[Editor’s note: Spoilers ahead for both “Venom” and its post-credits scenes.]
The first indication that the Tom Hardy-starring “Venom” feature film is going to be a little different than other Marvel movies comes early, thanks to a giant Marvel logo that appears during the opening credits with a curious add-on, “In association with.” No, this is not a Marvel movie of the regular variety, not a Marvel Cinematic Universe feature, not even an actual Spider-Man film, despite being built around one of the web slinger’s most infamous villains. (For now, let’s just call it a “Spider-Verse” film and work from there.)
Still, Ruben Fleischer’s off-kilter superhero film is rooted in the Spider-Man mythos, and while it’s not an MCU film, it can’t escape the pull of the MCU post-credits scene. Like its distant MCU brethren, Fleischer uses a pair of scenes to introduce possibilities for a potential sequel while also drumming up interest in another imminent Spider-Verse film.
In “Venom,” Hardy is tasked with a curious dual role: journalist Eddie Brock, disgraced early on after an interview with a powerful foe (Riz Ahmed) goes awry, and Venom, an alien parasite known as a “Symbiote” who attaches himself to Eddie, leading to some high-energy adventures. The film concludes with a wink to the unlikely pair’s future together, and it’s that kind of forward-thinking that powers two very different post-credits scenes.
Here’s what the post-credits scenes are and how they tie back to the rest of the burgeoning Spider-verse.
[One more time: Spoilers ahead for both “Venom” and its post-credits scenes.]
1. A New Foe
Back on his beat of busting baddies and then posting about it on the internet, Eddie heads off to San Quentin Prison to meet an infamous prisoner interested in spilling his (metaphorical, maybe) guts to only Eddie. As he trundles up a suitably dark and grimy road, Eddie hisses to Venom that this is “a me thing, not a we thing,” but he’s about to be proven wrong. Eddie’s motives are somewhat altruistic — it seems that the prisoner is a serial killer who is holding out on the FBI, and Eddie suspects he might be able to get him to confess to a few suspected crimes — though it’s clear from the start that whoever is waiting for him behind bars is pulling all the strings.
Stuck in an isolated cage in a larger room, very “Silence of the Lambs,” waits the prisoner, who has literally used his own blood to craft a welcome message for Eddie (full text: “Welcome, Eddie”). Fans of the Venom storylines will likely already know who Eddie is about to meet, but even newbies will be shocked when they catch a glimpse of a curly, bright red wig sitting atop no less than Woody Harrelson’s head. That serial killer Eddie is visiting? It’s Carnage, AKA Cletus Kasady, widely viewed as Venom’s signature antagonist.
Harrelson’s involvement in the film has been rumored for months now, and when Collider asked him about it during the “Solo” press rounds, he tried to keep things vague. “I’m in a little fraction of this movie, but I’ll be in the next one, you know?” Harrelson said. “So I haven’t read that script, but anyways, just rolled the dice. … I thought it was under wraps that I’m even in the movie.” It’s telling that Harrelson has already offered up that he’s “in the next one,” because there’s little doubt that the introduction of his Carnage is mostly meant to stoke excitement for a possible sequel.
Like Venom, Carnage is typically portrayed as a human (in this case, Kasady, a sociopath, sadist, and serial killer, designed as a counterpoint to the more moralistic Venom) who becomes infected with one of the alien Symbiotes. When the character was introduced in the comics in the early nineties, it was part of a complex storyline that centered on Eddie’s own Symbiote unknowingly spawning its own offspring, which then bonded with Cletus, making him even more stronger and dangerous than he already was previously.
While the comics storyline threw Eddie and Cletus together as fellow prisoners, thus allowing such a weird bonding to occur, “Venom” only puts the pair together once Cletus is locked up. There’s also no indication that the Symbiote inside Cletus is the offspring of Venom, but as Fleischer’s film kept careful count of the four Symbiotes it introduced, with Venom the only one clearly still alive, it’s still possible that Carnage is related to Venom.
In various comic storylines, Carnage gets out of prison, fights Spider-Man, fights Venom, and attempts to build his own army of terrifying villains, including Shriek, Demogoblin, Carrion, and Doppelgänger. While none of those characters are mentioned during the scene, Carnage closes it out with a promise to be back for lots more, snarling at Eddie, “If I get outta here, and I will, it’s gonna be…carnage!”
2. “Meanwhile, In Another Universe”
“Venom” is not the only Spider-verse-connected film due to hit the big screen before the year is out, and the film’s second post-credits scene cedes itself entirely to drumming up support for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” The animated offering literally takes place in yet another cinematic universe — it’s even introduced via on-screen text that announces “Meanwhile, in another universe” — and centers on the experiences of young Spider-Man Miles Morales (voiced by Shameik Moore).
There’s a lot to look forward to when it comes to “Spider-Verse,” which utilizes a colorful, flashy animated style that approximates the look and feel of an actual comic book, from stippling to panels to the way story beats are laid out. There’s also Miles, first introduced as an alternate universe Spider-Man in 2011. But he’s not the only Spider-Man in this world, and the extended sequence picks up with a young Miles visiting the grave of no less than Peter Parker himself.
Not to worry, however, because as Miles is bidding his good wishes to the dearly departed webslinger and wondering about his own place in the world, another young Spider-Man approaches him from behind. It’s also Peter Parker, though it’s not quite clear if it’s the thought-dead Peter or yet another one (in early comic book storylines, Peter was very much dead; in later versions, he was alive and reticent to talk about his “demise”), but whoever he is, he wants to help Miles. Which is why it’s so funny when Miles accidentally knocks him out.
As the duo flee from some very confused cops (plus classic Spider-Man villain the Prowler), what unfolds is a kinetic, well-crafted, and energetic chase scene through New York City. Before Peter was knocked out cold, he shot Miles with his own webs, and the pair are stuck together, a silly idea made even more entertaining by Miles’ big plan to use his own web shooters to attach himself to a passing above ground subway car. A terrified Miles and a still-unconcious Peter zoom through the city, before finally coming to rest over a typically jaded group of New Yorkers.
Sony will release on “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” on December 14 and, based on both this extended look and other previous sneaks, the studio has an amusing, creatively crafted new entry on its hands. If only someone could make some sort of flowchart.
“Venom” is in theaters now.