Tom Hardy, the man of a thousand incomprehensible accents and more masked roles than his extremely good face warrants, may have just revealed more about the plot of next year’s Venom.
He posted an image to his Instagram, then swiftly deleted it - an image of his character Eddie ‘Venom’ Brock in the large, looming shadow of Cletus ‘Carnage’ Kasady.
That seems like damn near confirmation that Carnage will be the big baddie, as suggested in of a lot of rumours and speculation.
Let’s go through this one thing at a time…
Who is Venom?
Venom is an alien symbiote, a gooey extraterrestrial thingie from the Andromeda Galaxy who is required to bond with another organism to survive.
It’s a member of the Klyntar species, a benevolent race who go around the galaxy seeking out individuals with incredible moral strength and bonding with them - their hosts receive super powers and incredible abilities. However, over time, poor choices of hosts resulted in Klyntar becoming corrupted, and eventually there were more nasty, messed-up ones than good ones.
Venom itself is the first symbiote to come to Earth, where it was brought by Spider-Man after a massive interdimensional fight. He thought it was just a super-cool costume that gave him special powers, while it was in fact a not-that-nice alien. He got rid of it after it both fought crimes using his body without permission and tried to bond with him permanently.
It later bonded with depressed, disgruntled reporter Eddie Brock (played by Topher Grace in Spider-Man 3 and Tom Hardy in the new Venom), its most well-known host, and became one of Spider-Man’s most badass enemies. Due to its time with Spider-Man, it passed his abilities onto Brock, as well as making him undetectable by Spider-Sense.
Who is Carnage?
When Brock, after a reasonable amount of pretty rad fighting, was separated from the alien symbiote, he was imprisoned for the crimes he’d committed as/with Venom. While imprisoned, he shared a cell with Cletus Kasady, a completely unhinged serial killer (who, among other things, had killed his own grandma).
Eventually the symbiote came back for Brock, but left a spore behind in the cell when it took him. This spore bonded with Kasady, becoming the lunatic supervillain Carnage. Lots of murders ensued.
Due to gestating on Earth, this symbiote has more powers than Venom, and more strength than Venom and Spider-Man combined, leading to the pair of them having to team up to beat him.
So hang on, are both Venom and Carnage baddies?
Director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) has confirmed that the film is using two comic storylines as a starting-off point - Venom: Lethal Protector and Planet of the Symbiotes.
Both take place after Venom has been around for a bit, terrorising people and generally committing mayhem, and are instrumental in turning him from a straight-up villain into more of an anti-hero.
Lethal Protector sees him teaming up with Spider-Man (after agreeing to a truce) to battle some newer, nastier symbiotes and superpowered mercenaries, while Planet of the Symbiotes, part of the larger Clone Saga, deals with Venom and Spider-Man battling Carnage while trying to stop more symbiotes taking over Earth.
So who’s playing Carnage?
Nobody’s quite sure. Riz Ahmed is in the film, and there were rumours that he would be man, but he’s now thought to be playing Carlton Drake, the man responsible for the newer, nastier symbiotes mentioned above.
Woody Harrelson is said to be in the film, and would make a great Cletus Kasady (he’s good at playing savages, as shown in both Natural Born Killers and War for the Planet of the Apes), but according to Variety his role is just that of “some sort of henchman”.
Actor Scott Haze has been seen filming fight scenes with Hardy, and he’s no stranger to playing psychopaths - he plays Charles Manson in the upcoming Zeroville. So it’s probably him. Also, what a great surname.
Is Spider-Man in this then?
Oddly enough, probably not. It takes place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is around somewhere, but he doesn’t seem to be making an appearance in Venom. That said, it’s a Marvel film so there’s probably a 50% chance he’ll show up in a post-credits cameo. The new Spider-Man starts filming in May, so he’s around…
Three characters that seem fairly likely to show up, even incredibly briefly, are Black Cat, Silver Sable and Morbius the Living Vampire - a spin-off entitled Silver & Black is in pre-production, and a Morbius film is in development.
Why did Tom Hardy delete his Instagram post?
No idea. He’s a self-confessed huge fan of Venom, so it’s possible he just got really excited at the cool film he was making, then someone who worked for the studio saw what he’d posted and hit the roof upset that the plot was being given away, and made some really livid phone calls, then Hardy’s assistant had to really carefully broach the subject, because even though Tom Hardy’s probably quite nice he could still punch most normal humans through a wall if he wanted to, but on this occasion he just laughed charmingly and said “Guess I should delete it then!” That’s probably what happened.