Who is Carnage, the irredeemable star of Marvel’s latest romp ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’?

Written by on 26/12/2021

Venom Let There Be Carnage Cletus Kasady explainer

In partnership with Astro Best

Cast your mind back to another age: 2018, when the world saw the release of the movie Venom, the first solo outing of Marvel’s favourite extraterrestrial anti-hero. The origin story of Eddie Brock received a madcap remix that drew some of actor Tom Hardy’s most entertaining performances yet as he worked to portray Venom beyond his comic book origins as the dark-mirrored reflection of the heroic Spider-Man.

Though Venom faced off against Carlton Drake, the tech billionaire with grand ambitions for humanity, the film’s end credits teased an even more exciting villain and gave longtime comic fans another compelling reason to look forward to a sequel: Woody Harrelson as the psychopathic murderer Cletus Kasady, later known as the frightening Carnage.

Malaysian fans can now watch the battle between Venom and Carnage in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, now available on Astro Best Early Access from today (December 26). If you’re not familiar with the comic book lore, here’s NME’s primer on Carnage and who he is – check it out before you buckle in for the big symbiote showdown.

Venom Let There Be Carnage Cletus Kasady explainer
Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady in ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’. Credit: Press

Carnage was irredeemable from the beginning. The character was introduced to Marvel comic readers in 1963’s The Amazing Spider-Man #361 as Cletus Kasady, the cellmate of Eddie Brock. The abuse and psychopathy in Kasady’s tragic backstory calcified into a frightening belief that killing brings true freedom, priming him to be the total antithesis of Venom, the Lethal Protector.

Jailed for the murder of 11 people at the time of their meeting, Kasady boasted about having a dozen more murders under his belt to a disinterested Brock, who was awaiting the return of his symbiotic ‘other’. When the symbiote came to rescue Eddie, it ruptured the wall of Brock’s cell and left the oblivious Kasady a gift: a newborn symbiote, which would bond with one of the Marvel Universe’s most disturbed minds to become Carnage.

Carnage did what he knew best and embarked on a killing spree, inevitably drawing the attention of Spider-Man. The hero fought valiantly, but Carnage, who possessed a stronger bond to his symbiote than that of Venom, was too powerful, too violent, and too deadly. This forced Spider-Man and Venom to come to a truce, and the two managed to defeat Carnage by leveraging a known weakness of symbiotes: a sonic weapon.

Venom Let There Be Carnage Cletus Kasady explainer
Carnage in ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’. Credit: Press

But Carnage was not vanquished – quite the opposite. During the fight with Spider-Man and Venom, Kasady got a cut that allowed the symbiote to enter his bloodstream. As a result, Carnage gained its now-iconic red and black colouration and immunity to loud sounds – and more importantly, the symbiote became irrevocably bound to Kasady.

Carnage’s new powers led to a milestone comic event of the ’90s, Maximum Carnage. This arc is the chief inspiration for Venom: Let There Be Carnage, so we won’t give too much away – but suffice to say that Maximum Carnage saw one of the highest body counts achieved by a supervillain, even during that particularly edgy and testosterone-driven era of comics.

Carnage is still a popular villain in Marvel comics, appearing in several major crossover events and several other Venom and Spider-Man stories. Most recently, he was the catalyst for an epic, galaxy-spanning storyline about an invasion from the symbiotes’ home planet. Cletus freed the dark god of the symbiotes in the 2019 limited series Absolute Carnage, putting into motion a series of events that saw Earth enveloped in a ‘symbiote barrier’ as heroes and villains alike were turned into hosts for symbiotes. For a time, Carnage even became something of a hero when cosmic shenanigans conspired to flip the personalities of several heroes and villains.

Venom Let There Be Carnage Cletus Kasady explainer
Naomie Harris as Shriek in ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’. Credit: Press

Tom Hardy’s Venom got a few tweaks to his origin story for the silver screen, and similarly Kasady has gotten something of a rework to fit into Sony’s Venom-verse. Instead of cellmates, Kasady and Brock meet when the former, a death row inmate, requests that the latter interview him before his execution. Intriguingly, Kasady displays a disturbingly detailed knowledge of Brock’s past, riling Brock into getting close enough for Kasady to bite him. That transfers the symbiote to Kasady, who transforms into Carnage – already in his iconic red-and-black guise – during his execution by lethal injection.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage is also set to feature Naomie Harris as Shriek, Kasady’s love interest during the Maximum Carnage event. She seems to retain her sonic powers and appears to be housed in the Ravencroft Institute of The Mentally Insane, much like she was in the comics.

Another interesting nugget in the trailer suggests symbiotes like Carnage are irregular even within the Sony Venom-verse. During a confrontation in a church, Kasady reveals his Carnage symbiote, causing the Venom symbiote to recoil in fear and retreat into Brock’s body. “That is a red one,” the spooked symbiote explains – implying red symbiotes may be aberrant or unusual among the symbiotes themselves.

The mystery will all be unravelled in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which you can now watch via Astro Best’s Early Access starting today (December 26). Starring the aforementioned Tom Hardy as Venom and veteran actor Woody Harrelson as Carnage, the epic showdown between Marvel’s most iconic extraterrestrial creatures promises to be a darkly comedic romp with visceral, unforgettable action.

Rent Venom: Let There Be Carnage on Astro Best (CH 481) or On Demand via Ultra Box & Astro GO app and stand a chance to win a TTRacing Maxx Air Threads Fabric Gaming Chair (Venom Edition) and other exclusive movie merchandise! More info here

The post Who is Carnage, the irredeemable star of Marvel’s latest romp ‘Venom: Let There Be Carnage’? appeared first on NME.

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