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All the Venom 2 rumors and spoilers leaked so far

Critics and audiences sometimes disagree, and 2018's Venom is a prime example. Equal parts sci-fi horror flick and superhero origin story, Venom's utterly abysmal score on Rotten Tomatoes didn't do anything to stop moviegoers from paying to see the former Spider-Man villain eat bad guys on the big screen. Venom proved more profitable than any of the live-action Spider-Man movies — including those starring Tobey Maguire, Andrew Garfield, or Tom Holland — with the sole exception of Sam Raimi's first Spider-Man from 2002. Its advance ticket sales outperformed those of a number of successful MCU films. That's impressive, if for no other reason than that the last time audiences saw a live-action Venom — played by Topher Grace in 2007's Spider-Man 3 — it helped to kill a franchise.

This time around we're going to get a sequel. It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who bothered to watch the Venom mid-credits scene with Woody Harrelson that practically screamed, "Sequel Villain! Sequel Villain!" So we're keeping our ears to the ground to bring you all the rumors and spoilers about the symbiote's return.

Is Venom 2 really happening?

Venom 2 is happening, which should come as no surprise. For Sony to not move forward with a sequel to Venom when superhero movies are — much to BIll Maher's disappointment — still killing it at the box office would mean leaving huge piles of cash on the table.

While we were pretty sure a sequel was coming, it wasn't always a lock. Before Sony confirmed Venom 2, Ruben Fleischer — director of Venom — said he didn't make the movie with any kind of sequel guarantees. Speaking to Metro USA, Fleischer said that, yes, he was "laying the groundwork" for sequel opportunities while making Venom, but that he wasn't focused on that while making the film. "I guess," he mused, "audiences will let us know if they want to see another installment."   

If the fact that Venom helped October 2018's ticket sales break records — or the huge success the film had in China, where it enjoyed an extended run in theaters — didn't make a sequel inevitable, then we're not sure what would.

What's the release date for Venom 2?

In November 2018, news broke that suggested Venom 2 was scheduled for October 2020. Variety reported that Sony had two 2020 release dates confirmed for its Marvel properties — one for July 10, and the other for October 2.

The July date, as expected, was being reserved for Sony's Morbius, starring Jared Leto, about another lethal anti-hero who started his comic book life as a Spider-Man villain. With few Sony/Marvel projects confirmed, Venom 2 was clearly good guess for the October date. It would mean Venom 2 would be released on the same month as its predecessor, and the anti-hero is a perfect fit for the Halloween season.

Of course, we know Sony is also in the process of making movies for Spidey villains Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio. Both movies are still in the early stages, but in August 2018 it was reported that Equalizer screenwriter Richard Wenk had signed on to write Kraven. There could be a surprise switch-up in Sony's slate (especially in the wake of their split from Marvel Studios on the Spider-Man franchise), but it seems almost certain that we'll get Venom 2 in October 2020.

Woody's back

If you were waiting for Woody Harrelson to show up in Venom, then you had to wait until the mid-credits for a brief scene. Presumably returning to his career as an investigative journalist, Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is summoned to San Quentin, where Harrelson's character — a serial killer who refuses to speak to anyone but Brock — waits in a cage for the reporter. Everything about the scene feels like the foundation for a sequel, and in May 2018, Harrelson confirmed he planned to show up in Venom 2.

While promoting Solo: A Star Wars Story, Harrelson spoke to Collider about what were, at the time, unconfirmed reports about his appearance in Venom. Harrelson said yes, he would appear "in a fraction" of Venom, but that he would be playing a larger role in the sequel. "So I haven't read the script [for Venom 2]," Harrelson said at the time, "but anyways, just rolled the dice."

