Venom: Let There Be Carnage has somehow become the surprise romantic comedy of the year, after Eddie Brock and his brain-hungry symbiote renewed their vows and the sequel raked in the biggest box office opening weekend since COVID-19 shuttered theaters in March 2020. But the sole end-credits scene of the film guaranteed that the biggest talking point coming out of the movie wouldn’t be its bizarre love story or stunning popularity. Because the Venom-verse and the Spider-Man franchise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are finally coming together.
The scene in question finds Brock and Venom enjoying their honeymoon getaway after devouring the brain of serial killer Cletus Kasady. They’re entranced by a tense telenovela where long-kept secrets are emerging between a couple, and the drama leads to an intriguing discovery for Brock as Venom tells him, “We all have a past, Eddie.” The symbiote explains that his consciousness is attached to a larger alien hive mind that spans thousands of years and universes, and just before Venom provides a glimpse of his hidden past to his curious host, the room begins to shake and the two are transported to another universe. The TV screen then flashes the familiar face of J.K. Simmons’s J. Jonah Jameson just in time for the Daily Bugle show host to deliver a report about the discovery of Spider-Man’s secret identity—bringing us right back to when Spider-Man: Far From Home ended and when No Way Home will pick back up in December.
While this union between Venom and Spider-Man has been long anticipated by fans of both characters, especially those who weren’t satisfied with a first attempt in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, it was never an inevitability thanks to the ever-confusing relationship between Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios. According to Let There Be Carnage director Andy Serkis, the stinger was one of the last pieces of the film to come together. “[The mid-credits scene was] 100 percent in flux, yeah. It couldn’t have been more in flux-y if you tried,” he recently told The Hollywood Reporter. “There were moments where [Spider-Man] was going to be in the story, potentially, and then he wasn’t. But no, we decided that we wanted to really examine the Venom-verse first. So as we were going through principal photography, the inevitable discussions had to be had, but it wasn’t until very, very late on that we reached the precise notion of the teaser that we wanted to lay in there.”
Though it would’ve been interesting to see Tom Holland’s Spider-Man try to fit into Let There Be Carnage, the more pressing question is how these two franchises will come together now that the path has been cleared. The scene places Eddie and Venom firmly in position to return as soon as No Way Home, with Jameson’s Daily Bugle broadcast—which first appeared in a post-credits scene for Far From Home and then again in the upcoming film’s trailer—confirming where we’re at in the MCU’s timeline. And, interestingly enough, the No Way Home trailer seemed to tease the arrival of the Sinister Six, the band of Spider-Man villains who join forces to try to defeat the wall-crawling hero, with potential allusions to five antagonists: Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Electro, Sandman, and Lizard. While Doc Ock and Green Goblin were the only ones that were confirmed by the trailer without any doubt, there was notably a sixth spot in the group still up for grabs. And as one of the most enduring and prominent archnemeses to Spider-Man in the comics, it’s possible that Venom could be that final missing member.
With all of that said, the arrival of Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock to the MCU is so momentous that it’s hard to imagine No Way Home being able to accommodate it, what with the movie already needing to split time between Spider-Man (and three variants of him at that, if the never-ending rumors of Tobey Maguire’s and Andrew Garfield’s returns are true), Doctor Strange, and some of the most beloved villains of Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. Plus, the Venom-verse has positioned its leading character to be more of an antihero than a villain, with Let There Be Carnage even ending with Eddie finally embracing the “Lethal Protector” vigilante persona that Venom has been pulling them toward. It’s still possible that they choose to join forces with Peter Parker(s) in No Way Home or stop by for a quick cameo rather than face off against him, but perhaps the more likely outcome is that Holland and Hardy share the screen in a future film after the Spider-Man star renews his own vows with Marvel Studios.
Beyond the matter of when this team-up between Spider-Man and Venom takes place, another mystery lies in what ties they already have to each other in a confusing, disparate canon that is now merging four film franchises with three different Spider-Men and two Venoms. There’s a moment in the Let There Be Carnage stinger when Venom begins licking the TV screen as the Daily Bugle broadcast shows images of an unmasked Peter Parker and says, “that guy,” as if the symbiote recognizes him (either that or Venom just needs to be fed some brains again). This could be signaling to Venom’s run-in with Maguire’s Peter Parker when his host was the former That ’70s Show star Topher Grace instead of Hardy, or even to their connection in the comics. Whatever the case may be, it is going to be an interesting challenge for Sony and Marvel Studios to mesh the two characters as well as the different tones of their respective franchises. (For example: While one of the major moments of Far From Home finds Peter and MJ finally sharing a romantic kiss, Let There Be Carnage cuts Kasady’s heartfelt and climactic goodbye to Eddie short when Venom chomps off his head and exclaims, “Fuck this guy!”) Venom became the surprise box office hit of 2018 thanks to a star-making turn from the alien symbiote and the film’s chaotic energy, and Let There Be Carnage leaned even further into its charming strangeness. The MCU’s Spider-Man franchise, meanwhile, has adopted a rather innocent vibe as it focuses on the youngest Avenger finding his place in the worlds of adolescence and superheroes. The two franchises have taken two very different filmmaking routes to similar financial success, and while this new bond is almost guaranteed to achieve the same outcome at the box office, it remains to be seen whether they’ll work in tandem. The only sure thing is that they’re going to collide—how it happens, and what happens afterward, is anyone’s guess.
The growing significance of the multiverse in the MCU, brought on mostly due to the events of Loki, has provided a window of opportunity for these franchises to seamlessly merge together within the span of a brief end-credits scene. When Spider-Man and Venom appear on screen together in earnest, we’ll have the best chance yet to see just how far the existence of the multiverse can take Marvel—or perhaps find out exactly what its limits may be.