The Mystery Man in 'Venom's Mid-Credits Scene Hints at a Ruthless Sequel
Venom loves its puns. There are a ton of goofy lines that rest on not-so-subtle wordplay scattered throughout the new super-antihero movie. For example, "have a nice life" is a catchphrase. The villain runs the Life Foundation.
At the end of the saga, journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is coexisting with his symbiote pal Venom (also Tom Hardy). They are both losers who get a kick out of taking down -- aka eating -- bad guys. (They also threaten them with some creative dialogue: Enter the, uh, memorable phrase, "turd in the wind.") But in a post-credits scene, Eddie asks Venom to tone it down.
He strides into San Quentin, notebook in hand, to interview a highly guarded prisoner. When we get a glimpse at his face, it's a familiar one: Woody Harrelson, albeit in a striking red wig. "Hey, Red," Eddie says to the obviously crazed man who has written "Welcome Eddie" in his cell in blood. It's this mysterious figure's last line -- a pun -- that's the most telling. "When I get out of here -- and I will -- there's going to be carnage," he says.
That pegs Harrelson as Cletus Kasady, the serial killer that eventually becomes the symbiote villain known as, yes, Carnage.
In comics lore, Eddie and Cletus originally met when they were both in prison. When Venom was helping Eddie escape, a little part of Venom -- an "offspring," if you will -- got left behind and linked up with the maniac, thus creating the fearsome Carnage. Because putting a serial killer and a man-eating alien together certainly means that heads will roll. (If not roll, then get devoured.)
It's unclear at this point if the cinematic version of Cletus already has his symbiote friend or if he's just alluding to the chaos he can potentially create. Still, this mid-credits teaser is a clear play for a sequel, even if Venom itself has been mildly received by critics. (The very final post-credits scene is an extended sequence from the upcoming Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which is very fun, but does not explain why there is no Spidey in Venom.)
The film sets up the idea that there are plenty of other symbiotes out there -- an entire universe of them eager to use humans as snacks. When Riz Ahmed's tech bro villain Carlton Drake's rocket brings Venom to earth, it's accompanied by three other blobs of menacing goo. Two die over the course of the movie as Drake experiments on them, one becomes Venom, and the other, Riot, links up with Drake and is ultimately defeated in a fiery blast.
When Thrillist spoke to director Ruben Fleischer, we asked about the potential for a Symbiote Cinematic Universe. "My focus was just this movie and making sure I made this movie the very best that I possibly could, but we tried to lay some groundwork for potential directions the films could go in the future if we're lucky enough to make a sequel," he explained.
Harrelson is a pretty big star to be on board given the franchise's tenuous future, but it makes sense. The Three Billboards actor starred in Fleischer's debut film, the horror comedy Zombieland. So should a Carnage-focused sequel indeed be in the offing -- and Flesicher gets the chance to direct -- it would be reunion of sorts. (And, by the way, a Zombieland 2 is still in the cards.)