There's gonna be Carnage

If you're a Marvel Comics fan, then the hints about Woody Harrelson's role in Venom's mid-credits scene weren't very subtle. No one in the scene refers to the character by name. The closest they get is when the prison guard leads Eddie Brock to Harrelson's cell and calls the prisoner "Red." That nickname, Harrelson's curly red wig, the fact that he's a serial killer, and his closing line ("There's gonna be carnage") point pretty hard to Marvel supervillain Cletus Kasady, a.k.a. Carnage.

In the comics, Venom's symbitoe species — the Klyntar — reproduce asexually, and Venom's own symbiote spawn had the horrible idea of bonding to serial killer Cletus Kasady. The result of a super powerful alien merging with an already prolific murderer had exactly the result you'd think it would. Carnage has proven to be one of Marvel's most popular villains. He was the Big Bad of the popular 1993 crossover event Maximum Carnage. He's enjoyed a number of his own one-shots, miniseries, and even regular monthly series. He's tougher than Venom and has a body count to rival the Joker's.

In April 2019 Venom 2 cinematographer Robert Richardson — surprising absolutely no one — confirmed Harrelson would be playing Carnage in the sequel. It's a fitting, exciting choice, particularly when you consider Harrelson's earlier work and the history of Cletus Kasady. Harrrelson first gained fame as a kind-hearted but intellectually slow bartender on NBC's Cheers, but one of his first prominent non-comic roles was as serial killer Mickey Knox in 1994's Natural Born Killers.

Venom will eat people in a family friendly way

Considering the nature of the character, it's surprising Venom didn't earn an R rating. According to producer Avi Arad, Venom won't be R either.

That may be even a bigger surprise with the likelihood of Carnage's involvement in the sequel. Cletus Kasady would be an R-rated villain even without the Carnage symbiote. When he's Carnage? The guy makes most serial killers look like Teletubbies in comparison. Assuming Carnage will be the villain of Venom 2, how do you make that movie PG-13 and remain faithful to the source material?

Arad told Collider he doesn't think you need an R rating to do Carnage justice. "It's not about what he does," Arad said, "because we never have to show the knife going from here to there." The Venom producer called Kasady a "tortured soul," and said that what's important in adapting Carnage is to make him "someone you can feel for."

Sympathetic villains certainly can be successful villains; the MCU's Loki and Thanos are proof of that. Venom also proves true what Arad says about not having to show "the knife going from here to there." We know Venom eats villains in the film, though we never actually see it on the screen. We'll see if the filmmakers can do likewise with Carnage. But if the comics are any indication? They're going to need to kill a lot of people offscreen. A lot

Venom vs. Spidey is 'inevitable'

To comic book purists, divorcing Venom's movie origin from Spider-Man may have been more painful than a symbiote being ripped from its host, but Venom director Ruben Fleischer seems fairly sure the two will collide onscreen eventually. 

Speaking to ScreenRant, Fleischer said, "I'd love to see [Venom] face off against Spider-Man at some point. It feels like that's inevitable." Fleischer went on to say he knew that both Tom Hardy and Tom Holland — who plays Spider-Man in Marvel Studios' films — were excited about the prospect, and that he didn't know whether or not that would mean Venom would or could become part of the MCU. 

If Fleischer feels a Venom/Spidey clash is "inevitable," could we see that happen in Venom 2? It's possible. The idea has enticing potential, especially if Carnage proves to be the sequel's villain. In the comics Spider-Man, Venom, and Carnage have always worked as an interesting trio of combatants, particularly with Venom sometimes flip-flopping between allies. It's enough to make you want to imagine that the sequel to Venom, instead of Venom 2, might be titled Venom: Maximum Carnage

Kelly's back

According to Variety, Sony plans to keep at least one of Venom's screenwriters for the sequel. The venerable trade's sources say Sony offered Kelly Marcel — who co-wrote 2018's Venom with Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg — a "significant" deal to continue her work for Venom 2. She'll also earn an executive producer credit, although there was no word in Variety's piece about any potential returns for Pinkner or Rosenberg.  

