Venom Returns and Carnage or: Whether Or Not a Big Budget Movie Can Outdo a 90s Show
We love Venom
We all loved Venom. Okay, we liked Venom. Fine, it was over the top, dumb, and filled with so much ‘90s cheese that it wouldn’t be surprising if it was filmed back then but had modern actors digitally replacing whoever was actually cast. So overall, it was okay.
Tom Hardy did this weird as hell performance, even before gaining the symbiote. Michelle Williams wore an obvious wig, oh and her acting was good too. And Sony reaped in the benefits of fans’ love for the giant, muscular antihero. So of course, there’s gotta be a sequel, because why not.
Let There Be Carnage
The sequel will followup from Venom’s post credit scene, which introduced yet another really obviously fake wig worn by Woody Harrelson when he hasn’t been high for a while. Harrelson plays Cletus Kasady, definitely one of the most polite psychopathic serial killers you could ever meet.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage will have Andy Serkis taking over directing from Ruben Fleischer and sees Cletus escaping prison and gain the Carnage symbiote. Going on a rampage, Eddie Brock must use his own symbiote to once again become Venom and defeat the deranged villain. With a teaser from a month ago confirming the release date to be June of 2021, who knows if Sony will stick to it or if the coronavirus lasts long enough that the date changes.
The Importance of Spider-Man: The Animated Series
Until then, lets remember the first time that Venom and Carnage appeared and eventually fought each other outside of both comics and video games. And that was in a two part episodic arc from the mid ‘90s Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Before we begin, let’s just admit it that since these episodes had the Web Head it automatically makes it better than Let There Be Carnage.
This series was one of eight animated shows from the decade based on Marvel property. These, as well as their DC equivalents of that decade, helped the comic book superhero genre get into the mainstream thanks to the more serious storytelling, better animation, and well-regarded performances.
Compared to the other Marvel shows, Spider-Man was second best when it came to the legacy and impact to the genre, with the biggest was of course the animated X-Men. This was mainly due to limited by censorship guidelines, its animation often being reused in very obvious places, and how the performances were a little over the top. But even with these little hiccups, this iteration of our favorite friendly neighborhood wall crawler is still iconic whether you grew up with it or not. And thus, we have finally reached the quick recap portion of this review.
Two-Parter Sequel to Three-Parter
The third season two-parter, Venom Returns and Carnage, serves as a followup to the Alien Costume saga from the first season. It all starts out with Spider-Man helping the police capture Cletus, now a mad bomber but still in keeping with the comic’s deranged behavior. Eddie Brock, who has been kept in an insane asylum since the symbiote was split from him, longs to reunite with it and become Venom again so as to get revenge against Spider-Man.
As it turns out, Dormammu has ordered Baron Mordo to bring back the symbiote so that Venom and Cletus, using an offspring of the original to become Carnage, can help the demon escape. While they initially work together to fight Spider-Man and War Machine to steal a device from Stark Industries capable of opening portals to other dimensions, Venom’s obsession with Spider-Man causes him to break his deal.
To free Dormammu, Carnage is given the ability to suck out the life-force of anyone, thus leading to a rampage. When one of Carnage’s targets is Dr. Ashley Kafka, the psychiatrist that treated Eddie and Cletus, Venom agrees to a truce due to gaining feelings for her.
With the help of Iron Man, all three break into Mordo’s lair to prevent Dormammu from escaping. While they manage to drive back the demon to his dimension, Carnage grabs Kafka as he is also sucked in. Venom saves her, but in doing so falls into the portal with both Carnage and Dormammu.
With Mordo escaping and Iron Man destroying his own device, Spider-Man takes Kafka home as she believes that Eddie saw himself as too much of a monster in this world. Spider-Man sees that despite Venom being his greatest enemy, he turned out to be a great ally. The two-parter ends with Madame Web informing him of a forthcoming event that will change everything.
What Works and What Doesn’t
With just two episodes running a little over forty minutes, this show managed to do what the movie will hopefully try to do. Sure, the censorship restrictions keep Carnage from fully committing to his comic book roots, but much like a movie with a smaller than expected budget lots of imagination and ingenuity helps in making it work. The writers and Scott Cleverdon’s performance as Cletus manage to give us enough dread and insanity to make us forget about how bloodless the chaos is.
The crossover with Iron Man is nothing new as the second season had one with X-Men: The Animated Series and previous episodes in the same season had Spider-Man teamed up with Doctor Strange and Daredevil. It was awesome getting to see War Machine and then Iron Man take on Venom and Carnage, even if it was a little odd that Strange never took part since Mordo and Dormammu are his enemies.
The fight scenes are awesome, though a little bogged down by the constant use of stock footage and the characters constantly talking in overdramatic ways about every single thing. Venom and Carnage’s rivalry may have been short-lived, but it felt very believable due to their different personalities and goals. Spider-Man: The Animated Series adapted various issues of Spider-Man’s many titles that introduced Carnage to tell these two episodes, and while it had a lot of limitations it was nonetheless a well told story.
You can stream this two-parter and the rest of the series at Disney+.
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