Director Andy Serkis hints other Spider-Man villains familiar to Marvel Comics readers might appear in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. The sequel set in the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters follows investigative reporter Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), now 18 months into his role as a lethal protector with the alien Venom symbiote, who works with Detective Mulligan (Stephen Graham) and the San Francisco Police Department to find the bodies of victims slain by the serial killer Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson). But when execution by lethal injection goes wrong and the killer escapes San Quentin State Prison, Kasady bonds with the blood-red symbiote he'll use to unleash maximum carnage.
Kasady seeks out Francis Barrison (Naomie Harris), a.k.a. Shriek, an inmate of the Ravencroft Institute: a sanitarium that houses a number of Spider-Man's criminally insane foes in the comic books.
"This lovely little abode is of course well-known to fans. I'm not going to say too much about it, but of course, it houses some of the world's greatest supervillains," Serkis told IGN about Ravencroft. "It's a secret place not even Detective Mulligan and [the San Francisco Police Department] know about."
"We get another slightly different entry point into this strange place which of course links up to other Marvel universe characters, particularly Spider-Man stories, of course," Serkis teased. "But again, without giving too much away."
The first trailer for Sony's Morbius, also set in the SPUMC, ended with the living vampire Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) encountering an apparently-escaped Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), the costumed criminal known as the Vulture, who was last seen in a New York prison after being thwarted by Spider-Man (Tom Holland) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe-set Spider-Man: Homecoming. Despite the apparent link between the SPUMC and the MCU, Venom 2 takes place in its own corner of the wider Marvel universe — at least for now.
"Obviously, there are links between Venom and Spider-Man in the Marvel Universe and the Spider-Man story, but in this, we're treating this very much as it's his own world. The Venom story is his own world," Serkis told IGN. "There are nods and little moments just like this, the newspaper [from the] Daily Bugle, of course, but on the whole, he's unaware — they're unaware — at this point of other characters like Spider-Man. So that's the way we've chosen to play this particular episode of the movie but, well, we'll wait and see what little things you can pick out of it."
Sanford Panitch, President of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, recently told Variety that "there actually is a plan" to connect the two previously separate universes. Referencing the upcoming Sony and Marvel Studios co-production Spider-Man: No Way Home — which reportedly assembles a Sinister Six from across the Marvel Multiverse — Panitch suggested the ever-expanding Multiverse would ultimately link the SPUMC and Disney's MCU.
"We don't really think of our 900 characters as the Spidey-verse. We have a Marvel universe," Panitch added of the SPUMC, which will soon add Kraven the Hunter (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). "The volume of characters we have — you know, wait until you see this next Venom. You don't miss Spider-Man." After a pause, Panitch added, "It'll be exciting if they do meet, right?"
Venom: Let There Be Carnage opens in theaters on September 24.