Marcel got her screenwriting start on the short-lived 2011 sci-fi series Terra Nova. Before Venom, her biggest screenwriting project was the popular erotic romance Fifty Shades of Grey, based on the E.L. James novel of the same name. Her upcoming projects include an as-yet-untitled Elvis Presley biopic and Cruella, a prequel about Cruella de Vil, the infamous villain of the 1961 animated film One Hundred and One Dalmations.

While reporting Marcel will be returning, Variety said another crucial Venom alum might not get the chance.

Symbiotes or zombies?

Considering Venom's record-breaking success, you'd think the director could name his own price to helm the sequel. But the same Variety article that leaked the return of screenwriter Kelly Marcel speculated that Venom director Ruben Fleischer wouldn't be able to direct Venom 2.

Fleischer directed 2009's post-apocalyptic comedy Zombieland. In July 2018 Sony confirmed the production of Zombieland 2 with returning stars Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Abigail Breslin — as well as Fleischer, who's set to direct the sequel. 

As Variety predicted, Fleischer's commitment to Zombieland 2 made it impossible for him to also direct Venom 2. It's regrettable that — since he appears in both sequels — Harrelson and Fleischer couldn't have just... carpooled or something.

Sony wants it, Marvel didn't

In May and June 2019, there were a lot of rumors about Tom Holland's Spider-Man and Tom Hardy's Venom crossing paths, including reports that the symbiote might find his way into Spider-Man 3

Roger Wardell — known for dropping MCU spoilers including revealing the so-called "Fat Thor" — tweeted at the end of May that Deadpool would not appear in Spider-Man 3 but that Sony "desperately" wanted Hardy's Venom to be in the film. Likewise, in the beginning of June, We Got This Covered reported that a Reddit user calling themselves "TheMarvelScoopMaster" wrote that a Venom/Spider-Man crossover "is what Sony wants... [Marvel Studios] won't bring him in." 

Later in June, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige spoke to Cinema Blend and said that a Venom/Spider-Man crossover was "up to Sony." Feige clarified that "Sony has both of those characters" and that he saw a Venom/Spidey crossover as "likely," but out of his hands.

At first it may seem that the various Spider-Man 3 rumors and Feige's quote contradict one another, but not necessarily. Wardell and TheMarvelScoopMaster are specifically talking about Sony wanting Venom to show up in an MCU film, whereas the crossover that Feige calls "likely" is a Venom/Spidey meeting in a Venom film. So if all parties are to be believed, then the conflict here seems to not be about whether Venom and Spidey will meet, but whether that meeting would make Venom a part of the MCU — now a moot point.

Hardy is confirmed and more on Venom/Spidey

In late June 2019 Fandango spoke to Amy Pascal, a producer who has worked on most of the Sony Spider-Man-related films that have come out since 2017, including Spider-Man: HomecomingFar From HomeSpider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Venom. For the first time, Pascal confirmed Tom Hardy would be reprising the role of Eddie Brock in Venom 2, "magnificently playing [Venom] as no one else can." Hardy's return was presumed, but Pascal's talk with Fandango was the first official word on that score.

Pascal also talked about the reports of an eventual Venom/Spider-Man crossover. At first the producer's answer seemed broad and noncommittal, saying simply "Everybody would love to see that. You never know someday... it might happen." Later, Pascal seemed less coy. Asked about Tom Holland's Spider-Man appearing in a Venom film, Pascal said, "We have big plans for Tom Holland to be a part of everything." But then the producer seemed to walk back what she said by framing it as part of a joke. Laughing, she said, "Every movie we ever do! [Tom Holland] needs to be in every movie that I ever work on!"

So there's nothing official, but if nothing else it's safe to assume that — whether he'll appear in Venom 2 or a subsequent Venom sequel — behind the scenes the possibility of Holland showing up in a Venom film has been discussed at Sony.

