Venom: Let There be Carnage is making a killing at the box office. But is it enough to keep Sony’s Spider-Man universe alive? Hollywoodreporter.com has “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” bringing in over $90 million through their domestic opening weekend. Making it the biggest theatrical debut earnings since March 2020, following countrywide shutdown of theaters in an attempt to stay the pandemic curve. It comes as no surprise to my wife & I, as we attended showings of both this & the original 2018 Venom movie during their respective opening weekends! But, can the Sony/Columbia Pictures momentum keep going or will they get lost in the struggle for creative control with Marvel/Disney Studios after this latest film? The following is my non-spoiler reaction & personal speculation on the matter.
Here’s a quick synopsis of the movie. Eddie Brock & Venom are at odds. As the symbiotic pair work through their issues, a convicted serial killer, Cletus Kassidy, gets a hold of his own symbiote By say of Carnage! The new team up seems to be far more conducive as they bring chaos, mayhem & yes, carnage to an unsuspecting city. Can Brock & Venom hold it together long enough to stop the devilish duo or will their latest adversary prove too great?[Carnage.jpg] Credit: Sony Pictures Alt text: Carnage attacking Venom in a church
Full disclosure: I am a HUGE Tom Hardy fan (eluding to another elusive top 3 list)! So, in light of my bias, I want to start where I feel the film lacked. If you haven’t had the chance yet, you can see in a previous article, “Bloodlust: An Obsession With Violence,” how I had established the character, Carnage, as an ultimate evil type in the comic books due to his history of violence for violence’s sake. Yes, his tragic origin rivals that of any other & his upbringing was among the most unsavory. But, as he got older, there was never an attempt in the books to establish any redeeming qualities of the Marvel super villain at all. In my opinion, this is a necessary contrast to drive heroes to break character & take measures that are otherwise foreign to them in their battles with such an enemy. So, in showing up to the theater, I was actually expecting to see a performance closer to Heath Ledger’s Joker than anything else.
Unfortunately, we aren’t really given an “ultimate evil” in the film. Instead, we see two (or more) anti heroes that all fight for their own versions of justice. Tom Hardy's Eddie Brock is still struggling with keeping the Venom symbiote in check with the “no eating people'' rule. All the while Woody Harrelson’s team up of Cletus Kassidy & newly spawned symbiote, Carnage, barely take any qualms with killing in the name of vengeance.
Adding to the murky antihero soup, we learn more about the driving factors behind Kassidy’s rampage & eventually see him struggle to control the blood thirsty alien, somewhat scoring sympathy points along the way. On the other side of the coin, our protagonists are an equally insatiable, head hunting alien piloted by a journalist who doesn’t quite have the same stomach for murder. Just as my argument from my earlier article, the only real distinction between sides is how they choose who lives or dies & why. The film also plays around with the extent of a PG-13 rating when it comes to violence & “language!” (Here’s looking at you Cap) So, if you take issue with the types of movie quotes that your kids come home with, I’d test the waters before bringing them along.
Despite its plot holes, ridiculously dark & blurry fight sequences reminiscent of the first movie, we really did enjoy the action packed popcorn flick! Though I don’t think we will be going back to theaters to see it again, as we did with the first (we went 3 times!), it had its moments. With laughs, twists & a number of cliffhangers we’ve all come to expect from a superhero movie, I remain hopeful that they will eventually nail down where they want to take this franchise.
If they make it through this outing & the ongoing battle for control with Marvel/Disney Studios over some of the biggest names on their roster, I would encourage Sony to flesh out what makes Venom tick. Besides eating, what drives him? What inspired his fixation with being a “protector?” What are Venom's overall goals? For that matter, what are Eddie’s?
Eddie Brock & the symbiote, Venom, have won the hearts of audiences & readers from across the world! Let’s see this creative team explore why! The success of 2018’s Venom was what originally brought new life into an otherwise dwindling franchise & led to a slew of other projects based on Spider-Man’s rogue gallery just waiting in the wings. I feel their best bet is to hone in on what got them this far & see where the characters will take them from there. I’m especially looking forward to what comes of the after credit teasers. Are you?
Mahalo for reading!
Check out Kk's previous article, "Bloodlust: An Obsession with Violence".