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[This story contains spoilers for Venom: Let There Be Carnage.]
Venom has once again made a bond with audiences, and if the weekend’s box office predictions hold, a third installment is guaranteed. Venom: Let There Be Carnage certainly leaves the door open for more symbiote stories to be told. Tom Hardy has expressed his eagerness to return for another installment during the film’s press rounds, as has director Andy Serkis. While there’s much (to put it mildly) anticipation brewing for after the film’s mid-credits scene to see Venom go up against “that…guy,” something tells us that will only be part of Venom’s ongoing cinematic journey.
Sony’s Spider-Man universe is growing, and Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock/Venom will undoubtedly be an essential part of that. It’s already been teased that the character will share at least one scene with Jared Leto’s Morbius in the film of the same name due out in January 2022, and it makes sense that some screentime with Aaron Taylor Johnson’s Kraven, in 2023’s Kraven the Hunter, will follow. Both Morbius and Kraven have faced off against Venom a number of times in the comics, with the former teaming-up with the Lethal Protector in the event Maximum Carnage. But beyond probable mid or post-credit sequences, there is a likelihood of a future event film featuring Venom, Morbius and Kraven along with others and a certain wall-crawler.
Without belaboring the point anymore, the mid-credit scene of Venom: Let There Be Carnage firmly plants Venom in the MCU and gives the character his first look at Peter Parker (Tom Holland), via J. Jonah Jameson’s (J.K. Simmons) outing of Spider-Man at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Undoubtedly, the current and impending multiversal madness in the MCU was the cause for this shift of realities. It also explains why Michael Morbius meets Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) aka Vulture in the Morbius trailer. Previously, the teases about Spider-Man interacting with characters in Sony’s franchise led to the presumption that Peter Parker would get transported to another world, but surprisingly, it’s the other way around. Whether or not this means Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) will mention the time she visited the Klyntar homeworld, or if we’ll see Venom trade punches with the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in the future remains to be seen. But for now, a Spidey vs. Venom showdown is thrilling enough. Start placing bets now that a face-off and inevitable team-up against Spider-Man will see the Venom adopt his signature white spider insignia, completing his classic look.
But hard as it may be at the moment, let’s table Spider-Man and the larger MCU for now. After all, Venom has a lengthy comic book history of his own that thrived outside of Spider-Man and Avengers. The end of Let There Be Carnage makes the surprising choice to kill off Cletus Kasady and his red symbiote. But death has never stopped Carnage in the comics. In some ways, it makes sense why Carnage was killed off in this film. Venom and Carnage’s conflict in the comics gets repetitive pretty quickly. But on the other hand, he is such an integral presence to the mythos that I can’t help but wish we got more of him and the chance to see Spider-Man and Venom face-off against him a la Maximum Carnage. Maybe that’s still possible in this new universe Venom finds himself in, one that sees Casady alive, or a Variant of him in existence. Or, if a page were to be taken from the recent Absolute Carnage event series by the phenomenal duo of Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman, the symbiote could use Kasady’s dead body as a host. After all, just because Venom ate the symbiote doesn’t mean a tiny bit didn’t survive somewhere. And honestly, I’m quite taken with the idea of Woody Harrelson playing a reanimated corpse.
But Carnage isn’t the only symbiote Venom could potentially face-off against down the line. Let There Be Carnage also sets up Detective Mulligan (Stephen Graham) for his comic book moniker, Toxin. Though the glowing blue eyes suggest a slightly different take on the character, whose appearance in the comics, as the child of Carnage, is Red and Black, is perhaps too visually similar for the film world. In the comics, Mulligan as Toxin becomes an anti-hero who hunts down super-villains who escaped from maximum security prison The Raft. Perhaps this universe’s iteration of Toxin will see the character as a symbiote-powered bounty hunter, and an ally of Venom.
In the comics, Maximum Carnage was followed up by Planet of the Symbiotes which saw Venom travel to his alien home-world while an army of symbiotes simultaneously arrived on Earth, bonding with civilians and wreaking all kinds of havoc that forced Venom and Spider-Man to make a truce again to fight the invasion, and the return of Carnage. Another symbiote invasion was done more recently, in this year’s King in Black arc, again by Cates and Stegman which saw the creator of the symbiotes, the god of Darkness, Knull arrive on Earth along with symbiote dragons. It’s very metal, and one of the best Venom stories ever told. There’s conceivably a way to meld Planet of the Symbiotes and the King and Black together on film. It’d make a great two-parter, and maybe Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) could get her own symbiote out of it and officially debut as She-Venom. But that kind of epic feels like something that needs to build a little bit, maybe in that Spider-Man universe event film addressed earlier.
In Venom’s more immediate future, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for a third film to take a break from symbiote adversaries in order to test the character’s powers in new ways. Venom doesn’t have a huge rogues gallery outside of Spider-Man and Carnage. There’s the serial killer Sin Eater, the demonic Demogoblin, the armored, government backed Jury, and a few smaller, one-arc baddies. John Jameson, J.Jonah Jameson’s son, was referenced in the first film, and his alter ego Man-Wolf could be a formidable antagonist. Who wouldn’t want to see Venom fight a werewolf? But perhaps the best option would be a character who’s already appeared in the Spider-Man films, Spider-Man: Homecoming‘s Mac Gargan (Michael Mando) aka the Scorpion, and the one-time host of the Venom symbiote in the comics. More recently he sought revenge against Brock as Virus after the events of Absolute Carnage left him paralyzed. Brock and Gargan’s rivalry is a more recent one, but it’s quickly become one of the more interesting conflicts in Venom’s saga.
Now that Venom: Let There Be Carnage has proved the success of the first one wasn’t just a one-off, hopefully the ambitions for the Venom franchise will expand beyond a trilogy. Venom is no longer an experimental first-step for a new cinematic universe. He’s now one of cinema’s biggest Marvel characters, and now holds more promise than ever before.
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