Andy Serkis will direct Venom 2

In late July 2019, there were rumblings that Andy Serkis was the frontrunner to direct Venom 2. Other reported candidates included Bumblebee director Travis Knight and Rupert Wyatt, best known as the director of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. By early August, the choice of Serkis to replace Ruben Fleischer as Venom 2's director was confirmedVariety first reported in January that Fleischer would be unable to return because of scheduling conflicts with the filming of Zombieland 2.

So far, Serkis only has a few directing credits under his belt, with his first being the 2017 love story Breathe — starring, fittingly enough, former Spider-Man Andrew Garfield. Of course, Serkis is best known for his motion capture work in various science fiction and fantasy films — including Gollum in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit adaptations, the titular beast of the 2005 King Kong remake, and the villainous Supreme Leader Snoke of the Star Wars sequel trilogy. You may also recognize him as the South African weapons dealer Ulysses S. Klaue, who loses his arm in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron and returns as one of the bad guys in 2018's Black Panther.  

Jon Watts thinks a Spidey/Venom crossover would be huge

Naturally, many fans wonder whether there ever will be a Spider-Man/Venom meeting on the big screen — though some question whether or not there should be such a crossover. For Jon Watts, director of both 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming and 2019's Spider-Man: Far from Home, there's no longer any question. He's behind the idea in a big way. 

Speaking to ComicBookMovie at the end of June 2019, Watts applauded the idea of a meeting between the characters. Asked if characters from what ComicBookMovie's Josh Wilding called  "two very different franchises" would make sense together, Watts didn't see a problem. 

Watts said, "I found Venom to be so funny and I thought Tom Hardy was so great, I don't know that [Spider-Man and Venom] are so different. I think you put those two Toms together and you're going to see something pretty special."

The Sony/Marvel split may mean an R-rated Venom

In October 2018, Venom producer Avi Arad told Collider that — in spite of the inclusion of the villain Carnage, who is a symbiote linked to a prolific serial killer — the sequel would likely be PG-13 just like its predecessor. However, when Marvel and Sony announced they were parting ways, some speculated that Sony would follow the example of Deadpool and Logan to make Venom 2 an R-rated superhero flick.  

Shortly after the Marvel/Sony news broke, Variety's Justin Kroll tweeted his guess that an R rating for the sequel was a possibility that "sticks out." Kroll implied that the main reason Venom was PG-13 was because Sony wanted to leave the possibility open of a crossover between future Venom flicks and the MCU. "Sony had considered an R-rating for VENOM," Kroll wrote, "but passed in fear cross-over chances would be hurt."

Even if we assume Kroll was correct about Sony keeping Venom and its sequel PG-13 for MCU crossover potential, his speculations could be meaningless considering Sony and Marvel have mended fences. But should Spider-Man exit the MCU before Sony's done making Venom movies, we could see the studio rethink things in the future.

Venom 2 finds its cinematographer

It's no secret that Venom's high profits weren't echoed in its critical reviews. Judging by the latest recruit to the sequel's creative team, the sequel might have a lot more appeal for serious cinephiles. 

Shortly after it was confirmed that Andy Serkis would direct Venom 2, news broke that award-winning cinematographer Robert Richardson would be joining the film as well. Richardson's work has won him three Academy Awards — for 1991's JFK, 2004's The Aviator, and 2011's Hugo — and he's been nominated a total of nine times. Richardson is a frequent collaborator with Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. His most recent Oscar nomination was for 2015's western bloodbath The Hateful Eight and he was Director of Cinematography for 2019's Once Upon a Time... in Hollywood

Venom 2 won't be the first time Serkis and Richardson have worked together. Richardson was Director of Cinematography for Serkis' directorial debut, 2017's Breathe

Hutch Parker tapped to produce Venom 2

In September 2019Collider reported Hutch Parker had been recruited as a producer for Venom 2. Parker has a lot of superhero film work under his belt, specifically with Marvel properties not attached to Marvel Studios, starting with 2013's The Wolverine

At LRMonline, Kyle Malone seems unimpressed with Parker's work history — correctly pointing out that Parker has been part of the production teams of some true stinkers like the disastrous 2015 Fantastic Four reboot, 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse, and 2019's Dark Phoenix

Still, we have to give credit where credit's due. Along with more critically and commercially successful comic book adaptations like The Wolverine and 2014's X-Men: Days of Future Past, Parker was also a producer on 2017's Loganwhich earned a spot on any worthy list of best superhero movies. So we're willing to wait until Venom 2 hits theaters before we make a judgment. 

