Venom director Ruben Fleischer has explained just why he saved Carnage for a sequel. The post-credits scene introduced viewers to Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady, the serial killer who becomes the most dangerous symbiote villain in Marvel Comics.
In 1992, David Michelinie, Erik Larsen and Mark Bagley created the character of Carnage. Envisioned as a darker version of Venom, Carnage was created when a symbiote bonded with a convicted serial killer, a sociopath who revels in bloodshed. Carnage has become a comic book legend in his own right, a monstrous force of destruction who’s pushed every hero to the brink of madness.
The post-credits scene for Venom revealed that Woody Harrelson is playing the part of Cletus Kasady, a serial killer who’s under arrest in San Quentin prison. He’s visited by journalist Eddie Brock, having asked Brock for the chance to tell his story, but really all Kasady wants to do is issue a threat; when he breaks out – and, Kasady swears, he will do so – he’s coming for Brock. It was a promising introduction to the character, and in an interview with IGN director Ruben Fleischer has explained why he took this approach.
“We’d like to think that this movie will expand to other movies and Carnage is, I think, the most beloved of the Venom adversaries, with the exception of probably Spider-Man. And so we definitely didn’t want to include Carnage in this first movie because it felt like we wanted to establish Eddie and Venom and so that’s why we worked having Riot as our main adversary. But the intention or the ambition was to show that there are legs for the franchise in that a fan favorite let alone played by Woody Harrelson would be something we could look forward to in the future.”
Fleischer has a point; the narrative in Venom is pretty economical, with a tightly-focused story that serves to introduce viewers to the idea of Venom and the alien symbiotes. As a result, Venom is essentially a standalone film, and that post-credits scene is really the only explicit piece of setup in the entire movie. That’s quite a remarkable approach to take, given this film is expected to launch an entire Spider-villains franchise.
Fleischer admitted that he doesn’t really know how Carnage will come to exist in the films just yet. As he pointed out, “In the comics, he’s a spawn of Venom’s and basically he and Eddie in the comics are cell mates.” Sony wanted to set Venom up as an antihero rather than an outright villain, and so didn’t want him to wind up in jail at the end of the film. “That would’ve been a bit of a bummer,” Fleischer observed. Instead, he had the idea of shooting a scene in which journalist Eddie Brock visits the prison and talks to Kasady. That sets up a fascinating new dynamic, in which Kasady is obsessed with Brock even before he’s exposed to a symbiote. It will be fascinating to see how this develops.
Notice how careful Fleischer is with his comments, though. He doesn’t actually confirm that Carnage will appear in Venom 2. Back in 2014, leaked Sony emailsrevealed that the studio was considering a Maximum Carnage event movie as the culmination of their Spider-villain universe. That idea may still be on the cards, and Carnage could be a far more important foe than simply the key sequel villain.