Sony’s hoping that the Spider-Man spinoff-ish Vehicle will form the foundation of its bluntly named “Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters.” The extended web of Spidey movies includes, in theory, a Black Cat movie, produced by Gina Prince-Bythewood; Morbius, starring Jared Leto; a Kraven the Hunter solo picture from The Equalizer 2 screenwriter Richard Wenk; a Silk spinoff; a Nightwatch movie from Spike Lee; and perhaps even a long-gestating Sinister Six script from the Amazing Spider-Man days.
But the end of Venom doesn’t reach that far, simply teasing what’s next for Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock. And to be honest, we’re here for it. After Hardy’s gonzo performance, the production’s half-hearted decision to scale back the mayhem from R to PG-13, and a tease of [spoilers in this link] another in-universe character who chewed up one major scene, a Venom sequel could double down on the good and pit Brock against a real villain. Based on the after-credits scene, everyone involved agrees.
The end of Venom keeps things relatively predictable. The movie actually gives us two after credits sequences: a tease for a theoretical, but inevitable Venom 2, and a preview for another movie in Sony’s Marvel stable. Let’s break them down, since after breaking October box-office records, a sequel will almost definitely come to fruition.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for Venom.]
Halfway through the credits of Venom, we return to San Francisco. Specifically, to San Quentin State Prison. Near the close of the movie, after blowing Riot to smithereens and theoretically ending the symbiote campaign against Earth, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) hinted to his ex-fiancee, Anne Weying (Michelle Williams), that his career as a reporter was back on track. Plus, he’d just scored the interview of a lifetime.
Now we know who that interview is with: notorious serial killer Cletus Kasady.
Kasady, filling a kind of Hannibal Lecter role in the Marvel universe, apparently requested Brock specifically, and the FBI is allowing it in the hopes that he’ll give up details about where some of his victims’ bodies are hidden. But as viewers, we get a different reveal — Venom’s best-hidden cameo appearance — when the occupant of the cage is shown to be Woody Harrelson in a red curly wig. No, it’s not setup for a Greatest American Hero reboot.
Kasaday and Brock share some standard banter before Harrelson delivers the money line of the scene:
“When I get out of here,” he drawls, “and I will ... there’s gonna be carnage.”
Harrelson’s involvement in Venom, and his availability for a sequel, was rumored for a while, and later confirmed by Harrelson himself. His role itself was widely assumed to be the supervillain Carnage, and now we know that’s true.
The Waluigi of Spider-Man
Carnage was created to be a darker version of Venom, who was already kind of a dark version of Spider-Man. Many of Polygon’s readers are video game fans, so let me put this in a language they will instantly recognize:
some people have been asking about this, hope this clears everything up pic.twitter.com/AI3TLpqwxw— Tristan Cooper (@TristanACooper) February 8, 2018
Carnage was created in 1992 by writer David Michelinie (Iron Man, The Amazing Spider-Man), whose original plan was to kill Eddie Brock and give the symbiote a new host. But Eddie-Venom was a popular pairing — too popular for Marvel to like the idea of killing him off. Michelinie had to come up with a new host and a new symbiote all together.
Enter Cletus Kasady, who bonded with an offspring of Eddie’s symbiote when it was left in his cell. Eddie might be a human disaster, but he at least had a bit of a moral compass. Kasady, on the other hand, was a completely amoral serial killer.
Artist Erik Larsen (Savage Dragon) modeled Kasady after the Joker, and, for some extra pizazz, the symbiote bonded with him through a cut, rather than his orifices. This allowed it to merge with his blood, giving the composite being known as Carnage its characteristic red color.
Fun fact: Carnage and the Joker actually met once — back when DC and Marvel Comics were still in a corporate position to do the occasional crossover — in a Spider-Man/Batman story called, what else, Spider-Man and Batman. In it, after a brief bout of teamwork, the Joker declined to work with Carnage due to his lack of style and finesse in his crimes.
But mostly, Carnage has spent his career fighting with Spider-Man and Venom, the latter of which he’ll undoubtedly do in any potential sequel to Venom.
But wait, there’s more
Theatergoers who stay through all of Venom’s credits will get an extra treat: An entirely different movie. That is, a full scene from Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, featuring Miles Morales and Peter Parker.
[Ed. note: The rest of this post contains what could be considered spoilers for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.]
It’s a scene that mixes humor — Miles slap-sticking his way across the city with an unconscious Peter Parker while trailed by police who think he’s toting a homeless person’s corpse — with sadness. And among all that, it gives us a bit of new information about Spider-Verse.
Miles Morales originated in the Ultimate Marvel Universe, a parallel Earth to the main Marvel setting, where he was inspired to take up the mantle of Spider-Man after the death of that universe’s Peter Parker. In the post-credits scene of Venom, we find out that that is true in Miles’ Into the Spider-Verse home as well.
Miles visits the grave of Peter Parker, which is festooned with a city’s worth of flowers and Spider-Man memorabilia, to tearfully admit that he can’t do what Peter asked of him before he died — he’s not strong enough to be the new Spider-Man. Of course, just then, another universe’s Peter Parker shows up behind him, one we’re already familiar with from the movie’s most recent trailer.
From there, things go poorly. We learned a ton more at this year’s New York Comic Con — you can soak up some minor spoilers from our report on the first 35 minutes of the film — but it’s unclear if Miles’ lowest lows swing back to the positive. Of course, we expect it’ll all end up with a happy ending once Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse hits theaters on Dec. 14.