Director Andy Serkis says let there be the "F-word" in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Like its 2018 predecessor that grossed more than $850 million worldwide, the Sony Pictures sequel weighed an R-rating but received a more tame PG-13 for "intense sequences of violence and action, some strong language, disturbing material and suggestive references." That "strong language" is in part to a final fight "F-bomb" dropped during the climactic clash between Eddie Brock / Venom (Tom Hardy) and serial killer Cletus Kasady / Carnage (Woody Harrelson), who unleashes not-quite-maximum carnage in the Sony's Spider-Man Universe spin-off.
In an exclusive interview with ComicBook's Brandon Davis, Serkis explains appealing to a wide audience with a PG-13 instead of the more restrictive "R" and pushing boundaries with a "darkly-themed" Venom 2.
"Well, you're allowed. The [rating] authorities allow you to have...for a PG-13, you're allowed to have one F-bomb word, and so that's where we used it," Serkis told ComicBook about the sharp-tongued Venom's profanity. "We saved it for that particular moment. Hopefully, people will enjoy it."
Hardy, who produced and co-wrote the Venom sequel story, previously revealed to ComicBook that the creative team "100%" considered an R rating because of Kasady's Carnage. Like the Spider-Man villain's counterpart of the Marvel comic books, Carnage is a sadistic serial murderer wielding a blood-red symbiote designed for killing — making him an ultra-lethal threat to Eddie/Venom.
"Talking about ratings, I know that there were lots of calls for this film to be more R-rated and for Carnage to be an R-rated character. I think what we've done in this movie is actually, it is darkly themed," said Serkis. "And actually, the character Carnage is pretty violent, but hopefully, you want this to be seen by a wide audience. You don't want to be exclusive, and you want it to be loved by lots of people."
Like the first Venom — where the foul-mouthed anti-hero drops an "F-bomb" heading into the final fight against another symbiote supervillain — the brains-craving coupling of Eddie/Venom pushes limits just enough to lick a "hard" PG-13.
"You push it as far as you can, and I do think we've pushed the limits. So it feels like it's a lot older and darker than perhaps it is," Serkis explained. "And although, it still adheres to all of the rules. I think it does feel threatening and menacing and scary at times and feels physically real and dark. So I do think, in terms of ratings, I think we have pushed the boundaries."
The full exclusive with interview Andy Serkis will be available on this Wednesday's Phase Zero Episode 39 on ComicBook.com.
Starring Tom Hardy, Michelle Williams, Naomie Harris, Reid Scott, Stephen Graham, and Woody Harrelson, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is now playing exclusively in theaters.