This September, we've all got another date with an alien symbiote in the form of Venom: Let There Be Carnage. It's the follow-up to the 2018 Sony comic-book blockbuster Venom, which unleashed Tom Hardy as an oddball mixture of New York journalist and alien entity.
The new trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage has arrived – scroll down to discover its potential connections to the Spider-Man universe...
1. We learn about Eddie and Venom's domestic 'bliss'
Incoming director Andy Serkis (a replacement for the first film's Ruben Fleischer) appears to be injecting more humour into the proceedings. The first Venom, although a blockbuster success, had trouble matching up its wacky bodily contortions with the needs of an origin story.
However, now that the groundwork is out of the way, the sequel can focus solely on the bizarrely amusing sight of a journalist sharing an apartment with an alien symbiote. Here's hoping their crime-fighting skills are better than their breakfast-making ones.
2. It's apparently influenced by Marvel story arc 'Maximum Carnage'
In the first film, Eddie Brock dispatched meddling industrialist Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed). But the post-credits stinger teased a far more deadly villain: Cletus Kasady, later to become the symbiotic monster Carnage (Woody Harrelson). The latter now takes centre-stage in a narrative that appears to riff heavily on the Marvel storyline 'Absolute Carnage', first printed in 1993.
As per the comic book source, Venom: Let There Be Carnage foregrounds the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane, where Carnage is housed. In the trailer, we see Cletus escaping from a lethal injection and appearing to run riot in the prison, eventually freeing Shriek (Naomie Harris). Again, this would seem to be drawn from the print source, along with the brief glimpses of Carnage and Shriek wreaking havoc in New York City. (Exactly how Cletus bonds with the symbiote in the film is unclear at this stage.)
Intriguingly, the comic book arc was a cross-over story between the worlds of Venom and Spider-Man, as the two characters teamed up to put Carnage down. Does that mean a potential appearance from a certain Tom Holland in the Venom sequel? There's always been a huge question mark over the latter's involvement in the Venom film series, but we can hope, right?
3. The presence of The Daily Bugle may point towards franchise expansion
On the subject of Spider-Man, we can clearly see Stephen Graham's cop character Detective Mulligan reading The Daily Bugle. The publication was where Peter Parker got his first job as a photojournalist (admittedly, this was emphasised more in the Tobey Maguire films than the Tom Holland ones).
Even more significantly, at the end of 2019's Spider-Man: Far From Home, the publication, or, more specifically, its editor J. Jonah Jameson (J.K. Simmons), visibly outed Spider-Man's true identity. This directly resulted from a leak by the late villain Quentin Beck (Jake Gyllenhaal) who implicated Peter in his death.
If the Venom sequel is going to foreground these critical moments of Spider-Man iconography, then maybe, just maybe, it will yield more explicit acknowledgments like a Tom Holland cameo. We already know that next year's Morbius, starring Jared Leto, directly acknowledges the events of Far From Home (in the trailer, we see a graffitied wall decrying Spidey as a murderer). Given that Morbius and the Venom films are both a part of the Sony Universe of Marvel characters, maybe an appearance from Holland is less of a pipe dream than it seems.
4. Venom and Eddie maintain their pact from the first movie
At the end of the first film, the organic, flesh and blood journalist and the otherwordly, slimy symbiote came to an uneasy truce. Namely: they would live together in the same body, but agree not to kill anyone. Or, at the very least, no-one innocent. The end of the trailer returns to the humorous tone with which it began, as store owner Mrs. Chen (Peggy Lu) gets a darkly funny glimpse of the moral struggle going on inside Eddie's body.
That bloodthirsty spirit is surely best reserved for the battle against Carnage, who looks like a truly diabolical villain. Woody Harrelson is a prime purveyor of psychos, having aced them in the likes of Natural Born Killers (1994) and Out of the Furnace (2013). Here's hoping he can give this sequel a bit of the bite that the first film lacked.