Here's how 'Venom 2' takes the Tom Hardy franchise into the Marvel multiverse (spoilers!)

·Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
·10 min read
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) bickers with his symbiote Venom in Venom: Let There be Carnage (Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection)
Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) bickers with his symbiote Venom in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. (Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Venom: Let There Be Carnage 

Never mind Carnage — let there be... Spider-Man! That's the universe-altering reveal featured in the mid-credits sequence that closes out Venom: Let There Be Carnage, the sequel to the surprise 2018 blockbuster. Ever since the original Venom, fans have speculated when and how Tom Hardy's brain-eating symbiote might cross paths with Tom Holland's web-slinging wall-crawler. Let There Be Carnage finally sets them on that collision course, which might come as early as Dec. 17, when Spider-Man: No Way Home arrives in theaters and opens up the Marvel multiverse in a big, bad way. 

Everyone involved with Let There Be Carnage, including director Andy Serkis, has been careful to say all along that Holland didn't swing by the set in person to shoot a cameo. But Spider-Man is definitely in the movie, and makes an immediate impression on Venom. The sequel also leaves Venom's host body, Eddie Brock, in a situation that's familiar to everyone's favorite Marvel waterfowl Howard the Duck — trapped in a world he never made. 

Just like Venom, we're grinning at the thought of Hardy tangling with Spider-Man after the events of Venom: Let There be Carnage (Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection)
Just like Venom, we're grinning at the thought of Hardy tangling with Spider-Man after the events of Venom: Let There Be Carnage. (Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Here's how the Venom-verse and the Marvel Cinematic Universe collide. At the end of Let There Be Carnage — after Eddie and Venom have defeated the titular red symbiote that infected the body of serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) — the odd couple duo abandons their San Francisco stomping grounds and takes their double act on the road. As the mid-credits sequence begins, they're in a rundown hotel room somewhere south of the border engrossed in a telenovela. While commenting on the melodramatic action, Venom and Eddie get to talking about all the wild things the alien symbiote has seen in his galactic travels. "We all have a past, Eddie," Venom tells Brock. "Let me give you a taste."

Just as he's about to expand Eddie's mind, though, reality around them starts to quake. The fact that Venom is as shocked as the terrestrial human is your first clue that he's not causing this particular phenomenon. If you're one of the millions and millions of viewers who have watched the No Way Home trailer, it's fair to suspect this is the moment where Peter Parker (Holland) convinces Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) to tamper with the reality where his identity has been leaked to the public by J. Jonah Jameson. As you might recall, the final moments of Far From Home featured Spidey's journalistic nemesis finally making his MCU debut with J.K. Simmons reprising the role he originated in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy.  

Of course, this reality quake might also sync up with the Season 1 finale of the Disney+ series Loki, in which Sylvie aka Lady Loki (Sophia Di Martino) lethally prunes the "Gardener of Time" (Jonathan Majors) and plants the seeds for the Marvel multiverse. Either way, when the room stops shaking, Eddie and Venom suddenly discover that their dumpy surroundings have been transformed into a deluxe suite with an amazing beach view. 

But eagle-eyed Marvel fans aren't admiring the sunny skies and blue water: They're looking at Eddie's television, where a familiar face is spewing his usual bluster. That's right: There's Jameson trumpeting his world-shattering exclusive that Spider-Man is none other than Queens kid Peter Parker. At that point, a picture of an unmasked Peter appears onscreen and Venom goes in for a closer look. It's clear he likes what he sees: "That guy," the symbiote says with an enthusiasm bordering on lust. And just to drive that latter emotion home, Venom unleashes that long tongue and licks Peter's face on the television screen. 

Don't worry, there's one last comic beat to balance out that bit of creepiness: The suite's actual occupant — a vacationing tourist — emerges from the bathroom and freaks out at finding he's not alone. "What are you doing in my room?" he asks Eddie, who is still trying to adjust to his new surroundings. Confused and disoriented, Brock can only shrug. 

So now that Venom has laid eyes on Spider-Man, the question is... when will they meet face to face? The first No Way Home trailer already revealed that Alfred Molina's Doctor Octopus from the Tobey Maguire trilogy will invade the MCU's reality. And rumors about the return of other fan favorite villains and heroes have been flying around as well, including Jamie Foxx's Electro from Andrew Garfield's Spider-verse, not to mention Garfield and Maguire themselves. 

It's entirely possible that Venom will join the fray now that his universe has synced up with the multiverse. Heck, maybe Hardy's symbiote will even appear alongside his predecessor — Topher Grace from Spider-Man 3 — to really blow fans' brains before Venom can devour them. Not for nothing, but Grace trolled fans on Reddit recently with the "news" that he's in No Way Home alongside the new guy. "Tom Hardy and I pop out and battle each other and I win (obvi), it's like not even a fight I just kick his ass immediately," he joked. Sounds just crazy enough to be true...

Failing a No Way Home appearance, Let There Be Carnage's mid-credits stinger could also be laying the groundwork for a Venom 3 battle royale between Peter and Eddie. In a recent interview with Esquire UK, Hardy says that would be his preferred storyline for the yet-to-be-confirmed third installment. "Should both sides be willing, and it be beneficial to both sides, I don’t see why it couldn’t be," he teased. "I hope and strongly, with both hands, push, eagerly, towards that potential, and would do anything to make that happen."

