Sony’s Venom arrived in theaters this weekend and isn’t exactly forming a symbiotic relationship with critics just yet. For example, own Perri Nemiroff called it “a true turd in the wind.” Yet, like an armless, legless, headless mugger caught in a San Francisco breeze this superhero story just keeps on rolling; in the grand Marvel tradition, Venom includes a post-credits scene that not only sets up a possible sequel for Tom Hardy‘s Eddie Brock and his gooey alien bro, but also teases the arrival of one of comic book history’s most iconic villains. And goodness, does he have spectacular hair.
But first, a quick recap of what brought us there: Eddie Brock and the Venom Symbiote thwarted the combined duo of Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) and the Symbiote Riot, who were attempting to blast off back to Venom’s home planet, hoping to return with a full-fledged invasion. At this point, Venom—filled with delicious human heads and bonded with genuinely good person Eddie Brock—realized Earth was actually a pretty chill place for a low-level outcast extraterrestrial like him. Venom sacrificed himself to protect his human host from Drake’s exploding rocket ship, sending Eddie safely into the San Francisco Bay.
The closing moments reveal that Venom survived the blast and is once again bonded with Eddie. Life is good for Eddie; he’s back on the investigative journalist beat, telling his estranged fiance Anne Weying (Michelle Williams) he lined up “the interview of a lifetime.” After vowing to win Anne back, Eddie and Venom stroll off into the sunset together, best buds protecting local grocery stores and doing their best not to eat the flesh of anyone who doesn’t deserve it.
Cut to the after-credits as Eddie arrives for that interview…at San Quentin State Prison. Eddie is led past multiple layers of security, down row after row of cells, and finally into a Hannibal Lecter-esque holding cell occupied by a single person: Woody Harrelson, wearing a truly phenomenal red wig. We don’t get a name, but Harrelson’s character makes it pretty clear—with what he says and the message in blood that’s written on the cell wall—that he’s a serial killer.
“When I get out of here, and I will…” Harrelson says, “there will be carnage.”
This line hits a lot harder once you realize Harrelson is playing Cletus Kasady, one of the worst killers ever to grace the pages of a Marvel book. Kasady, created by writer David Michelinie and artist Erik Larsen in 1991, is a dark dude. The character pushed his own grandmother down a flight of stairs as a kid, the first of many, many murders that landed the ginger-haired menace in a jail cell for life.
What Kasady is best known for, though, is serving as the human host for the Symbiote known as Carnage. In the comics, Carnage is an offspring of Venom, birthed in the middle of a prison riot. (The 90’s were a really weird time for comic books.) At the time, Eddie Brock was actually sharing a cell with Cletus Kasady, who found himself merged with Carnage in the middle of the melee.
Together, Kasady and Carnage piled up one of the highest body counts in Marvel’s history, eventually going after the likes of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four. But ultimately, Carnage is Venom’s ultimate foil, the Joker to his occasionally murderous Batman. (Appropriate, given Larsen based Kasady’s look on the Clown Prince of Crime.) Like all good archenemies, Carnage is the twisted mirror version of Venom, a killing machine unburdened by Eddie Brock’s sliver of humanity.
If Venom gets a sequel—and that’s an “if” the size of the Symbiote’s tongue—it’s pretty much a guarantee that Cletus Kasady will get out of that jail cell. And when he does, well…you heard the guy.
For more on Venom, check out the links below:
- ‘Venom’ Review: A True Turd in the Wind
- ‘Venom’s Long Road to the Big Screen, Explained
- Tom Hardy on the Jekyll and Hyde Dynamic Between Eddie Brock and the ‘Venom’ Symbiote
- Tom Hardy Says 30 to 40 Minutes of “Mad Puppeteering” Were Cut from ‘Venom’