WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Sony's Venom, in theaters now.
Like seemingly all major Hollywood movies nowadays, Venom comes packaged with post-credits scenes that teases where the potential sequel could take place within Sony's so-called Spider-Verse, a shared cinematic universe featuring such ancillary Spider-Man characters as Morbius the Living Vampire, Black Cat, Silver Sable and Kraven the Hunter.
While one of scene is simply an extended preview for the animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the other actually does depict Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock expanding his world by meeting with someone who has the potential to change the momentum of his movies.
The mid-credits scene follows Eddie, recently returned to his work as a journalist following the events of the film, heading to a remote prison in response to a request. It turns out that a serial killer has promised to share more details about his murders with the FBI on the condition that he gets an interview with Eddie.
Eddie is led down the hall by a talkative guard, who warns him about the dangers of this man. When they reach the isolated cell, the guard lets Eddie into a room to see Cletus Kasady, who's writing a greeting with his own blood before turning to his visitor, and the camera. Played by Woody Harrelson in a (frankly ridiculous) red wig, Kasady jokes with Eddie about playing up his serial killer role, and warns him of the things to come. Without much prompting, he promises Eddie that when he escapes, he’s bringing carnage with him.
Hello There, Red
Carnage is another extraterrestrial parasite long associated with Venom, especially once he grew into the “Lethal Protector” role. Introduced in 1992 by David Michelinie, Erik Larsen and Mark Bagley, Carnage quickly became a breakout villain with fans.
The spawn of the Venom symbiote, it bonds with Cletus Kasady to become one of the most dangerous members of Spider-Man's, and Venom’s, rogues galleries. Possessing all the strengths of Venom with absolutely none of the (shaky) morality, the character is a brutal killer who enjoys doling out pain.
He’s been killed frequently over the years, but thanks in part to his impressive healing factor (and his real-world popularity), he never stays down for long. The character was at the center of Marvel Comics' 1990 crossover event "Maximum Carnage," which was adapted into a successful video game for the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. He appeared frequently in various animated series and video games, but has yet to make his live-action debut.
What It Means Going Forward
The future of Cletus Kasady, and presumably the eventual debut of Carnage, is up in the air right now. The tag doesn’t feature the blood red symbiote in any real way, instead just giving us a taste of Woody Harrelson as the presumably terrifying serial killer the symbiote will bond with.
Harrelson gives him a jokey nature, quipping a few times in an attempt to disarm Eddie. It’s a tactic the original character utilized as well, a frightening similarity to the talkative Spider-Man. But it never feels authentically scary in a way that Harrelson has performed before (look no further than his role in 1994's Natural Born Killers to see him playing the terrifying chaos of a madman). It feels like a bit, and the Ronald McDonald wig he’s wearing certainly doesn’t help matters.
The arrival of a symbiote could elevate the character and give Harrelson something over the top to play off of Hardy’s bonkers Brock, but we’ll have to see if Venom earns enough at the box office to warrant a sequel before we get our hopes up too high.
Arriving Friday 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.