Venom 2 filming begins

In September 2019, reports surfaced that Venom 2 would begin filming that November in London. Sources disagreed on the precise date, with some naming November 18 and others saying November 25. Regardless, production began under the working title Fillmore

In February 2020, a since-deleted Instagram post by Tom Hardy was posted on Reddit, seeming to indicate Venom 2 had wrapped filming. The accompanying photo showed cast and crew around a sign bearing the name Fillmore. Hardy captioned the picture with "V2 wrap" along with some emojis. 

In spite of the photo, ScreenGeek reported that there was still filming to be done in San Francisco, which makes sense considering that's the first film's setting. While we don't know yet if all or most of Venom 2 will likewise be set in San Francisco, considering that's where Venom ends and where Cletus Kasady is imprisoned in the first film's post-credits scene, it seems clear at least some of the story would need to take place there. 

A new villain will be heard for Venom 2

October 2019 brought news that Woody Harrelson's Carnage wouldn't be the only villain the titular antihero would be facing in Venom 2. According to the reports, the sonic/psychic villain Shriek will give Venom an extra problem to deal with in the sequel. 

The mentally unstable Shriek is a fitting addition to the cast, and it won't be the first time she's been portrayed as Carnage's ally. She was one of the villains who worked at Carnage's side in the popular 1993 Marvel Comics event Maximum Carnage. She aids him again in the 2010 Carnage miniseries and in 2014's Deadpool vs. Carnage. She returns to his side in the 2019-20 event Absolute Carnage as a member of the symbiote's Church of New Darkness. She even sacrifices her life for his goals in Absolute Carnage: Lethal Protectors #1.

Considering the abilities of all the super-powered characters we saw in Venom were related to symbiotes, it will be interesting to see how Shriek's powers manifest in Venom 2. While she did once become a symbiote villain — Scorn, in the Carnage miniseries — in the comics her sonic and psychic powers are the result of an encounter with the hero Cloak and have nothing to do with symbiotes. 

Naomie Harris may be Shriek in Venom 2

A few days after the reports surfaced that the villain Shriek would appear in Venom 2Deadline reported English actress Naomie Harris was in talks for the role. 

A few days later, Harris — who is perhaps best known as Selena in 2002's 28 Days Later and as Moneypenny in Daniel Craig's James Bond films — confirmed she was negotiating to join the cast of Venom 2. Speaking to Black Film while promoting the thriller Black and Blue, Harris seemed excited about the prospect of working with Andy Serkis and Woody Harrelson but clarified, "I would love to be part of it all, but we're in discussions so nothing is firmed up yet." 

She also hinted that Shriek was who she was negotiating to play, if not another villainous character. When the interviewer pointed out that Harris tends to play characters who are on the more heroic side, Harris responded, "Exactly! So let's, like, switch things up, you know? Keep people on their toes a bit."

Tom Hardy is an Instagram tease

A couple of times during the filming of Venom 2, Tom Hardy has posted pictures to his Instagram only for them to get deleted soon after. That they were deleted at all is interesting, as the photos didn't exactly reveal a whole lot about the story. 

In November 2019 Hardy posted a selfie, appearing to be in a make up chair with (presumably) a makeup artist by his side. The photo was captioned with "W3R'V3N0M2 day one." The second shot featured Hardy's adorable French bulldog Blu. Both posts were deleted and later replaced. One replacement once again featured Blu and a set security pass made for the doggo listing him as an "On Set Dog" and "Producer of Massive Turds." The other was a drawing of a raven with Venom and Carnage depicted as the bird's two halves. 

