Spoilers for Venom follow below.
When Sony Pictures finally got around to making a Venom movie, they had to do so without the character’s primary foil, Spider-Man. Indeed, Tom Holland’s Peter Parker is currently being used in collaboration with Marvel Studios, in MCU movies as well as standalone, Sony-distributed Spider-Man movies, but Marvel Studios had no involvement with Venom, thus Holland’s Peter Parker could not appear and “cross the streams” so to speak. So without Spider-Man, one may have assumed Sony would then at least bring Venom’s main antagonist Carnage—a supervillain symbiote who bonds with a serial killer host—into the mix for this movie. One would be incorrect.
Instead, the main antagonist of Venom is Dr. Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), who obtains three symbiotes from outer space and who spends most of the movie trying to track down and capture Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), who has bonded with the symbiote Venom. Drake eventually gets a symbiote of his own and becomes the comics character Riot, and the mid-credits scene of the film introduces Woody Harrelson as fan-favorite Kletus Casaday aka Carnage, but some fans may be wondering why Sony didn’t just use Carnage as the main villain for the movie in the first place.
When Collider’s Steve Weintraub spoke with director Ruben Fleischer about the film, he asked this very question—why was Carnage saved for a post-credits scene?
“We felt strongly that the first movie needed a place to build to, and that by … Carnage is the character I think fans, and everyone wants to see the most, in the Venom world, but we didn’t want to spoil it on the first movie. The first movie is all about Eddie and Venom, and their relationship, and establishing the character. Then from there, it felt like we wanted to give them a place to go. So, choosing their most formidable adversary felt like a great, natural sequel.”
This makes a lot of sense. While Venom is a popular character, this first film still has to do the work of introducing not just Venom but also Eddie Brock to audiences at large who may be unfamiliar with the material. That takes time, so oftentimes when it comes to “origin story” movies, it’s best to make the antagonist and his or her goals a bit more simple, so the protagonist can take the lion’s share of the screentime needed to make the audience invested in his or her story.
But now that Eddie Brock and Venom’s relationship is established, and with Harrelson popping up in a cameo in the mid-credits scene, you can bet Carnage will be a major part of Venom 2. And yes, given the record box office opening weekend, Venom 2 is almost definitely happening.
For more on Venom, click here for the Spider-Man Easter eggs you may have missed.