Another comic book movie, another long sit through an endless scroll of the technicians that made this CGI blob battle royale possible. Depending on how you felt about the previous hour and fifty-two minutes of Venom, the impending post-credits sequences will act as a reciprocal high-five or an offensive slap across the face. If you’re walking into the film with zero background knowledge on the source material, the characters glimpsed there will certainly leave you scratching your head. Don’t worry; we got your back.
Warning: Spoilers ahead for ‘Venom.’
Having successfully vanquished the rival alien symbiote known as Riot, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and his BFF parasite (gargled Tom Hardy) strike an agreement on which heads are acceptable to devour and which ones are not. The streets of San Francisco are a smorgasbord of tasty snacks, but if the beast needs to graze from the neighborhood, Eddie will only let him gnash on the “bad people” that populate it. We’re talking noisy, heavy metal neighbors and grocery mart stick-up goons.
Eddie and the E.T. are now one; they are Venom. In the first mid-credits sequence, we see that their next adventure will kick off at San Quentin prison. Apparently, now that he’s back to his old journalistic ways, the F.B.I. allow Eddie to chat with one of their more notorious inmates. He’s here for a story, but he’s also here to learn the location of several missing bodies. The killer requested a conversation with Brock, and since the psycho has been pretty tight-lipped since his capture, the authorities are willing to grant him exclusive access.
As he walks down the grungy yellow corridor, tapping his pen on his notepad, the guard guiding him deeper and deeper into the bowls of the prison chastises Brock for even attempting communication with the maniac. He’s a nutjob who shouldn’t see the light of day. The guard runs down a list of rules that Brock must adhere to before even setting foot in the cell. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Ruben Fleischer is in full-Silence of the Lambs mode, setting the scene with the accouterments only associated with cinematic serial killers. Brock enters the cell, and at its center is another locked cage with a red mop-topped prisoner leaning upon it. He’s strapped into a straight jacket, but that doesn’t prevent him from using his blood to scrawl the word “Welcome” on the metal walls.
The crazed inmate lifts his head, the camera focuses upon his face, and we see Woody Harrelson devilishly grinning underneath that cartoon wig. He wants to get a good look at Eddie and asks that he step a little closer to the bars. As brazen as Clarice Starling, Eddie obliges. That fearlessness pleases the psycho, and he exclaims that when he finally gets out of here “there’s going to be carnage.” Cut to black.
DUN DUN DUUUUUUUNNNN!!!
While Harrelson’s character is never named within the actual scene, he is listed as Cletus Kasady in the credits. If Venom manages to be successful enough to warrant a sequel, we now know the identity of the next symbiote baddie Brock will be punching. Venom is a scary version of Spider-Man, and Carnage is a scary version of Venom. Sort of like Riot, but you know, redder and driven by the madness of the serial killer he’s hitched a ride upon.
In the comics, Kasady was a cellmate of Eddie Brock. He acquired a strand of the Venom symbiote after it tore free from Eddie while smashing through a prison wall. That strand self-replicated quickly, becoming its own unique lifeform. Basically, he’s Venom’s kid, and that comes packaged with all manner of daddy issues.
Eddie Brock had a singular mission to crush Peter Parker. He never cared what other humans were up to, and he was never interested in causing pain for pain’s sake. Cletus Kasady is an entirely different creature. He embraced the dark hunger of the symbiote, and their bond allowed him to quench his bloodlust in ways he never previously thought possible. Carnage is an engine of death. Ted Bundy, Jeffery Dahmer, Hannibal Lecter mixed into one brain and jacked up on steroids.
As Venom became more and more popular, and the demand for his solo title increased, Marvel Comics found it necessary to up the ante on the symbiote front. Following the exxxtreme nature of 90s comic book storytelling, Carnage replaced Venom as the deadliest member of Spidey’s rogues gallery. His ability to transform his costume into a variety of Ginsu knives gave him an advantage over simple sharp teeth and claws.
Of course, in the new movie, all the symbiotes have already mastered that ability. Considering that Venom climaxed with a nearly indiscernible brawl between blade morphing symbiotes, it is hard to imagine how Carnage could elevate this style of comic book action. The excitement surrounding this mid-credits sequence ultimately revolves around the casting of Woody Harrelson. And that wig. The idea of Hardy and Harrelson attempting to out-crazy each other is just enough to guarantee my ticket purchase if/when Venom 2 lands in theaters.
But wait, there’s more…
At the very end of the credits, a comic book title card pops up, “Meanwhile, in another universe.” This animated scene does not relate to a single frame of the movie you just watched. It’s a commercial for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. In fact, it’s very similar to the sequence that was shown to the San Diego Comic-Con crowd earlier this summer.
The clip shows Miles Morales looming over the grave of Peter Parker. Spider-Man is dead, and Miles is carrying on his name by wearing a similarly themed mantel. As he laments the passing of his superhero idol, a living-breathing but much older and paunchier Peter Parker steps out of the shadows. In a fright, Peter is knocked unconscious, and Miles’ mind is blown. Welcome to the multiverse kid.
The rest of the scene is a series of goofy hijinks as Miles must haul the inert Peter through New York City. The sequence highlights the new distinct animation style that is heavily influenced by comic book paneling as well as the usual anime flourishes. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse flies in the face of Venom’s nastier, meaner sense of humor, but for those in need of a palate cleanser, this final stinger achieves a breath of fresh air.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse opens in theaters on December 14th.