Even if Hardy and Holland can't come to terms on a title bout, Let There Be Carnage continues to build out the Venom corner of Sony's Spider-Verse with additional characters and storylines taken straight from the comics and brought to the big screen. Here's a guide to some of the Easter eggs hidden amidst the carnage. 

You make me wanna shout 

Naomie Harris as Francis Barrison aka Shriek in Venom: Let There be Carnage (Photo: Jay Maidment /© Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection)
Naomie Harris as Francis Barrison aka Shriek in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. (Photo: Jay Maidment /© Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Cletus Kasady may not seem like a lovable guy, but there's a soulmate out there for everybody. In Cletus's case, that soulmate is Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris), who he meets as a young man at the Ravencroft Institute — Spider-Man's version of Gotham City's notorious Arkham Asylum. Like many of the inmates housed at Ravencroft, Frances has a secret power: She's capable of emitting eardrum-shattering shrieks, which earn her the obvious villain moniker: Shriek

The comic book version of Shriek, who makes her big-screen debut in Venom: Let There be Carnage (Photo: Marvel)
The comic book version of Shriek, who makes her big-screen debut in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. (Photo: Marvel)

Introduced into comic book continuity in 1993, Shriek and Carnage were also an item on the page, even forming a super-villain family that included "kids" like Demogoblin, Doppelganger and Carrion in the popular "Maximum Carnage" storyline. At one point, Frances was infected by her own symbiote, but it proved a poor match and she reverted back to her screaming-based powers. 

Sadly, the big-screen versions of Carnage and Shriek don't live long enough to play house together. Frances gets crushed by a church bell after the climactic fight, while Venom reabsorbs the Carnage symbiote and then bites Cletus's head off. They wanted a Red Wedding... and they got one. 

Take a Mulligan

Eddie Brock (Hardy) and Detective Mulligan (Stephen Graham) are on opposite sides of the law in Venom: Let There Be Carnage (Photo: Jay Maidment /© Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection)
Eddie Brock (Hardy) and Detective Mulligan (Stephen Graham) are on opposite sides of the law in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. (Photo: Jay Maidment /© Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection)

Carnage isn't Eddie and Venom's only antagonist in the sequel: They also have to contend with one of San Francisco's finest — Detective Mulligan (Stephen Graham). As far as Mulligan is concerned, this crusading journalist doesn't pass the smell test (maybe because Eddie's apartment has two live chickens in it), and he's eager to get to the bottom of the mystery that is Eddie Brock. That dedication to duty lands the cop directly in the middle of the climactic brawl, where he sustains a seemingly fatal injury. But it turns out you can't keep a good Mulligan down: The last time we see him, he's having his own Colonel Kurtz moment, whispering "The monsters, the monsters," as his eyes take on a bluish tinge. 

Mulligan may just become a monster himself, just like his East Coast comic book counterpart, NYPD officer Patrick Mulligan. That version of Mulligan becomes Toxin, the 1,000th symbiote created out of Venom's specific line... and extra-dangerous because of that. 

Venom: Let There Be Carnage teases the arrival of another symbiote villain, Toxin (Photo: Marvel)
Venom: Let There Be Carnage teases the arrival of another symbiote villain, Toxin. (Photo: Marvel)

Making his first appearance in 2004, Toxin initially starts off as a would-be hero — one who even works alongside Spider-Man — thanks to Mulligan's innate desire to protect and serve the public. But as the symbiote grows stronger, that commitment to heroism occasionally wavers. Mulligan continues to wrestle with the creature inside him for the rest of his life, which is eventually cut short by Mephisto's son Blackheart. Considering how Marvel fans keep expecting that demon to be the Big Bad of every story — including WandaVision to Loki — maybe the Venom-verse is where Mephisto will finally make his first appearance. 

Lethal Weapon meet "Lethal Protector"  

Venom charges into action as a
Venom charges into action as a "lethal protector" in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. (Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing / © Marvel Entertainment / Courtesy Everett Collection)

What happens when your super-villain threatens to become more popular than the superhero he was invented to fight? You make him an anti-hero, of course. That's how Marvel Comics dealt with Venom's rapid rise to fan favorite status. Originally created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane in 1988, the character really took off in the early '90s, appearing again and again in the pages of Spider-Man's various comics. Eventually, Marvel decided to give the fans what they wanted and awarded Venom his own limited series — 1993's Venom: Lethal Protector.

Written by Michelinie, the six-issue storyline finds Venom calling a truce in his battle with Spider-Man and heading out to San Francisco, where he battles five new — and even worse — versions of himself, created by the Life Foundation, the villainous corporation featured in the first Venom film. The success of Lethal Protector led to additional Venom limited and ongoing series, where he's all about protecting the innocent... lethally.

The cinematic Venom officially adopts the "lethal protector" moniker in Let There Be Carnage, with that mission statement serving as the common ground between Eddie and his symbiote. After initially insisting that he's "Venom No More" and driving his alien friend away, the two reunite in time to fight Carnage and agree that they're better together than apart. With that dispute settled, they decide to explore the world beyond the Bay Area, providing their brand of lethal protection to anyone that needs it. Unless, of course, it's Spider-Man. After all, "that guy," as Venom labels him, is too delicious-looking to not wanna eat right up. 

Venom: Let There be Carnage is currently playing in theaters.

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