Venom: Let There Be Carnage may look like it’s singularly focused on Venom and Carnage’s feud from the outside — but take a closer look at the film’s final tease and you’ll find that it’s secretly a big screen family affair.
Taking a hint from Venom’s late-act Carnage reveal via Woody Harrelson’s take on Cletus Kasady, the sequel sneakily debuts a very special new symbiote before the credits roll.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Venom: Let There Be Carnage.]
In his final scene, actor Stephen Graham shows off the glowing blue eyes of seemingly possessed police officer Pat Mulligan. Mulligan just so happens to share his name with the first host of the Toxin symbiote in Marvel’s numerous Venom spinoff comics.
Who is Toxin and what does this have to do with Carnage? Well, as with all of the best Venom stories, it’s a comically convoluted but fun yarn about weird alien pregnancy, jealousy, and a lot of slime.
A four-issue miniseries, 2004’s Venom Vs. Carnage from writer Peter Milligan and artist Clayton Crain introduced readers to a “pregnant” Carnage who was preparing to spawn a symbiote child, one of a truly unmanageable number of different symbiote offshoots born in Marvel comics over the years.
In much the same way the Venom symbiote and its host, Eddie Brock, initially spawned Carnage (and the other symbiote characters who inspired the Life Foundation symbiotes in 2019’s Venom) Carnage’s pregnancy is part of an asexual process where a symbiote produces a child as a response to panic or threat.
Symbiote children tend to be stronger than their parents, and Kasady and Carnage were incensed at the idea of anyone usurping their place. So they set out together to put an end to their goo-kid before it got a chance, followed throughout the series by a more sympathetic Venom who initially believed that Toxin could be a powerful ally.
Enter police officer Pat Mulligan who, in the series’ first issue, became an unwitting host for Carnage’s child after the parent Symbiote made a risky play to plant Toxin — so named by Venom — somewhere out of the way until an increasingly sick Cletus had recovered enough to come back and destroy it.
Risky indeed, as Toxin grew terrifyingly powerful inside Mulligan, surpassing Venom and Carnage in both strength and general gooeyness! Toxin had all of their symbiote powers and a number of extras, including fangs, toxic claws, and the ability to uncannily sense its enemies across the entire NYC metropolitan area. Brock had to ask Cletus for a temporary truce so they could mutually address the growing threat to their lives.
Making friends of its own, however, Toxin got backup from Black Cat and Spider-Man (these things always come back to Peter Parker) in a winning debut against their parent and grandparent. In the series’ finale, Mulligan and Toxin set off for a life of their own, leaving Mulligan’s wife and newborn child behind to keep them safe.
From there, Mulligan and Toxin would share a semi-storied career — including a self-titled solo series exploring Toxin’s rare allyship with Spider-Man, its inability to live on its own like Venom and Carnage can, and its molding from childhood under Mulligan’s rules to never commit homicide, arson, or theft. Eventually, Eddie Brock even became a temporary host of the Toxin Symbiote after Mulligan’s untimely death.
All good fodder for the inevitable Let There Be Carnage sequel — but only if director Andy Serkis wants to get really weird with it.