Venom: Let There Be Carnage has just delivered the biggest weekend box office of the COVID era, and it more than met the expectations of the fanbase… or at least me. I don’t want to speak for the rest of you but, like, what more could you have wanted? Venom danced with glow sticks! It was great! So I guess it’s time to do the thing where I talk about all the spoilers I didn’t cover in the review, including an end credit scene that promises a future crossover that … fills me with apprehension.
First, though, eagle-eyed fans may have noticed that I mentioned a police officer named Patrick Mulligan in the review, played by Stephen Graham. In the comics, Mulligan ends up bonding with a symbiote called Toxin, an offspring of Carnage, and he goes on to become an ally of sorts with Spider-Man. While that doesn’t exactly happen in this movie, it’s clear that something is being set up for his character. In the climactic battle, Frances a.k.a. Shriek (Naomie Harris) seems to kill Mulligan by dangling him off a cathedral by his neck (they have history together). As a viewer, I wrote him off because there was no way he was coming back from that, right? So you can imagine my surprise when the camera cuts back to him in the aftermath of the battle… and he opens his eyes. Which are now glowing blue.
I’m not entirely sure what to make of it, for two reasons. The blue eye thing isn’t a character trait of Toxin as far as I can recall, and since Shriek didn’t have a symbiote during their fight it’s impossible that he could have picked it up from her. I suppose a bit of Carnage could have rubbed off on him during the wedding scene, but then I’d have thought he would have demonstrated those powers during the fight. Instead, could Shriek’s powers have transferred or changed him in some way? Anything is possible on that front, since Let There Be Carnage never really explained
that she is a mutant why Frances could do what she could do. Basically, the takeaway here is that Mulligan is becoming something, and we’ll surely see him again in a future installment.
Speaking of the future: At the end of Let There Be Carnage, Eddie decides to give up his normal life and instead takes Venom on the run to escape the authorities and start anew. They wind up on a beach somewhere south of the border, which is where the end credit scene picks up. In it, Eddie is lounging on a hotel bed watching a telenovela and having a philosophical chat with Venom in his mind. Venom points out that they all have pasts, and that there’s a whole universe’s worth of experiences Venom has had in his life that Eddie knows nothing about. So he decides to offer him just a taste … and that’s when the lights start to flicker and the scene around them morphs into a much nicer hotel room. Venom is just as shocked as Eddie, and it’s clear this wasn’t his doing. And that’s when they hear J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons) on the TV, announcing that Peter Parker has been revealed as Spider-Man.
Which piques Venom’s interest, apparently, because he goes over and licks Peter’s face on the screen.
The likely explanation is that the transformation they experienced is whatever reality-altering spell we know Peter is going to cajole Doctor Strange into casting in the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home. Of course, it could instead sync up with the unleashing of the multiverse in Loki, or maybe it all happens at the same time. The point is, Venom now has a hunger for Spider-Man and that almost certainly means their paths will cross sometime soon. The question is: When? And also: Why am I so annoyed by this?
The scene hints strongly that perhaps we might be seeing Venom pop up later this year in Spider-Man: No Way Home, which we already know will be pulling villains from across the various iterations of the franchise’s history. However, maybe that’s a misdirect and this scene is purely putting Parker on Venom’s radar. Instead, perhaps the plan is for Spider-Man to pop up in the all-but-certain Venom 3. Either way, though, it marks the end of Venom’s run as an isolated offshoot of Sony’s Marvel hustle, and that’s a little sad. Part of what has made the Venom movies work is that they constantly flouted the expectations of a comic book movie to instead deliver an unlikely buddy comedy and even more unlikely rom-com between a man and his alien goo. They have their own tone, bickering mixed with brain-eating, and I can easily see that being lost in the effort to fit Venom into the established cinematic world of Spider-Man. Alternately, I can’t see Spider-Man taking a backseat in a Venom joint the way Carnage just did, if only because he’s THE toy in the big Sony/MCU sandbox.
So what’s the solution? Hear me out: Use Venom’s obsession with Spidey to set up an other-man dynamic where Venom’s eye is starting to wander and Eddie needs to win him back. In fact … use that as the launchpad to introduce the comics origin of Venom. The end credit scene makes it seem like Venom recognizes Peter Parker, so use that to set up the “Secret Wars” comics arc as an alternate reality in Venom’s past where he was, in fact, a new suit for Peter! And more importantly, now Eddie has to deal with the jealousy of discovering that his life partner still has feelings for somebody else.
If this crossover is inevitable — and let’s be honest, it always was — then at least don’t let it squander all the good work the Venom movies have done. Listen to the box office, Sony. Weirdness sells!