Anti-superhero movie Venom has stormed the box office, nabbing more than $200 million already against a $100m budget.
The movie is the debut outing for the parasitical anti-Spider-Man, an extraterrestrial symbiote who fuses with Tom Hardy's journalist character Eddie Brock. And, as per the usual Marvel formula, there's a post-credits scene that leaves us hanging for the inevitable sequel. Here's what we know...
WARNING: VENOM SPOILERS AHEAD!
What happens at the end of the movie?
During Venom's climax, Brock has entered an uneasy truce with the parasite that's invaded his body (and thoughts). Together, they realise even greater threat is at play in the form of Riz Ahmed's power-mad entrepreneur Carlton Drake, who's been infected with a symbiote of his own, and is about to launch a rocket into space with the aim of bringing more of the creatures back to Earth.
Venom battles Drake, now transformed into the destructive Riot, and ultimately blows up both him and the rocket, saving the day. In the process, Venom appears to leave Eddie's body, paving the way for a reconciliation of sorts with the latter's estranged girlfriend Anne (Michelle Williams).
However, when a certain rasping voice re-emerges, it turns out that Venom and Eddie are still very much joined at the genetic hip. The human host then lays out certain terms and conditions for the brain-eating symbiote, namely that they cannot rampage around causing carnage and biting people's heads off at random. And talking of the word carnage...
What happens in the credits scene?
Now reinstated as a journalist, Brock enters a San Francisco prison to conduct an interview with a particularly notorious inmate. In a Silence of the Lambs-esque scene, we're then introduced to a mad-haired (and eyed) individual (played by Woody Harrelson), who has taken to writing 'Welcome Eddie' on the inside of his cell in his own blood.
We learn his surname, Kasady, and no doubt that's the moment where comic book fans punch the air in excitement. This is the character who, in the comics, came to be known as Carnage – but for those who were left slightly baffled, here's the lowdown.
Who is Cletus Kasady?
Prior to the reveal of Riz Ahmed as Riot, there was a degree of speculation as to Carnage's involvement. Would Ahmed be playing him, or was he due to be played by a cameoing Harrelson?
It turns out the latter was true, the actor reuniting with his Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer. The actor alluded to his part in the run-up to the movie, telling Collider that he shows up in a "little fraction" of it and plays "a henchman of sorts".
The characters of Brock and Kasady have a complex, storied history in the comics, and it remains to be seen how much will be translated to the screen. Broadly speaking, after original Venom host Brock escapes from prison, he accidentally leaves behind an offspring of the original symbiote. The creature then bonds with an all-new host, resulting in something even more dangerous and psychotic, and totally devoid of morality.
However, the new symbiote doesn't just find itself any old host. It finds a psychopathic, sadistic, serial-killing maniac to crawl inside and inhabit. The killer in question is one Cletus Kasady, a character who was originally based on The Joker. As a child, Kasady killed his grandmother by pushing her down the stairs, nearly killed his mother by throwing a hairdryer into her bathtub and tortured and killed his pet dog.
In his adolescence, he pushed a girl he liked in front of a moving bus when she wouldn't go out with him and brutally slaughtered one of his teachers. Fast-forward a decade or two and, surprise, surprise, we find Kasady has grown into a fully-fledged serial killer, having murdered around a dozen people (and perhaps a dozen more). He's been safely locked away for his crimes – that is, until he transforms into Carnage.
In short, he's very bad news.
What do we know about Carnage?
Since Carnage is a spawn of Venom, it's only natural that he'd inhabit a few of his 'father's' abilities – perhaps most notably spider sense and wall-crawling. Yet, there are a few key differences between the two.
Carnage, for example, can utilise Haemokinesis (blood manipulation) as a result of the symbiote mixing with Kasady's bloodstream. This ability allows Carnage to manipulate 'blood webs' like tentacles, which he uses to ensnare prey and foe alike. It also allows him to make blood weapon constructs, such as swords, axes, hammers, mallets, daggers… just about anything really. Carnage is considered to be stronger than Venom, and with abilities like these, not to mention Kasady's innate madness, it's not hard to imagine why.
Carnage shares several of Venom's abilities, but that also means he suffers from the same weaknesses. For one, Carnage is vulnerable to high levels of heat – even though Venom exhibits more of an intolerance to getting scorched. He's also vulnerable to loud vibrations, more so than his counterpart.
In fact, Carnage is extremely vulnerable to loud vibrations, having lost many an encounter in the comics due to decibel overload. In June 1992's Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #363, for instance, the characters squared off during a rock concert in Madison Square Garden, where Venom had the upper hand.
We've already seen what impacts certain decibel levels have on both Venom and Riot, so we imagine this will play an important role in the Venom sequel.
What do we know about the Venom sequel?
Venom has already overtaken the opening weekends of the first Thor and Captain America movies, according to comicbook.com – not bad when you consider those movies were tethered to an expanding franchise with more of an in-built audience. Not to mention that Venom as a character is far darker and edgier, and a somewhat trickier proposition than the family-friendly Norse god and patriotic super-soldier.
There is already discussion around Venom 2 taking place, with director Fleischer telling IGN: "We’d like to think that this movie will expand to other movies and Carnage is, I think, the most beloved of the Venom adversaries, with the exception of probably Spider-Man."
He continues: "And so we definitely didn’t want to include Carnage in this first movie, because it felt like we wanted to establish Eddie and Venom, and so that’s why we worked having Riot as our main adversary. But the intention or the ambition was to show that there are legs for the franchise in that a fan favourite, let alone one played by Woody Harrelson, would be something we could look forward to in the future."
When will we see Venom 2?
It's way too early to call that, but keep your eyes peeled on the blog for news as it comes in. And don't forget to tweet us your Venom reactions @Cineworld.