Venom: Carnage! may look like it’s singularly focused on Venom and Carnage’s feud from the outside — but take a closer look at the film’s final tease and you’ll find that it’s secretly a big screen family affair.
Take it from Venom’s late-act Carnage reveal via Woody Harrelson’s take on Cletus Kasady, the sequel sneakily debuts a very special new symbiote before the credits roll.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Venom: Let There Be Carnage.]
Stephen Graham’s final scene shows Pat Mulligan, a seemingly paralyzed police officer with glowing blue eyes. Mulligan just so happens to share his name with the first host of the Toxin symbiote in Marvel’s numerous Venom spinoff comics.
Toxin is a mystery. What do these things have to with Carnage? Well, as with all of the best Venom stories, it’s a comically convoluted but fun yarn about weird alien pregnancy, jealousy, and a lot of slime.
A four-issue miniseries, 2004’s Venom Vs. Carnage from writer Peter Milligan and artist Clayton Crain introduced readers to a “pregnant” Carnage who was preparing to spawn a symbiote child, one of a truly unmanageable number of different symbiote offshoots born in Marvel comics over the years.
In much the same way the Venom symbiote and its host, Eddie Brock, initially spawned Carnage (and the other symbiote characters who inspired the Life Foundation symbiotes in 2019’s Venom) Carnage’s pregnancy is part of an asexual process where a symbiote produces a child as a response to panic or threat.
They tend to be more powerful than their parents so Kasady & Carnage were furious at anyone trying to take over their position. They set about to end their goo-kid, and were followed by Venom throughout the series who was more understanding of what Toxin might do.
Enter police officer Pat Mulligan who, in the series’ first issue, became an unwitting host for Carnage’s child after the parent Symbiote made a risky play to plant Toxin — so named by Venom — somewhere out of the way until an increasingly sick Cletus had recovered enough to come back and destroy it.
It was indeed risky as Toxin became terrifyingly powerful within Mulligan and outperformed Venom and Carnage in strength and gooeyness. Toxin was able to sense the enemies of its enemies in the NYC metro area and had all their symbiote power and many more. Brock asked Cletus to grant a temporary truce to allow them to address their mutual threat.
Toxin made friends with its own but was supported by Black Cat (and Spider-Man) and won a victory against his grandparent and parent. In the series’ finale, Mulligan and Toxin set off for a life of their own, leaving Mulligan’s wife and newborn child behind to keep them safe.
From there, Mulligan and Toxin would share a semi-storied career — including a self-titled solo series exploring Toxin’s rare allyship with Spider-Man, its inability to live on its own like Venom and Carnage can, and its molding from childhood under Mulligan’s rules to never commit homicide, arson, or theft. Eventually, Eddie Brock even became a temporary host of the Toxin Symbiote after Mulligan’s untimely death.
It’s all good food for thought. Carnage, please! sequel — but only if director Andy Serkis wants to get really weird with it.
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