Venom 2, aka Venom: Let There Be Carnage, is finally coming this week! But for non-comic book fans, some might be wondering … who exactly is the very red, very scary symbiote villain in this movie?
It all started with Spider-Man’s black alien costume in the comics, which betrayed him and ended up in the hands of his bitter rival Eddie Brock – who became Venom. But it also spawned an even nastier, more deadly foe in the form of Carnage. This bloodthirsty sadist has accumulated quite a few bodies over the years, and even the Avengers have struggled to bring him to justice.
And now, the character of Woody Harrelson (also known as Cletus Kasady) is finally getting his due on the big screen. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about this symbiote psychopath …
Venom: Let There Be Carnage Easter Eggs
Venom 2 Carnage Explained: The Basics
Carnage is basically the closest thing to Spider-Man’s rogue gallery with a Joker. Most of Spidey’s enemies have tragic or redemptive qualities. Not Carnage. It is a force of nature that lives to kill, destroy and wreak havoc. And it is not particular as to the order in which it does it.
Cletus Kasady was already an accomplished criminal and sadist even before he acquired superhuman powers. But after spending some time as Eddie Brock’s cellmate and getting his own symbiote costume, he became one of the most proficient killers in the Marvel Universe. He is incredibly strong and very difficult to take down once the blood begins to flow. A mutual hatred of Carnage is about the only thing that can cause Spider-Man and Venom to put aside their differences and work towards a common goal.
Who is stronger: venom or carnage? Powers and Abilities of Carnage
Carnage is basically a meaner, stronger version of Venom. His costume is an offshoot of the Venom symbiote, and like Venom, Carnage has access to amplified versions of Spider-Man’s powers, such as increased strength, agility, and speed. Like Venom, Carnage can block Spider-Man’s Spider-Sense, even though he has access to his own enhanced senses.
However, because the Carnage symbiote was born on Earth rather than the planet Klyntar, it is stronger and more unstable. Carnage is powerful enough to fight both Spider-Man and Venom. He can reshape his symbiote tendrils into various deadly weapons and even launch them as projectiles. The symbiote also grants Kasady a Wolverine-like healing factor, allowing him to survive what appeared to be certain death on multiple occasions.
Fortunately, Carnage has some weaknesses. He’s not as sensitive to sonic weapons as Venom, but he’s still weaker than Venom in the face of fire. He’s also extremely vulnerable to the touch of Anti-Venom, a hero whose sole purpose is to hunt down and destroy the symbiote. And in Venom 2, director Andy Serkis says Carnage’s powers are somewhat different, including the ability to transform into mist!
Carnage: origin and context
Considering Venom’s growing popularity after 1988’s Amazing Spider-Man # 300, it was only a matter of time before Marvel tapped into the concept further. Carnage was the first (and by far the most popular) of several new villainous symbiotes introduced in the early ’90s, with Cletus Kasady making his first appearance as Carnage in 1992’s Amazing Spider-Man # 360 (Created by Writer David Michelinie and artists Erik Larsen and Mark Bagley) and quickly became a recurring presence in the franchise.
1993 saw a massive Spider-Man crossover called “Maximum Carnage,” arguably the biggest Marvel storyline to ever revolve around this character. It even inspired a video game of the same name (we’ll get to that later). “Maximum Carnage” forced Spider-Man and Venom to join forces with other Marvel heroes like Captain America, Black Cat, and Cloak and Dagger to fight Carnage’s alliance of evil.
Carnage remained an active player in Spider-Man comics throughout the ’90s, with several stories featuring the symbiotic bond with characters other than Cletus Kasady. This resulted in less than well-liked hybrid characters like Spider-Carnage and Cosmic Carnage. Eventually, most fans agreed that the villain had become overexposed. Even Marvel seemed to agree, and a 2004 New Avengers debut issue showed Carnage torn in two by the Sentry and left to die in Earth orbit.
But few characters remain dead forever in superhero comics, and Carnage has finally made a comeback in a 2010 miniseries titled, aptly, Carnage. This book revealed that the symbiote and Kasady had survived and tore themselves in two. Carnage and follow-up stories like Carnage USA and Superior Carnage restored the villain to his old status quo and once again made him a force to be reckoned with in the Marvel Universe. Still, that didn’t stop Carnage from briefly turning a new leaf in 2014 Avengers & X-Men: AXIS. There, a villain named Red Onslaught (part Red Skull and part Professor X) reversed the minds of many heroes and villains and made Carnage temporarily heroic.
Carnage underwent its most significant overhaul in “Go Down Swinging,” the latest chapter in writer Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man race that spanned ten years. There, the Carnage symbiote bonded with Norman Osborn to form a new villain called the Red Goblin. That alliance didn’t last, but Carnage got another boost in 2019’s Absolute Carnage, which shows the villain trying to assassinate everyone on Earth who has ever been linked to a symbiote. It’s not just Spider-Man and Venom’s problem anymore.
Carnage: Beyond the Comics
Carnage has had plenty of room to shine on the small screen. Carnage first appeared in animated form in 1994 in Spider-Man: The Animated Series (voiced by Scott Cleverdon) and served as a major antagonist in several episodes. He also played a big role in the spinoff series Spider-Man Unlimited (voiced this time by Michael Donovan).
Carnage missed his appearance in Spectacular Spider-Man in 2008, although he was scheduled to show up if the series had lasted more than two seasons. He played a recurring role in Marvel’s upcoming Spider-Man cartoon, Ultimate Spider-Man (voiced by both Dee Bradley Baker and Fred Tatasciore). This series continued the comic book trend of having Carnage’s symbiote bond with other Marvel characters, resulting in mixes like Carnage-Ock and Carnage-Hulk.
Carnage has also enjoyed a healthy career in video games dating back to the 1992 Game Boy title The Amazing Spider-Man 2. He was a major character in 1994 Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage and Its Sequel, Spider-Man and Venom: Separation Anxiety, both based on the comic book stories of the same name. Carnage has also appeared in everything from LEGO Marvel Super Heroes to Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions to Marvel Puzzle Quest. The video game adaptation of the 2014 movie Amazing Spider-Man 2 even offered a glimpse of what Carnage might have looked like in Sony’s (then) rebooted Spider-Man universe.
For years, the villain has been said to be the primary antagonist in Sony’s Venom solo movie. At one point, this movie would even have been titled Venom Carnage. However, Riz Ahmed’s character Carlton Drake ended up being the main villain – as a different symbiote villain called Riot – in the film. Woody Harrelson played a small role as Cletus Kasady in the film, setting up his transformation into Carnage for the sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, where he will star alongside Tom Hardy.
September 27, 2021: This story has been updated with the latest information from Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
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