When it debuted in 2018, Venom, Tom Hardy’s delightfully bizarre comic book film based on the ink-covered alien anti-hero, was billed as a love story between man and the symbiote, but the backstage story was a story corporate acrimony. Although the character comes from the pages of the Marvel’s Spider-Man comics and has been highlighted as one of the villains in Sam Raimi’s underrated trio. Spider-Man 3 in 2007, the first Venom the film had no connection with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe as the rights to the character are still controlled by Sony, the studio that produced Venom. Instead of paling with the Avengers or greeting the Guardians of the Galaxy from space, Eddie Brock’s mumble of Hardy occupied his own worm of Venom, a place to munch on chicken and chocolate in peace.
Judging by the promotional rollout, one would think Venom: let there be carnage, the new sequel to the first film directed by Andy Serkis, was more or less the same. And, for most of its runtime, the film is exactly what it looks like: the story centers around Venom’s battle with Cletus Kasady, otherwise known as Carnage, a disturbed serial killer played. with excess decor by Woody Harrelson, channeling some of his old Born killers fishy in a CG-slathered blockbuster. There is no reason to think the film, again produced by Sony, would connect to the Tom Holland with Spider Man films, which are co-produced by Sony and Disney-owned Marvel Studios.
But Venom is still up to something, and the film records its weirdest IP mischief for the mid-credits scene, suggesting that a corporate compromise has been worked out behind the scenes and that Hardy could fall for it. Marvel -verset at some point in the future. How exactly could this work? And do we really want it? Take waffles made by Venom and read on.
What is happening in the Venom: let there be carnage mid-credits scene?
After defeating the menacing Carnage and resolving their own lingering engagement issues, Eddie and Venom retreat to a beach for some much-needed rest and relaxation. It’s a nice romantic comedy ending to the story, a way of showing our odd bickering couple falling back into their old rhythms with a new appreciation for each other. But the mid-credits scene disrupts that stasis with a scene of the two lying in bed and watching what appears to be a telenovela together. The on-screen melodrama prompts Venom to confess that he has his own secrets he is hiding from Eddie, including some “80 billion light years” of alien knowledge that has the ability to really blow his mind away.
Newsboy Eddie, still on the hunt for the scoop, is intrigued. At first, it looks like Venom is about to do some sort of mental data dump, but then the walls start to shake and the duo are transported to a fancier hotel. Clearly, that’s not exactly what Venom wanted to happen. There’s an older man in the bathroom, surprised to find Eddie in his bedroom, but, more importantly, there’s something else on TV: The Secret Identity Show starring JK Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson in the 2019 credits scene Spider-Man: Far From Home. Holland’s Spider-Man is even seen on screen and Venom, perhaps eager to make a new friend, licks the screen.
The physics that alters reality and confuses the brain in this scene is not entirely clear. Is it a different universe? A mental trick? Another dimension? An offshoot of Dr. Strange gone wrong in the trailer for Spider-Man: No Path Home? We already know the film will star Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock, Raimi’s beloved villain Spider-man 2, as well as a number of other cast members from previous Spider Man movies, then we imagine that Hardy’s Venom could find itself directly in chaos. Do they also bring back Topher Grace’s venom? This is the real burning question.
Is it really a good thing for the Venom series?
For many Marvel fans, the credits scene will be the reason to see Venom: let there be carnage. Finally, a chain of connective alien goo connects to the mothership! But, for those of us who admired the absurdity of 2018 Venom and her greater resistance to the dominant tone of House Marvel, this change can’t help but feel a little underwhelming. Hardy’s wacky but engaged performance, with all its mumbles and assaults, remains the main attraction of Venom: let there be carnage. Could that potentially change in the future if the series were integrated into the larger Marvel narrative? (For what it’s worth, Venom: let there be carnage writer Kelly Marcel said Vulture she received notes from many people on the stage but that “the stage and the writing came from the verse of Venom.”)
Obviously, I don’t want to be tearful about this. In all likelihood, the appearance of Venom in the next Spider Man the film will be short and the Venom the films will continue to explore its hybrid of slimy horror, slapstick comedy, and Eminem songs playing on the credits. Sony is unlikely to be too keen on playing with the formula. But, on one level, it was fun to think about Venom as its own eccentric entity adrift of the larger narrative mechanics of the superhero industrial complex. Right now, no superhero movie is an island. (Venom: let there be synergy could be the next title in the sequel.) One can only hope that a trip to the multiverse doesn’t upset the delicate balance of Eddie and Venom’s relationship.