People wanted Venom on the big screen for years. For decades. Pretty much from the moment that gooey alien symbiote crashlanded from the stars and corrupted our poor, pure spider-boi Peter Parker in 1988, comic fans wondered what that slimy, monstrous anti-hero would look like in live-action. We’re talking R-ratings. We’re talking gore and guts. And in 2018 that moment arrived, and that trailer dropped, and Venom (Tom Hardy) dead-ass looked a man in the face and said “rolling down the street like a turd in the wind” and it was the funniest goddamn thing to ever happen.
I immediately defended the line, partly because I thrive in the trash, but mostly because it was a genuinely good sign for the movie. Venom is a violent, adult character, his comics are rated B for Big Boys, but Venom is not Serious Business. He’s a product of the ultra X-Treme 90s that gave every character a flaming machine gun with saw-blades on the sides and used novelty bendy straws as reference for the female anatomy. If you had to nail down a specific “tone” for Venom, I think it’d look and sound a lot like a stand-up X-Men arcade game with Surge poured on its circuits; the fact that Sony used “turd in the wind” as THE trailer line suggested that the correct chord had been struck.
The full film is exactly like that but by accident. There’s a lot of clear hands pulling Ruben Fleischer‘s Venom in several different directions, and the result is an objectively messy, endlessly entertaining slop pile that I will watch for the rest of my days. Tom Hardy decided to star in a coked-up, frighteningly sweaty one-man show without telling anyone else in the cast, his every interaction with his alter-ego symbiote is three to four notches more sexually charged than they need to be, and Oscar-winner Michelle Williams is just hanging on for dear life. I cannot stress enough how much these are all compliments. Ever since its debut, my biggest fear about the upcoming sequel directed by Andy Serkis is what happens when Sony tries to recreate this magical mix of mediocrity on purpose.
Anyway, this has been a long-winded way to say that the sequel’s title is officially Venom: Let There Be Carnage and I’ve never felt more soothed in my life.
Let There Be Carnage. Let There Be Carnage! That’s absurd. That’s wonderful. That is a title that should be plastered on the side of an energy drink so strong it makes you see visions. If the title Venom: Let there Be Carnage had a sound it’d be indistinguishable from a Korn show played inside an abandoned Blockbuster. If you translate it into any other language than English it’s just exclamation points. What I’m saying is, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the most beautifully stupid title for the ideal, beautifully stupid Venom sequel I see inside my head.
Yes, it’s impossible to discern a film’s quality based on title alone, just like it’s impossible to discern a film’s quality based on one of its characters saying “turd in the wind” in the trailer. But in Hollywood, image + perception is everything, and for the longest time we had no idea what the hell a Venom sequel could even conceivably feel like. Do they backtrack and try to recreate the Super Badass Venom movie everyone was kind of expecting the first time? Does the studio take stock of all the first film’s quirks and make the fatal mistake of trying to make a cult classic on purpose?
Venom: Let There Be Carnage doesn’t prove anything, but what it suggests is that Sony, at the very least, knows the kind of property it has on its hands. Who knows what the future holds for the studio’s non-Spider-Man-but-kind-of-Spider-Man universe that also includes the upcoming Morbius? For now, it at least appears Sony has decided on the right track and can roll right along, like…something. There’s gotta be a metaphor there.