WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
“Venom: Let There Be Carnage” isn’t like other Marvel movies.
The haphazard licensing agreements between Sony and Marvel have created a very muddled situation for Venom in terms of the character’s standing in the Marvel cinematic universe, seemingly because the companies enjoy playing copyright mad libs. Despite the franchise’s difficulties, “Let There Be Carnage” still seeks to entertain fantastically as a sequel story more so than any other superhero movie of the last decade.
Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock is not noble, rich or ripped—he’s a journalist who spends the entire movie looking like he has never met a shower or a washing machine. This character is a welcome departure from the glossiness of the Avengers that has become boring over time. The film also benefits from having a villain—serial killer Cletus Kasady played by Woody Harrleson—that is unabashedly and cartoonishly evil. There is no pretense of them believing to be striving for the greater good or any extensive trauma plotlines to sleep through with this character. As a result, much of the movie is able to focus on Eddie and Venom’s delightful dynamic as they begin to learn to live with each other.
“Let There Be Carnage” is unexpectedly incredibly romantic. Though this is not in regards to Eddie’s despair at losing his fiancée to another man or the attempted marriage between Kasady and his longtime love Frances Barrison. The marriage culminates in the Notre Dame equse church, being used as a gorgeous action set piece for the film’s climax—this being compared to, for example, the CGI wasteland of “Endgame”’s finale.
Rather, the big screen’s most perfect couple since the early 2000’s peak romantic comedies comes in the form of Eddie and his parasitic alien Venom. The film’s first action scene is a violent lovers’ quarrel between the two (the two, of course, being between Eddie and Venom’s tentacles that slap him around) ending with the two essentially breaking up and Venom leaving to seek another host body.
But once Eddie discovers that Kasady has contracted a symbiotic alien of his own—the “Carnage” in question—he realizes how much he needs Venom back. On the opposite side of the relationship, Venom spends his alone time moping, trying and failing to find a new host body, and eventually ends his night by proclaiming to a packed nightclub that he misses Eddie and he wishes he was there with him.
Harrleson is fantastic as Kasady, perfectly encapsulating the slightly greasy, but faux-charming-enough-to-get-away-with-it brand of serial killer that the American public continues to dedicate frankly far too much time and love to. Kasady, though, is not at all the star of the show, and his entire arc serves mainly to counteract the close relationship of Eddie and Venom.
Kasady and Carnage are not compatible and each have different goals which they refuse to compromise on for the one another. On the opposite end, Eddie and Venom are willing to put their differences aside when needed, whether Eddie is having to apologize to Venom to get him back or Venom is begrudgingly not eating people for Eddie’s sake.
Every good, original thing about this film, however, is on the table to be crushed by Marvel.
While Venom works fine as a standalone character, the mid credits scene (no post credits scene here in an apparent act of mercy towards movie theater employees everywhere) indicates that there is a possibility of seeing Venom in “Spiderman: No Way Home”—a movie having everything to do with Sony owning the rights for both and nothing to do with the characters themselves, clearly.
“Let There Be Carnage” has a setting that is fairly grounded compared to “No Way Home”’s promise to feature a multiverse, whatever that entails. Peter Parker is also a wide-eyed high schooler with a funny suit, while Eddie is a bitter thirty-something man whose superhero persona is someone else entirely, so the mash up seems ill-advised.
While the prospect of Marvel shoving one of their more well rounded characters off to play second fiddle in a franchise different then their own is disappointing, at the very least there will always be this wonderful exercise of Marvel’s into the romance genre.
Best wishes to the happy couple in their further adventures.
Natalie Katsaros can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.