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Who is Carnage? Get to know Woody Harrelson’s killer character in Venom 2

Sony is giving audiences a double dose of alien symbiotes in Venom 2, the upcoming sequel to Tom Hardy’s 2018 Spider-Man spinoff.

Along with bringing back Hardy as Eddie Brock, the host of the alien entity known as Venom, the film will introduce Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady, who becomes the host of another symbiote, Carnage. A serial killer whose love for sowing chaos is only topped by his affinity for murder, Kasady finds his darkest impulses empowered when he becomes Carnage.

One of Spider-Man’s deadliest foes, Carnage has a long history in the Marvel Comics universe. For those who might not be as familiar with his sinister saga, here’s a quick recap.

A brutal origin

The product of an abusive home, Cletus Kasady had a childhood in which murder, torture, and antisocial behavior were the norm. His disturbing timeline in Marvel’s comics saw him kill his own grandmother at an early age, and after the death of his parents — which he played a direct role in — he took out his murderous inclinations on the orphanage where he was sent.

For Kasady, that was only the start of a long and brutal killing spree that eventually sent him to the penitentiary on Ryker’s Island, serving 11 consecutive life sentences.

It was on Ryker’s Island that he first met Eddie Brock, his cellmate and the former host of the Venom symbiote.

The Venom connection

Imprisoned after a battle with Spider-Man and a pair of villains, Eddie Brock initially believed the Venom symbiote to be dead, and found himself occupying a cell with Kasady — who he hated due to Kasady’s affinity for killing innocent people, something Brock tried to never do as Venom.

However, when the Venom symbiote turned out to be alive and found its way back to Brock, their (Brock and Venom, now joined again) prison escape resulted in the symbiote leaving behind a small bit of itself — essentially, its child.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

That child symbiote bonded with Kasady, and made his already violent, fractured mind even more deranged, and he embarked on a new killing spree with his dramatically heightened powers. It took the combined efforts of Spider-Man and Venom, the former foes now allied against common enemy, along with the Fantastic Four and various other superheroes, to finally defeat Carnage.

Maximum Carnage

Over the years that followed, Carnage would escape from prison at various points, be destroyed and resurrected, and otherwise return to his murderous ways ay one point or another, requiring some combination of Spider-Man, Venom, and other heroes to bring him to justice.

The Carnage symbiote would also find other hosts at times, including Spider-Man and the Silver Surfer, as well as a host of scientists and other characters who mistakenly believed they could study the symbiote without endangering anyone.He has also teamed up with various villains throughout his time on Earth, particularly Shriek, an insane killer who wields a powerful psychic scream that can drive people to uncontrollable violence.

Symbiote vs. symbiote

Although Carnage is technically the offspring of Venom in Marvel’s comics, the two alien entities couldn’t be more different. Brock’s hatred of Spider-Man initially made Venom a villain when he first bonded with his human host, but Brock’s inherent desire to be a hero regulated Venom’s behavior — and for a significant period (in comics time, at least) even made him a popular vigilante character operating out of San Francisco. (Brock moved from New York to San Francisco to distance himself from Spider-Man and the violent impulses he inspired in his symbiote alter ego.)

Carnage, on the other hand, represents everything Brock despises and the opposite end of the moral spectrum when it comes to the symbiote’s potential. If there’s one thing Venom hates more than Spider-Man, it’s Carnage, and that hatred has frequently made Spider-Man and Venom reluctant allies.

Carnage in Sony’s Venom-verse

At this point, we know very little about how Kasady’s story will play out in Venom 2. Rumors have suggested that Tom Holland could make a cameo in the film as Spider-Man, which would further link Sony’s Spider-verse to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and make sense, given Carnage and Venom’s narrative links to the web-slinger in Marvel’s comics.

Woody Harrelson as Carnage in Venom
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Moonlight and James Bond franchise actress Naomie Harris is attached to play Shriek in the film, so there’s reason to believe her character’s association with Carnage will make the leap from page to screen, too. Harrelson made his debut as Kasady in a scene featuring Brock (Hardy) visiting the jail where Kasady is imprisoned, which also plays into the comics’ lore, but it doesn’t appear that Brock will find himself sharing a cell with Kasady in the Venom sequel.

That’s all we currently have to work on, so it will be interesting to see how much of Carnage’s comics history makes it into Venom 2.

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Rick Marshall
A veteran journalist with more than two decades of experience covering local and national news, arts and entertainment, and…
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