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Tom Hardy teases Venom vs. Carnage with cool artwork

Get ready for a tragicomic clash of the symbiotes.

Venom star Tom Hardy recently took to Instagram to post cool fan art based on the classic tragedy/comedy masks of Greek theater. These are no ordinary masks, though — they're a heck of a lot more tongue-y than the ones we're used to.

Hardy clearly relishes playing the iconic Marvel villain and regular Spider-Man nemesis, and the artwork makes reference to Venom's post-credits scene, which indicated that the antihero will have his hands full in his second outing. In the scene, we were introduced to serial killer Cletus Kasady (the great Woody Harrelson), whom Hardy's Eddie Brock was visiting in prison in the course of his duties as an investigative reporter. After a brief and creepy round of niceties, Kasady makes a statement that's equal parts threat and promise. "When I get out of here, and I will," he says, "there's gonna be carnage." 

Now, to be clear, Kasady was never named in this scene — but it wasn't necessary, because every comics fan in the theater knew who they were looking at. Brock may be a bit morally conflicted, but Kasady — created by Marvel writer David Michelinie and artist Erik Larsen — answered the unnerving question of what would happen if a symbiote were to take control of a truly evil person: Carnage, a being so unbelievably malevolent and dangerous that in the comics, Spidey and Venom have been forced to team up on multiple occasions to stop him. Harrelson's return to take on the villainous mantle in Venom 2 was confirmed earlier this year, and it's plain that Hardy is pumped for fans to witness the epic throwdown that's sure to result.

Hardy captioned the image, "W3'R'V3N0M2" — which, interestingly, could either be read as "We are Venom 2," or "We are Venom, too." In the comics, Kasady's symbiote was the spawn of Venom (symbiotes reproduce asexually), so there could be some interesting subtext there.

At any rate, fans may be expecting... well, carnage, and there's been widespread speculation that Venom 2 will carry an R rating, all the better to really cut the character of Kasady loose. According to producer Avi Arad, however, this will not be the case.

Speaking to Collider last year, Arad said, "When you hear Carnage, the only thing you can think of is R. But, if you know his story, if you really know the comic, there's no R here. He's a tortured soul. It's not about what he does, because we never have to show the knife going from here to there, and the blood is pouring. What you have to show is, what is the motivation? Was he born like that, or [is he] someone we should feel for? Because if you succeeding in making a villain someone you can feel for, jackpot."

Well, Arad seems to be talking about a bit of a different take on the character, because from what we recall, Kasady wasn't so much tortured as he was the guy doing the torturing. But if Venom 2 indeed carries the same PG-13 rating as its predecessor, this opens the door to another question — especially in light of the recent breakup and reconciliation between Sony Pictures and Disney, the parent company of Marvel Studios.

Will Spider-Man play a role in Venom 2?

There has been endless speculation about whether Hardy's Venom and Tom Holland's Spider-Man, who has appeared in three Marvel Studios pictures and two Sony-produced, MCU-set solo vehicles, will ever meet onscreen. This speculation has been driven by the fact that both actors seem quite psyched about the prospect, and a number of involved parties have teased that it's not only possible, but inevitable.

Before the Sony/Disney kerfuffle, no less an authority than Marvel Studios head honcho Kevin Feige said that a crossover "seems likely at some point," while making clear that in his mind, that ball was firmly in Sony's court. After the release of this summer's mega-hit Spider-Man: Far From Home, the film's director Jon Watts tole ComicBookMovie.com that, creatively speaking, he saw no reason why the comic book nemeses couldn't meet up on the big screen at some point.

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

That is certainly something that everyone can agree on, and while the two stars have in the past expressed a general interest in working together, neither have had anything to say about whether a Spidey/Venom collision is officially in the works. For Hardy's part, though, he couldn't help but throw a bit of gasoline on that flame with a photo of himself dressed... well, rather provocatively, which he posted to and then deleted from his Instagram account last month.

Well, either Hardy knows something we don't, or he simply enjoys screwing with fans from time to time. For the time being, though, we're going to have to go with the latter; Holland's Spider-Man has only been confirmed to be appearing in one more Sony-produced solo flick and an additional Marvel Studios film at this time, and it's been reported that Venom 2 begins shooting this month with director Andy Serkis at the helm.

Whether Spidey makes an appearance or not, though, we're pumped to see Hardy's antihero face off with one of the deadliest foes in the annals of Marvel comics. Sony has not yet announced a release date for Venom 2, but the flick is expected to drop right around this time next year; we'll keep our ears to the ground for details, and keep you informed.