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It’s proving to be an exciting week for Spider-Man fans. Over the weekend, Spider-Man: Homecoming producer Amy Pascal revealed that Sony’s spinoff movies, Venom and Silver & Black, are actually part of the MCU after all. Now, in the latest exciting twist, we’ve learned that Tom Hardy’s Venom will be clashing with his ultimate nemesis: his fellow symbiote, the psychopathic killer known as Carnage!
It’s a comment that has divided fans across the Internet. Some are celebrating the fact we’ll finally be getting a movie version of Carnage, a popular supervillain created back in the ‘90s. Others, however, are disappointed that we’re unlikely to see Carnage take on Tom Holland’s Spider-Man. Venom is due for release next year, and between Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers 4, and the 2019 Homecoming sequel, Holland doesn't have much room in his schedule.
What’s more, the sad truth is that Sony has really struggled with the Spider-Man franchise in the past (which is really why the studio made such an unprecedented deal to bring the wall-crawler into the #MCU). Unlike the main Spider-Man movies, Venom will be made by Sony, and fans have lost a lot of confidence in the studio over the years.
So here’s the question: Would Carnage be better off with Marvel, or with Sony?
Marvel’s Problems With The Character
Back in the ‘90s, #Marvel Comics moved in a grim, gritty direction – even in the flagship Spider-Man comics. As a result, we saw the House of Ideas creating a whole new wave of brutal, violent antiheroes and supervillains. Carnage was undoubtedly one of their most sinister. A psychopathic murderer who was exposed to one of the alien symbiotes, Carnage took a ruthless joy in killing. There was literally nothing he loved more than the shedding of blood, and he proved the point in 1993’s much-loved ‘Maximum Carnage’ event. That saw Carnage assemble a team of like-minded maniacs and go on a killing spree across New York, with Spider-Man and a handful of unlikely allies desperately trying to stop him.
I can understand why fans are eager for Carnage to interact with the wider Marvel Universe. He tests Spider-Man’s morality in a way no other villain does; ‘Maximum Carnage’ saw Spider-Man wrestle with the question of how far he would go to save his city. Carnage was presented as a force of nature, and for much of the event it genuinely seemed to Spider-Man that the only way to stop the slaughter of innocents was to kill the murderer.
However, there's one problem: that story simply couldn’t happen in the mainstream MCU. For one thing, there’s absolutely no way Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is in a place where he can deal with the moral ambiguities of ‘Maximum Carnage.’ We’ve been told that the Spider-Man trilogy is going to be loosely inspired by the Harry Potter franchise, charting Peter Parker’s experience of high school in a lighthearted, John-Hughes-esque series. Carnage hardly fits with the trilogy.
Look beyond the Spider-Man trilogy, though, and it’s pretty clear that Carnage doesn’t fit with the Marvel Studios brand at all. Marvel isn’t afraid to go a little dark, and directors happily explore a wide range of styles and tones; still, at all times, the House of Ideas is careful to aim for that all-important PG-13 rating. The levity, humor, and joy of the franchise has become part of the core brand, and I don’t see Marvel going off-brand any time soon.
The reality, then, is that Marvel Studios would do nothing with Carnage; he’s off-brand for the mainstream movies. The best we could hope is for Marvel Studios to pass him on to Marvel Television, who are far more willing to diversify in terms of tone and style. After all, Marvel Television incorporates everything from the upcoming teen comedy New Warriors to the ongoing Marvel Netflix shows.
Yet with Marvel Television, the budget simply isn’t there for an effective symbiote saga. Over on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Marvel recently wowed us with the newest incarnation of Ghost Rider, Gabriel Luna’s Robbie Reyes. Unfortunately, expensive CGI meant the character was limited to the first "pod" of Season 4, with a brief reprise in the season finale. The same kind of budget issues would mean Marvel Television would struggle to effectively use Carnage in the medium-to-long-term.
Why Carnage is better with Sony.
I can fully understand why fans are concerned. Many were disappointed with the last Amazing Spider-Man films; worse, in late 2014, the Sony hacks revealed internal emails that suggested the studio didn’t know what to do with the franchise. Sony’s failings are one reason fans celebrated the Marvel / Sony deal so much.
However, the reality is that the Marvel / Sony deal seems to have breathed new life into a struggling studio. Sony has a vision for building a sort of “Spider-Man universe,” giving the wall-crawler’s most complex villains a chance to shine. Seen as “adjuncts” to the MCU, these promise to embrace a far wider range of tones and styles than anything Marvel Studios would ever dare to try. Everything we’re hearing suggests that the studio is actually working on a longer-term plan, and has finally worked out what to do with this franchise.
Although it’s not been announced, everything seems to indicate that Sony is aiming for a more mature film with Venom; and frankly, that’s the only way a villain like Carnage could possibly work. You’re talking a villain who delights in the spilling of blood, forms his symbiote into slashing knives to delightedly rend flesh and bone, and considers violence and death to be his supreme joy. You simply can’t do justice to Carnage without an R-rating.
It’s worth noting, too, that there’s no reason Carnage can’t cross paths with Spider-Man in the long-term. Tom Holland is only contracted for six movies (the Spider-Man trilogy, Civil War, Infinity War, and Avengers 4), but Sony insiders intend to sign him up for future films and spin-offs. If Carnage survives Venom, then Tom Holland could quite possibly be signed up for a sequel. A version of ‘Maximum Carnage’ – albeit one that probably focuses on Venom rather than Spider-Man – is actually possible.
So there you have it, Spider-Man fans. I realize this view is probably going to be a controversial one, but I genuinely believe that Carnage is in better hands with Sony than he would be with Marvel. The character wouldn’t fit with Marvel Studios, and Marvel Television would lack the budget to do him justice. In contrast, Sony actually seem to be developing a vision for the character, and it’s one I’m increasingly interested in seeing.
(Source: The Hollywood Reporter)