It’s been a while since we ventured outside the MCU canon and it has certainly been a long time since the last Venom movie recap. The Sony-verse is alive and well, with Morbius and Kraven the Hunter on the way, and this Venom sequel proves that we shouldn’t count Sony out even though they apparently don’t have sole rights to any outright heroes. If there’s one thing movie studios have decided, it’s that they will make movies out of every comic book character until those films stop paying the bills.
The movie opens with Frances Barrison, who is being taken from an orphanage to the Ravencroft Institute, which apparently follows the Arkham Asylum strategy for mental health and turns people into supervillains. On the way to Ravencroft, officer Patrick Mulligan shoots Barrison when she attempts to use her sonic scream to escape. He believes he has killed her, but she is taken to Ravencroft for experimentation. In the present, Barrison’s childhood boyfriend Cletus Kasady is a serial killer in custody who speaks to reporter Eddie Brock. Venom identifies clues in Kasady’s drawings to help Eddie uncover the location of Kasady’s victims, boost Eddie’s career, and ensure Kasady’s execution. Kasady is furious with Brock, feeling the reporter betrayed him, and in another visit he goads Eddie into attacking him. When Eddie gets close and Kasady bites him, he gets a little taste of Venom. Kasady’s execution goes sideways when he merges with the red symbiote Carnage and the two escape.
Carnage and Kasady free Barrison from Ravenloft, and obviously the only thing that can defeat a symbiote is another symbiote. The problem is that Eddie and Venom went through a bit of a breakup. Eddie contacts Anne, his ex who is engaged to another man, and together they are able to track down Venom. Eddie and Venom make up, merge again, and set off to find Carnage and Shriek (that’s Barrsion, because of the scream powers). The climactic battle takes place in a cathedral, where Kasady and Shriek plan to get married. They have taken Mulligan hostage and plan to kill him, but Venom and Anne arrive to stop them. Venom tricks Shriek into using her sonic scream against him, and the sound waves separate both symbiote from their hosts and cause the cathedral to collapse. Shriek is killed by a falling bell, Carnage is consumed by Venom, and Kasady muses that he just wanted to be Eddie’s friend, right before Venom eats his head.
In the post credits scene, Venom and Eddie are on vacation while Venom describes the truth about other universes, just as they are transported in a flashing light and hear J. Jonah Jameson reveal that Spider-Man’s true identity is Peter Parker.
Look, not every movie is going to be an Avengers: Endgame or a Spider-Man: No Way Home. They can’t all be genre-defining, heart-rending, masterpieces that make you laugh and cry. Some comic book movies just want to show you a good time. You get some laughs, you see some cool effects, and Woody Harrelson creeps you out. Everybody wins.
Without The Amazing Spider-Man to serve as a tentpole, the Sony-verse was left to scramble, but for the moment it seems to have landed on a winner with Venom. Everybody loves an anti-hero, and an alien symbiote compelled to eat humans is about as anti as your hero can get. Carnage is irredeemably bad enough that we don’t have to worry about whether Venom is actually a good guy, and the movie packs a lot of action in an hour and a half, with a few laughs sprinkled in. I was skeptical that Sony would be able to keep its comic book universe alive, but judging from the creepy Morbius trailer it looks like all Sony needs is a continuing partnership with the MCU plus the rights to any side characters from the Spider-Man cartoon and obscure SNES games.
Let There Be Carnage leans into the almost rom-com dynamic between Eddie and Venom, including a dramatic break up and lighthearted reunion, all without taking away from the action. It’s a movie that knows exactly what it is and delivers a solid hour and a half of entertainment. After all, not every comic book movie needs to be three hours long.