In February 2020 it happened again, when Hardy posted what appears to be a shot of cast and crew gathered around a sign with Venom 2's working title — Fillmore — and captioned with "V2 Wrap." Like the November posts, this last one was deleted, but not before eagle-eyed Redditors grabbed a screenshot. 

Tom Holland is rumored to have discussed a Venom 2 cameo

In December 2019, Geeks WorldWide claimed to have gotten their hands on a casting breakdown which revealed that Tom Holland was in talks to appear in a cameo in Venom 2. The site was careful to point out that "negotiations are still going on and it is possible a deal may not be made." In other words, whether or not the site's report is even true, it still doesn't mean Holland will ultimately appear in the sequel. 

Geeks WorldWide also writes that if Holland does show up, that would not necessarily make the Venom films part of the MCU. It could be that Holland's potential appearance in Venom 2 could be as another version of the character — just as the Tom Holland Spidey isn't the same as the characters played by Andrew Garfield or Toby Maguire. Or, perhaps more accurately, just like J.K. Simmons plays two different versions of J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man films and the MCU's Spider-Man: Far from Home

A Venom 2 photo may reveal a Spider-Man Easter egg

In February 2020, We Got This Covered posted a photo which could be a sign that, at the very least, Spider-Man will be referenced in Venom 2.

Claiming the photo is from the set of Venom 2WGTC posted a shot that includes what appears to be a passing city bus. On the side of the bus is an ad reading "WHERE IS SPIDER-MAN?" Considering how things end in 2019's Spider-Man: Far from Home — with J. Jonah Jameson outing Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a mid-credits scene — this could be a sign that Spidey is on the run in the wake of being unmasked. 

It could also be a sign that the setting for the second Venom film has moved out of San Francisco. Spider-Man mostly operates in New York City. Why would ads seeking to locate him be on buses in San Francisco? Could it be Venom 2 will leave the west coast? All speculation aside, we would feel remiss for not pointing out WGTC doesn't include a credit for the set photo or give any indication how it was acquired.  

Set photos reveal Cletus Kasady's new hairdo for Venom 2

In February 2020, a couple of photos from the set of Venom 2 popped up showing Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady. 

In the post-credits scene of Venom when we first meet Harrelson's version of Kasady, he's wearing a pretty crazy Carrot-Top-esque red wig. Clearly, the filmmakers have decided on a different look for the villain in the sequel. We got our first look at the new hairdo when Tom Hardy posted a shot of Harrelson to his Instagram — which was promptly deleted — captioned with "Hello Cletus." Harrelson's hair is mostly in shadow in the shot, but it's clear he's no longer wearing the out-of-control wig from Venom.

A week later we got a much better look at the big screen Cletus. Just Jared posted a series of set photos of Harrelson as Cletus, including some shots of Harrelson talking to director Andy Serkis. In the shots, Harrelson's hair is combed forward and shaved on the sides and in the back. As a bonus, there are a number of photos with Tom Hardy and an unidentified stuntman suspended in front of what appears to be a patch of green screen. 

A Venom 2 set video may hint at Kasady's transformation into Carnage

In February 2020, Instagram user venomiscoming posted a video from the set of Venom 2 that appears to show the filming of a scene in which Cletus Kasady transforms into Carnage. 

The video isn't very long and the image isn't very clear, but we see what appears to be Woody Harrelson in costume — wearing similar clothes to what he's wearing in other set photos — standing behind a car. A man with a gun, possibly a police detective, orders him to put his hands over his head. Harrelson does raise his hands, but moves them strangely and the gunman opens fire. 

If it is a police detective, then the possibility that effects will be added later showing Carnage emerging would be the obvious answer to why the policeman opens fire as soon as Harrelson responds. Either that, or he's a really trigger-happy cop.