Venom: Let There Be Carnage is the sequel to the 2018 film Venom. This sequel’s synopsis may say it’s about the new symbiote Carnage, but this movie is really about love. It’s about the love between two insane killers, and the love between an alien symbiote and a human man. And I think that’s beautiful. Spoilers ahead for Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
Eddie and Venom’s relationship is the heart of this movie. They begin as roommates who have been living together for too long. Like an old married couple, they’ve grown annoyed with each other and are constantly bickering. It even gets abusive. They fight physically at one point, trying to hurt each other in ways they know the other would suffer from most. Venom wrecks Eddie's apartment and leaves. At first, the two couldn’t be happier to be apart. Yet, they’ve grown codependent. Venom, particularly, misses Eddie (he is a symbiote who needs a host, after all). But first, they must find who they are as individuals. Eddie returns to investigating on his own, and Venom finds his “people” (more on that later).
When the circumstances require it, they get back together after Eddie apologizes to Venom. The two are at their best when they’re together — something they can both finally acknowledge by the end of the movie. One of the best moments is when Anne remarks that Cletus and Carnage are not a match. But Venom and Eddie realize that they are.
After saving the day, the pair retire to a beach where Venom confesses love to Eddie. The two then watch the sunset together in one of the most romantic scenes I’ve ever seen in a superhero film.
A quick round of applause for Tom Hardy for portraying such a good love story all by himself. He continues to be amazing in these two roles. Like the first film, the majority of this movie is just Tom Hardy talking to himself, looking nervous, and acting unhinged, which is always entertaining to watch. His physicality made me buy that he was constantly grappling for control of his own body with another being. Hardy’s voice work is also dynamic; most of the time you can’t quite tell that Venom has the same voice.
Venom’s “coming out” scene is very well done if you watch it as a metaphor for the queer experience. Venom gets some serious character development here. He’s finally separated from Eddie. He’s finally being himself, surrounding himself with people who are as open about their identities as he is. And they’re all happy being themselves, no matter how “weird” they are — something Venom’s always struggled with because he was a “loser” on his home planet.
Venom tells the rave goers about how Eddie hid him away because he was ashamed. And the rave goers listen intently with sympathy because they understand his struggle. Venom’s struggle very much parallels any queer person’s experience being with someone who is still in the closet, struggling with their own sexuality, and/or presenting as straight. If read as a metaphor for the LGBT+ experience, Venom was gay and ready to be out and proud, but his partner was not and kept him hidden. That ate away at Venom until the relationship became toxic for him because he couldn’t truly be himself. So, he had to leave the relationship.
Now, that’s a very deep and seemingly unrelated experience to layer in with Venom’s speech — which is truly about a man-eating alien symbiote whose host is trying to control him so they don’t get locked up or killed — but the metaphor works. It’s especially effective because he’s at a rave with members of the LGBT+ community who love him. One of the best things about this scene is the immediate support the audience gives Venom after he laments the way he’s been hidden away, but now he’s free — physically free, and free to be his true self. That’s what’s great about the LGBT+ community (and is true for all minority communities of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.): we lift each other up. We support each other through difficulties because no one else understands our unique experiences and struggles the way we do for each other.
But then, once Venom’s off the stage, he’s alone again. Despite having the community’s support, he wants the support of his family most. That feeling of isolation, of wishing for your loved ones’ acceptance, is very true to the queer experience. Venom perfectly encapsulates this when, as his host’s body begins to die, he says, “Eddie, I wish you could have seen me.” It’s pretty heartbreaking because that’s all Venom wants — to be seen and accepted for who he is. If that’s not accurate to the queer experience, I don’t know what is.
Cletus and Francis (aka Shriek) are another important couples in this movie. Woody Harrelson and Naomie Harris give superb performances as completely insane killers in love. Despite the fact that they hadn’t seen each other for decades, they somehow made their love seem natural (for two crazy killers). It’s a shame they both die at the end of this film. Their characters might have had so much potential in the future. Although, their deaths did make sense within the narrative. And Cletus’s death scene was particularly satisfying given what a terrible person he was and how much Venom had been waiting for a head to bite off.
My main critique of this film is the way Anne, Eddie’s ex-girlfriend, is used. Although director Andy Serkis himself has acknowledged Eddie and Venom’s relationship as the main “love affair,” a large part of this movie is about how much Eddie and Venom are both still in love with Anne. Anne even gets kidnapped by Shriek and Cletus following the classic trope of using the girlfriend as bait. I almost thought she was going to get fridged, Gwen Stacy style. If Eddie and Venom are truly the “main love affair,” then why spend so much time focusing on Anne and how much she means to Eddie/Venom? The film continues to leave the door open on their romance, just like the last one. The least the film could have done was either A. avoid using Anne as a plot device (and give Michelle Williams more to do) or B. make Dr. Dan or Mrs. Chen the “bait” instead. We don’t need an Eddie/Anne romance. We have enough straight white romances between the superhero and the girlfriend. We want Eddie and Venom!
Now, we must address the post credit scene. It absolutely blew my mind. Somehow Eddie and Venom are now in the MCU. They are now in the same world as Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. How did this happen? This could be thanks to Sylvie killing Kang at the end of the Loki series, leading to infinite branches of the timeline. Or it could be from whatever multiverse-shattering events are going to occur on the finale of the What If? series. Or it could be caused by Dr. Strange messing up the spell in the trailer for the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home. Whatever the case, I’m excited for the future of Venom!
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is in theaters now.