When Venom was being developed, and even as we were heading towards its release, there was a lot of curiosity from fans to find out if the film would be Rated R. The titular character is a mean ol’ baddie with a penchant for biting off heads and generally creating destruction everywhere he goes. Much to some fans’ surprise, Sony Pictures ultimately ended up releasing a PG-13 Venom movie. That didn’t really seem to have much of an impact on overall fan reaction, and box office-wise Sony made the right call—the film soared to the biggest October opening weekend of all time. But with a mid-credits scene teasing the villain Carnage for Venom 2—a character whose human host is a vicious serial killer—the question becomes whether the rating will shift to R for the sequel.
Collider’s Steve Weintraub posed this question to producer Avi Arad, who explained that while the instinct may be to assume Carnage has to be an R-rated character, he doesn’t see why they can’t stick with PG-13:
“When you hear Carnage, the only thing you can think of is R. But, if you know his story, if you really know the comic, there’s no R here. He’s a tortured soul. It’s not about what he does, because we never have to show the knife going from here to there, and the blood is pouring. What you have to show is, what is the motivation? Was he born like that, or [is he] someone we should feel for, because if you succeeding in making a villain someone you can feel for, jackpot.”
What Arad is basically saying here is when Carnage does grace the big screen, we won’t really be seeing any graphic violence from the character because, in his eyes, it’s not as important as making the villain someone you can invest in emotionally. They certainly got away with it in Venom, where the titular character technically bites heads off, but keen editing doesn’t really show the act rather than suggest it.
Again, fans responded positively to Venom at the box office, so that likely tells Sony they don’t have to make this franchise R-rated. As long as folks are showing up for the PG-13 iteration, they’ll likely stick with that rating. These movies are expensive to make, and PG-13 gives you a much higher ceiling in terms of box office.
So yes, when Venom 2 rolls around, don’t expect this franchise to shift into R-rated territory just because Carnage is coming to the stage.