WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Venom, in theaters now.
From practically the very moment Sony's Venom was first announced, fans began speculating whether or not Eddie Brock/Venom's symbiotic successor Cletus Kasady/Carnage would appear as the film's villain. While Kasady does appear in the mid-credits scene to tease Carnage's coming, the main antagonist of the film is another character from Marvel's roster of symbiotes -- Riot.
Venom director Ruben Fleischer explained why exactly this decision was made, stating that an iconic character such as Venom should stand on his own in his first solo film, that keeping Carnage on the backburner could build anticipation for future films and that Riot would just be a lot of fun to show on-screen.
"I think, you know, there’s a certain symbiote spawn that I think fans are most excited to see. So that one was off the table," Fleischer said. "Hopefully at some point in the future they will. Um, so we wanted to save kind of the most anticipated one for the future. And not just that, but because we really wanted this movie to be about Venom."
"And so, it was just honestly kind of like, who’s the coolest looking spawn who isn’t that one? The most badass, you know? That’s where Riot came from," Fleischer continued. "He’s the biggest of the Life Foundation symbiotes, he’s got that gun metal grey. I don’t want to say it was purely an aesthetic decision, but the aesthetics definitely played a big part."
It is also worth mentioning that while Carnage technically appeared before Riot in the Marvel comic books, Riot was a key baddie in the Venom: Lethal Protector miniseries, which the film is loosely based on. Although, whereas the Riot symbiote bonded with someone named Trevor Cole in the comics, it bonds directly with Life Foundation founder Carlton Drake in the film. The Riot symbiote went to appear in subsequent Marvel releases, including Deadpool vs. Carnage, Carnage, U.S.A. and Venom: Separation Anxiety.
In theaters nationwide, director Ruben Fleischer’s Venom stars Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Riz Ahmed, Scott Haze, Reid Scott, Jenny Slate, Woody Harrelson, Sope Aluko, Scott Deckert, Marcella Bragio and Michelle Lee.