With widespread vaccination access (hopefully, fingers crossed, keep up the pressure about waiving those patents) starting to put COVID-19 in the rearview, movie theaters and the studios whose output fills their screens are on the comeback trail. And while the likes of Marvel Studios and The Fast Saga are marking this occasion with earnest tributes to The Power Of The Movies, the newly released trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage has no such pretensions. It opens with a full embrace of the franchise’s position as the unorthodox buddy comedy within Sony’s cinematic Spider-Verse, a slice from Eddie Brock’s (Tom Hardy) life with the voracious symbiote (you say “sim-bee-it,” and Venom says “sim-buy-oat”) that bonded to him in the first Venom. Their apartment is a disaster area, Venom’s singing along to “Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off,” and breakfast is thrown together in spectacularly sloppy fashion.
But this is a superhero movie, so it can’t all be messy roommate gags and Axel Foley jackets. Because just like Eddie’s life, this trailer does not belong to him: From the moment Woody Harrelson chimes in with a series of sing-song taunts and rhetorical questions, the enterprise is hijacked by Cletus Kasady, the serial killer introduced in Venom’s mid-credits sequence and the host for the sequel’s antagonist, Carnage. Sure, there are glimpses of Venom’s toothy, “This better not awaken anything in me” visage and brief introductions to Naomie Harris as the sound-manipulating baddie Shriek and Stephen Graham as Daily Bugle-reading cop Detective Mulligan. But the voice in our head is Harrelson’s, Kasady’s agent-of-chaos MO forming Sony’s bid for a Joker of its very own—albeit one whose desire to watch the world burn comes with all manner of body-horror tendrils. Those appendages are brought to the screen under the guidance of motion-capture maestro Andy Serkis, who’s planting a directorial flag in another part of Marvel’s onscreen multiverse after playing Ulysses Klaue in Avengers: Age Of Ultron and Black Panther.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage premieres in theaters September 24, 2021.