Venom: Let there be Carnage; A not so symbiotic relationship between a PG-13 rating and a character that could only benefit from the R title, now, let there be no more of these movies


Sam Mroz, Staff Writer

As 2018’s Venom saw Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock paired with a slush of black alien goo, the film performed quite well despite its unfavorable critical reception.

Grossing numbers that matched those of the MCU, Sony saw Venom as a way to progress its own universe, a universe that is legally withheld from utilizing the catalogue of Marvel characters that Disney has at its disposal.

Being otherwise second fiddle to the main Marvel run of movies, Sony has held a tight grip on the superhero domains they have acquired in the past from the comic book distributer.

It is the ace under Sony’s sleeve, everybody’s favorite neighborhood Spider-Man and the rogues gallery that comes with him, that has allowed Sony to rival the Mickey Mouse faced titan of Disney.

Multiple versions of the character have been told in live action, with Tom Holland’s Spiderman being the most recent version of the spidey. As this take on the hero is based in Marvel’s cinematic universe via a deal between the two conglomerates, Sony has battled for years over what universe the Scarlett Spider deserves to reside in.

While they have waged on in pursuit of bringing the wallcrawler to their world, many of the characters that fall within the realm of the hero have found themselves in Sony’s project arsenal, with Venom being the first of Spidey’s villains to see itself in a title role.

With 2018’s Venom giving a nod in a post credits scene to the next foe for the anti-hero to face, we come full circle to the present with the sequel Venom: Let there be Carnage where, you guessed it, Venom fights another symbiote.

Opening to a flashback scene of the deranged killer Cletus Kasady and his unrequited love Shriek, a girl with an extreme set of pipes, we see the two separated, with Cletus believing her to be dead following a shooting by a police officer due to an attempted escape by Shriek.

As she is later locked away in an institute, hidden from her lost love, the story shifts to its lead duo: Eddie Brock and Venom, who seem to be a “couple” having strong relationship issues.

Eddie’s journalistic work life leads him to the cell of Kasady where the occasional homicidal backstory and string of insults upon Eddie’s state of life leads the deranged killer into the possession of his own symbiote, Carnage.

As the bond between Eddie and Venom begins to worsen, with them having a separation similar to that of any rom-com, the fusion of Carnage and Cletus brings, as expected, carnage upon whatever lies in their way.

As characters old and new come back into the frame, with Eddie’s ex Anne and her fiancé playing an even larger role in this sequel than the previous movie, along with Cletus’s freeing of his lover shriek, Venom and Eddie must find a way to conquer their differences in order to help their loved ones from being killed by a deranged serial killer, who is aided by a crimson parasite and his screeching girlfriend.

A plot summary that seems hefty in its emphasis on connection, the tone of Venom as a character shifts from its buddy cop-esque elements in the first film to a love story between man and alien in the second.

Protagonists that are having relationship issues, an ex-fiancé to Eddie who is yet again in a marital position and even a serial killer who was days away from receiving the death penalty, all evoke a quality that seems misplaced in a film about alien-man hybrids that eat people.

2018’s Venom was the second time we saw Venom in the theater, second to Topher Grace’s portrayal of the symbiote in 2007’s Spiderman 3. In hopes to make Venom seem more than just the skinny kid from That 70’s Show, the casting of the burlier and bulkier Tom Hardy seemed like a good fit for the character, but 2018’s display saw that Spiderman’s villains may not be so deserving of their own stories, at least in the current industry. Although, the origin story was met with much debate, questions of the character’s future was silenced after the $850 million gross made by the movie, practically certifying a sequel.

Three years and a $110 million-dollar budget later, and the world is left with a follow up that puts shame upon a prolific Spidey + Venom villain.

Kasady isn’t fueled by more death, or the will for chaos, but is rather focused more on finding his lover. A character who canonically is meant to be one of the closest comic book depictions of a devil is now expected to be looking for a wedding ring instead of the next group of helpless citizens to murder.

Stripping him down to fulfill a focus on romance in a superhero movie about deadly aliens taking over the bodies of individuals, Venom: Let there be Carnage could never work as a genuine good film, at least with that concentration.

What disappoints me the most about these films is how with each new poor release, through at least a storytelling perspective, we must wait that much longer to see this idea be told again in a better format.

As Venom: Let there be Carnage is performing well in the box office criteria, it’s likely that we will see more of these misconstrued characters battle one another, goop and all, and the more of this we get, the more a certain image will be placed next to these figures.

An image that Venom is supposed to talk like a slurring drunk, that Eddie Brock is a distinctly strange person even before he and the symbiote meet one another, that the big bad should be another pile of sentient alien sludge, and in three years’ time, you come to forget what the last movie was even about.

Superhero movies aren’t all made to be critical hits like Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy or the conclusion to a universal event in Marvel’s Endgame, but they shouldn’t be what the Venom series hopes for.

Sony’s desire for a cash grab is clear, and they seem to be getting what they wanted based off the ticket sales as of yet, but where will that leave this character in the end? A handful of mediocre to flawed attempts at expanding a universe where Venom gets to conveniently eat people off screen to satisfy the PG-13 rating? Is that what Venom should be?

This is a character who is confined to the limitations of his rating in order to please a wider audience. Tacking on that R rating to the film is a move that everyone who previously knew Venom, who knew what the character was in reference to the webslinger, would be thrilled about.

Bummer though because that means that Sony may not make as much money, so its likely that an R rated Venom movie remains far off in the future.

Venom: Let there be Carnage dives further into what made the first Venom movie unique, both in its chiefly week components, but with the occasional dialogue beat between the two central characters that may force a laugh out of the characteristic movie goer.

The addition of Carnage adds a tier of unsettling emotion to the film, which is wanted from the character, but is noticeably burned away by its other half, a heart throbbed Cletus Kasady.

A sequel that continues to etch away at the reputation of Venom in the modern media stream, Venom 2 improves upon the first movie, but not enough to pull the anti-hero into a respectable light.

If the third Venom does end up coming out, which is probable as long as Sony has the chance to make a profit, hopefully the company looks away from its checking balance towards a different rating, with an R title that could have made Carnage more chaotic than composed. More Corrupt than Calm. More Cruel than Contained.

There aren’t enough C words that could express the flaws of this movie.