Venom is now in theaters, and the film's post-credits scene introducing Woody Harrelson's Carnage, was certainly the sort of Marvel-brand "button" that has fans buzzing about the exciting things that could happen in the Venom sequel. However, after reading this latest report, fans may find it hard to maintain the same level of enthusiasm for Venom 2.
In a recent interview about Venom and the larger future of Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters, Spider-Man / Venom movie producer Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach hinted that like the Venom movie, Venom 2 may not get an "R Rating" either - even if Carnage is in the film!
"You know what? When you hear Venom…forget Venom. When you hear, Carnage, the only thing you can think of is R. But, if you know his story, if you really know the comic, there’s no R here." Avi Arad told Collider. "He’s a tortured soul. It’s not about what he does, because we never have to show the knife going from here to there, and the blood is pouring. What you have to show is, what is the motivation? Was he born like that, or it’s someone we should feel for, because if you are succeeding to make a villain someone you can feel for, jackpot."
For anyone unfamiliar: "Carnage" is the name of a symbiote creature that bonds with convicted serial killer Cletus Kasady (Harrelson in the movie), and thereafter becomes a nightmarish villain who maims and murders without discretion, and serves as a primary rival for both Venom and Spider-Man. It's safe to say that Carnage has become one of the most famous Spider-Man villains since his introduction in 1991, and a lot of fans were thrilled by the prospect of getting the full-fledged character (in all his bloody brilliance) in a Venom movie sequel.
In fact, in the opinion a lot of fans, Venom 2 should be a Venom: Maximum Carnage movie, which draws from the famous 1990s crossover storyline. In that sordid tale, Carnage has mutated to the point of the symbiote mixing into his blood at a cellular level, which allows him to avoid detection and escape into New York, teaming some fellow psychotic inmates and/or some of the more demonic Spider-Man villains, for a massive killing spree. It takes an uneasy truce between Spider-Man, Venom, Black Cat, Morbius, Nightwatch, and other Marvel heroes to stop Carnage from turning all of NYC into a psychotic den of psychically-brainwashed killers.
With Sony already expanding its Spider-Man movie universe to introduce characters like Morbius The Living Vampire (Jared Leto) or Black Cat, a Venom: Maximum Carnage movie would, essentially, be the best and biggest crossover movie event to really establish the SUMC as a legitimate cousin to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It would also have the best chance of actually making big bank - and wouldn't need the R-rating to do so, at this point. While many fans might've imagined the live-action version of Carnage being something akin to a slasher horror film, there are actually plenty of horror movie monsters that are creating massive scares while under restriction of a PG-13 rating. For example: DC's Shazam! director David F. Sanders made two acclaimed (and very freaky) horror flicks in Lights Out (2016) and Annabelle: Creation (2017); James Wan's Conjuring and Insidious franchises have always walked the PG-13 line; and even modern J-horror cult-classics like The Ring or The Grudge haven't been Rated-R.
As Avid Arad points out, Marvel Comics always had to tell Carnage stories without violating the strict censorship standards of the medium, so blood, gore, and (forgive me) carnage are not what would make the live-action version work well onscreen. Harrelson already gave us a taste of how menacing his Carnage could be (we're not talking aobut that horrible wig...), as we meet him while he's written out a "Welcome Note" to Eddie Brock, using the blood from his own forearm (in a PG-13 movie).
Venom is now playing in theaters.