Looking Forward to Carnage vs. Venom
The Movie I Have Longed for Since I Knew Superhero Movies Existed
There were two things in “superhero” film that I hoped to see from my first viewing of Spider-Man in theaters in 2002: a movie with Venom as the main character, and a movie with Carnage as the villain. The animated Spider-Man series of the 90s did a very good job of endearing Peter Parker and his serial allies and enemies to me in my formative years, but none stick out so clearly in my memory as Carnage and Venom. Now, while this may be because in my adolescence and indeed into adulthood I have been something of an “edgelord” I prefer to believe that my affinity for Carnage stems from the epic finale of 2000 Nintendo 64 Spider-Man game, where Spidey and Venom must throw-down with Doctor Octopus and Carnage, before culminating in an adrenaline pumping chase scene with “Monster Ock,” the terrifying combination of Doctor Octopus and the Carnage symbiote.
While 2007's Spider-Man 3 was a bit of a let-down, between not fleshing out the armless Doctor Connor's scene in Spider-Man 2 to casting Topher Grace as Venom—how could one not be a bit let down?—my tiny cinema attendee's dreams may soon be fulfilled. Sony's upcoming superhero (or perhaps anti-hero) flick Venom is set to release October 5 of this year and my heart is aflutter with ramblings that Woody Harrelson may be bringing Spider-Man's greatest villain (no, not Doc Ock or Green Goblin) to the big screen. Yes, while Woody's age may seem to preclude him from the dynamic action sequences required of a symbiote battle, the idea of Zombieland's Tallahassee taking stage as Spider-Man's Cletus Kasady is enough to invalidate any reservations. Also, we're talking about two massive super-monsters destroying entire city blocks with axe hands and stretchy arms; there's no way this movie's action sequences won't be almost entirely CGI.
Prior to the announcement of Sony's Venom movie, I was fairly confident we would never get a “Carnage” adaptation. The serial killer turned alien/human monster was often deemed in conversations with close friends, to be too grotesquely violent to ever make an appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and for the most part these friends all agreed that with the release of Spider-Man Homecoming, the associated characters would be licensed back to Marvel, and in turn, Disney. Those foolish fools! While Disney strives for a PG-13 rating for their super hero movies, the recent turn of Fox toward Deadpool's rated R antics has definitely secured the possibility of other studios branching out into R-rated territories.
But beyond this obvious door opening between Sony licensing out Spider-Man and Deadpool hitting theaters to comic book fan ecstasy, there always remained the slightest chance that whoever wound up with the rights to the Carnage character would create the ultimate sin: dumb him down. While technically a definite step up from never appearing in live-action cinema, the idea of removing Cletus Kasady's excessively foul mouth and love for brutality seems nigh unbelievable. Removing the profusely violent nature of Kasady from the Carnage character would be akin to killing off a villain shrouded in mystery unceremoniously without a moment's hesitation on his origins or purposes (did I mention I have an issue with Star Wars VIII?). Potentially, though, the middle ground of Carnage's violent nature being slightly dumbed down appears to be what we're looking at from the third trailer for Sony's Venom. Featuring a mysterious silver-colored Symbiote that I can only assume is the Sony version of Carnage, drawing out his axe arms only to destroy an office setting and then ripping off the mask like skin of the Venom Symbiote, the second Venom trailer may well be giving us a glimpse at a version of Carnage who applies most of his violent tendencies toward inanimate objects and purely digital aliens that don't bleed. If that's the case, we may well be seeing a PG-13 Carnage.
Leaning on that former note regarding the Symbiote's mysterious color, there are other options revolving around the idea that this is in fact a third Symbiote. These ideas of course range from a Batman v. Superman degree of the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend psychology to a grandiose reveal of the true villain at the very end of a movie, despite being the second or third highest billed cast member, a la Johnny Depp in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Needless to say, I plan to watch this masterpiece within the week of its initial release; with any luck I will get to see Woody Harrelson portray Cletus Kasady in a battlefield of blood and terror.