If you thought Venom's prehensile tongue and insatiable taste for human flesh was terrifying, then you ain't seen nothing yet. Let There Be Carnage, Sony's upcoming sequel to the antihero's 2018 origin film, is going to make your skin crawl even more, according to the project's editor, Maryann Brandon.
"I think it has a smilier tone to the first one, although Carnage is a scarier character," she exclusively tells SYFY WIRE. "Now there’s another [symbiote]. Woody Harrelson and Tom Hardy have a really good dynamic together ... Venom 2’s gonna be really good fun."
Briefly seen in the first film's mid-credits sequence, Harrelson (Zombieland: Double Tap) is playing Cletus Kasady, an unhinged killer with a mane of red hair who finds himself released from prison and bonded with an alien symbiote that amplifies his homicidal tendencies. A first look at the antagonist dropped on Hardy's Instagram page in early 2020, but was quickly removed by the actor.
Fans got an official look at Kasady in the first trailer, which shows him breaking free as he's set to be executed by lethal injection. Carnage will meet his match in Eddie Brock (Hardy) after the investigative journalist came to an accord with his own man-eating alien parasite. Both parties eventually agreed that they would only use their horrific powers for noble purposes, but that doesn't exactly sit well with the insatiable Venom, whose meals of bad guys are few and far between.
Andy Serkis (Lord of the Rings, Black Panther) directed the follow-up, taking over the reins from Zombieland alum, Ruben Fleischer (now in post-production on Sony's Uncharted adaptation). Serkis is quite famous for pioneering the world of motion capture, so it comes as no surprise when Brandon reveals that Let There Be Carnage uses "a combination" of mo-cap and CGI effects.
"They're hugely different filmmakers," the editor says of the two Venom directors. "Venom’s a tricky film because you like Venom, but he’s scary. You’re always on the edge of like...you don’t want it to be campy, but you want to like him. And you don’t want to be too scared and you can’t be too horrific with it. Venom’s kind of a horrific character, isn’t it? Which is why Tom Hardy’s brilliant because he manages to do that, [and] Andy Serkis is great at this stuff."
While she cut together the first Venom, Brandon actually wasn't supposed to return for the follow-up due to the fact that she had her hands full with the ninth episode of Star Wars. "I was just brought in when COVID hit," she recalls. "Sony had asked me to do it and I was like, ‘Look, I can’t, I’m doing Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and I’m exhausted … I can’t.’ And they were like, ‘Ok, ok.’ Then they hammered me, they wouldn't leave me alone, and then COVID hit and they were like, ‘Will you help us now?’ So I wasn’t around for any of the shooting or the first cut. I came in and rejiggered a bunch of stuff. So I didn’t work as closely with Andy Serkis as I did with Ruben."
Speaking with SYFY WIRE in 2019, Venom creator Todd McFarlane praised the 2018's movie's depiction of the character after he was underwhelmed by Sam Raimi's Spider-Man 3 interpretation. Despite the fact that the new translation of Venom to the big screen does draw from classic comic books (such as 1993's Lethal Protector storyline), Brandon decided to avoid the Marvel source material.
"I don’t know anything about the comic book and I didn’t read it because I didn’t really want to be influenced as opposed to Star Wars [where] I knew everything about [it] when I went into it," she concludes. "I’m always being told, ‘Well, Carnage can do this’ or ‘Venom can do that’ and I’m like, ‘Oh…ok.’ But I don’t feel beholden to the comic per se because we’re [making this] for a much wider audience, aren’t we? Venom appeals to 12-year-olds as well as 50-year-olds."
Penned by Kelly Marcel (co-writer of the first movie), Let There Be Carnage will see the return of Michelle Williams and Reid Scott as Anne Weying and Dan Lewis respectively. James Bond vet Naomie Harris is portraying the villain known as Shriek, while Stephen Graham (The Irishman) and Sean Delaney (Killing Eve) round out the slate of newcomers.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage chomps into theaters everywhere Friday, Oct. 1.