomes Venom’s adversary Carnage in the comics. While the two characters meet under different circumstances in the film than in the comics, it’s clear that Kasady will eventually become the host of Venom’s spawn. As Eddie enters the prison cell where Kasady is kept, we can see that the red-headed psychopath has written “welcome god” in blood on his prison walls, suggesting the Kasady’s brand of madness gives him an awareness of Brock’s “other.”
There’s a range of places a sequel could go with Carnage, though for his first go-round as big bad, it might be most compelling to start small and personal. Carnage on the loose and carving his way through San Francisco seems like the perfect place to start, particularly if the film delves into questions of what makes Venom’s drive to kill different from Carnage’s. The idea of seeing Hardy and Harrelson chewing up scenery at the same time is too good to pass up on.
So what else can the comics tell us about what comes next?
The secondary sequel villain: Man-Wolf
Carnage wasn’t the only foe cameoed in Venom. Astronaut John Jameson, son of publisher J. Jonah Jameson, has a moment in the opening minutes of the film when the symbiote Riot disguises himself as the man in order to escape. While we could assume that the younger Jameson is dead, it seems more likely that he escapes from the wreckage or was lost on the mission. In the comics, Jameson gets ahold of an other-dimensional ruby, the Godstone, that transforms him into werewolf, Man-Wolf. Never one of Spider-Man’s most popular foes, there’s a lot of room to move around in terms of bringing Man-Wolf to the screen and fleshing out Jameson as a character. While Man-Wolf doesn’t quite have the excitement factor as Carnage, and should probably be paired with another villain or major plot point, who wouldn’t want to see Venom go up against a space werewolf?
The trilogy capper: She-Venom and the Planet of the Symbiotes
Putting those two concepts together sounds like the greatest ’60s B-movie title that was never made. Regardless, it’s clear from the end of Venom that there are still several symbiotes hanging around on Earth, and a race of millions hovering out there in space. In Venom, we briefly got to see Eddie Brock’s ex Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) host the symbiote as She-Venom, with the symbiote suggesting they would all be together eventually. It would definitely be great to see Williams get in on more of the action in the sequel, and obtain a symbiote of her own — though Eddie, Anne and the symbiote all being bound together as one sounds like a body horror extravaganza right out of Cronenberg’s climax of The Fly (1986)
The comic event Planet of the Symbiotes (1995) saw an army of the aliens land on Earth in order to take over the planet’s population so that they could feel human emotion. This could be a way to broaden the scope of Venom’s film series and take some of the action outside of San Francisco. Venom and Anne against a global epidemic of symbiotes, with rad names like Lash, Phage, Scream, and Agony, could really up the ante and provide for some great action sequences for what seems tailor-made for a third installment.
The Team-Up Event: Maximum Carnage
Carnage’s most famous storyline in the comics is the 1993 crossover event, Maximum Carnage, which involved Spider-Man and a collection of other Marvel heroes including Captain America, Iron Fist and Deathlok. While those characters are clearly out of the picture, others who played a role in the series like Morbius, Nightwatch and Black Cat are up for grabs. More of an Avengers-style event than a Venom sequel, Maximum Carnage could be what Sony’s solo films are leading up to.
While Carnage seems like a sure thing for a sequel, he also doesn’t seem like a villain filmmakers would want to dispatch of early, a la Riot. His return, along with girlfriend Shriek, and allies like Demogoblin, Doppleganger and Carrion, as they carve a path through San Francisco to create as high a body count as possible, would be perfect for a Venom team-up movie that saw the fruits of Sony’s labor come together in a major way.
The next stage: Knull
So after Carnage, and an army of symbiotes, what’s left for Venom to face? No, not Spider-Man. God. Or at least a god. Marvel Studios has found massive success tapping into more recent character iterations and storylines for inspiration, and there’s no reason why Sony couldn’t do the same. Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman’s most recent run on Venom not only taps into the psychological trauma of the character but also expands the mythos in such a way that the adage “everything you though you know is wrong” is more than a marketing ploy. Currently Venom is up against Knull, the deity older than the universe who wages a war against the light through the creation of his weapon: the symbiotes. Along with a dragon symbiote, Grendel, Knull has awakened to begin his conquest of universe anew, starting by reclaiming the symbiote from Eddie Brock. It’s a storyline that’s panning out to be just as epic as it sounds and would certainly be a bold new direction for a film series.
Wherever Venom’s franchise is headed next, it’s sure to bring in more characters, more action and more teeth.
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