As the subtitle implies, Venom: Let There Be Carnage casts a spotlight onto sociopathic serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) and Carnage, the blood-red symbiote who makes Venom seem like a little kitty cat. Joining the fray at her lover Kasady’s side is Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris), whose introductory arc in the 1992 The Amazing Spider-Man comics heavily inspires the plot of the movie.
But the Venom sequel is also littered with references to other comic-book storylines, pop culture, and, perhaps most significantly, hints at what might be ahead for the Venom-verse. (Sony’s Spider-Man spinoffs aren’t part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but Venom 2 may have changed that.) So in the style of Eddie Brock, ace reporter, Vulture tracked down every major Easter egg we could find in the movie, which opens today. Warning: spoilers ahead.
The Horrors of St. Estes
The film begins with a flashback to Cletus Kasady and Frances Barrison’s childhoods, when both are locked up inside the halls of the St. Estes Home for Unwanted Children, an orphanage for seemingly dangerous youths. In the comics, Cletus spent his childhood in St. Estes Home for Boys after he murdered his grandmother and mother, just like in the movie. The only real change here is the addition of Frances and “Home for Boys” becoming the more inclusive (and grim) “Home for Unwanted Children.”
Did someone say “Mutants”?
Frances mentions at one point in the film that her “mutation” is getting worse. It’s a loaded word to drop, since she’s referring to her super-ability to let out powerful sonic blasts (in the comics, she can also fly and manipulate people’s emotions). Does this imply that mutants are now part of Sony’s Venom continuity? Well, no. Shriek first appeared in a Spider-Man comic, meaning she falls under Sony’s Spider-Man license rather than Disney and Fox’s X-Men one. (Prior to Disney’s acquisition of Fox, the heroes Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were in a similar boat as mutants who debuted in Avengers comics, meaning both rights-holders could use them in movies.) For the purposes of Venom 2, Shriek can be a mutant but not necessarily a herald of X-Men to come.
Still, Let There Be Carnage’s post-credits scene, in which Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) and Venom glimpse Spider-Man on a TV screen, implies there’s some multiverse madness afoot. But let’s be real: The secondary villain of a sequel to a Sony-made movie is not going to be how Disney-owned Marvel Studios officially introduces some of their most popular characters to the main film continuity.
Welcome to Ravencroft
Ravencroft, which first appeared in a 1991 issue of Spectacular Spider-Man, is basically to Spider-Man what Arkham Asylum is to Batman. The Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane houses all sorts of supervillains and, in Let There Be Carnage, it’s where Shriek is bound until Cletus (and Carnage) free her. Actress Sian Webber plays the ill-fated Dr. Camille Pazzo, who was also a doctor of psychiatry at Ravencroft in the comics.
While imprisoned in her soundproof cell in the bowels of Ravencroft, Frances gets ahold of a newspaper with an article about her old flame, Kasady, on the front page. The byline is none other than Eddie Brock’s (Tom Hardy), meaning this is the story he presumably wrote after his interview with Kasady during Venom’s post-credits scene.
Eddie Brock Loves Eddie Murphy
The shirt and jacket combo that Eddie wears for most of the film is identical to Eddie Murphy’s costume from Beverly Hills Cop, just with the colors tweaked to a more Venom-y palette. What Let There Be Carnage and Beverly Hills Cop have in common is a mystery (apart from real and fictional Eddies), but it’s a fun little shoutout to a beloved film
Detective Patrick Mulligan (Stephen Graham), the cop who wants to use Eddie to help coax clues from the imprisoned Kasady about the locations of his victims’ bodies, has comic origins, too. He first appeared in 2004’s Venom vs. Carnage #1, where he was a policeman in New York City, rather than in San Francisco. Mulligan — who does not play a part in Shriek’s comics backstory the way he does in the film — is most notable for becoming the host of another symbiote, Toxin, one issue after his debut. (More on that later.)
The Daily Bugle
Throughout the movie, we see a few copies of The Daily Bugle, the fictional New York-based newspaper that employs J. Jonah Jameson, Peter Parker, and, on occasion, Eddie Brock in the comics. The Daily Bugle appeared in the first Venom as well, though there were no pictures of Spider-Man to be found. Notably, The Daily Bugle is a newspaper with printed editions. This is not the case in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — and, as we’ll get to, in Let There Be Carnage’s post-credits sequence.
Swipes at Spider-Man
When Eddie and Venom get stuck in another lovers’ quarrel at Mrs. Chen’s store, the symbiote remarks that “responsibility is for the mediocre.” Hard not to see that as a shot at Spider-Man and Uncle Ben’s famous proclamation: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Stan Lee’s Cameo
The late Stan Lee makes a cameo in this same scene, as his face appears on the cover of a comics magazine in a newsstand by Mrs. Chen’s counter. Lee, who is credited with co-creating Spider-Man alongside Steve Ditko, appeared in a small role in 2018’s Venom, which premiered a little over a month before his death.
A Spider-Killing Origin
Let There Be Carnage takes aim at Spider-Man again when Kasady writes his letter to Eddie. Just as Kasady writes “every hero has an origin story,” a spider crawls across the table. It’s a clear nod to Spider-Man’s origin story. However, rather than getting bit and gaining radioactive spider-strength, Kasady squishes the arachnid. Ouch.
The Lethal Protector
When Venom and Eddie make up, the symbiote suggests a new crime-fighting moniker: the Lethal Protector. This name comes from the six-issue 1993 miniseries of the same name, which marked the start of Venom’s transition from villain to antihero. It’s this comic, which featured Eddie as the main character for the first time, that sees him and Venom leaving Spider-Man’s New York City hometown for San Francisco. The first Venom movie was heavily based on this storyline, and there are shades of it in Let There Be Carnage, too, so it’s a nice homage (and a fitting name for Venom’s deadly form of justice).
When we last see Detective Pat Mulligan, he’s been left for dead following his fight with Frances. Suddenly, he opens his eyes and they glow unnaturally. Presumably, this is teasing a potential plot point for the as-yet-unannounced Venom 3. In the comics, as we mentioned earlier, Mulligan becomes host to yet another symbiote named Toxin, a spawn of Carnage who first appeared in 2004’s Venom vs. Carnage #2. Like Venom, Toxin is something of an antihero, but the symbiote has fallen victim to its vicious nature on several occasions.
The Post-Credits Scene
We’ve got a full breakdown of Let There Be Carnage’s post-credits scene here. But the gist is that this scene introduces Tom Holland’s Spider-Man to Venom’s canon — or perhaps more accurately, it introduces Venom to the MCU. While vacationing someplace tropical, Venom boasts to Eddie about the “light-years of knowledge” he and other symbiotes have gathered. By seeming coincidence, just as Venom is about to give Eddie a taste of that knowledge, the hotel room they are in whirls and the pair suddenly find themselves in what looks like a different version of the same hotel room watching something astounding on TV. It’s J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons, reprising his role from both the Sam Rami movies and Spider-Man: Far From Home), on the Infowars-esque version of The Daily Bugle. He’s unmasking Peter Parker as Spider-Man in what looks like reused footage from Far From Home’s post-credits scene. Should we assume that Venom and Eddie have hopped through the multiverse, likely due to the spell we saw Doctor Strange cast in the trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home? Does this mean Venom will appear in that movie, or even in the MCU proper? It’s a lot to process, but it’s certainly possible.