Carnage is one of Spider-Man’s most powerful, most terrifying adversaries. Since his first full appearance in The Amazing Spider-Man #361, Carnage has popped up to terrorize Spider-Man and his loved ones on numerous occasions, including in comic events such as Maximum Carnage and in several video games from the early aughts. But who is this villain? And why is his inclusion in the forthcoming Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage such a big deal for so many people? Let’s dive in and figure that out!
WHO’S RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS CHARACTER?
Created by writer David Michelinie and artist Erik Larsen (with Mark Bagley co-credited with the character’s creation) in the early 1990s, Carnage/Cletus Kasady quickly became a villain for both Venom/Eddie Brock and for Spider-Man. Like Eddie Brock, Cletus Kasady becomes possessed by an alien symbiote and is warped into Carnage. Unlike Eddie Brock, though, Kasady is a ruthless serial killer whose transformation into the villain only serves to turn him into a more efficient killing machine. Originally, the folks over at Marvel considered calling him “Chaos,” then wanted to call him “Ravage,” then eventually went with Carnage, which ended up sticking.
Even more unsettling is the fact that while the Carnage symbiote is technically an offspring of the bigger, bulkier Venom, he is leaner, faster, much more powerful and even more sadistic. Kasady’s homicidal tendencies intensify after he becomes Carnage’s host. So yeah, he is not a villain you want to underestimate. Luckily, most recognize that they are outclassed by what Cletus Kasady has become and work hard to steer clear of him, lest he tear them to shreds. Smart move.
WHO ELSE HAS BEEN CARNAGE?
Despite the fact that he is undoubtedly the most famous and most feared of the lot, Cletus Kasady is not the only person to serve as Carnage’s host. Ben Reilly attempted to stop the character’s killing spree by allowing the symbiote to possess him, becoming Spider-Carnage, but was ultimately unsuccessful in destroying the resilient glob of alien goo.
Much more recently in the comics, mad scientist/super criminal Karl Malus became Superior Carnage, taking on the role of the symbiote’s host after Cletus Kasady is lobotomized. Even more recently than that, though, was Norman Osborn’s transformation into the Red Goblin during writer Dan Slott’s recent Spider-Man run.
Other Carnage hosts include J. Jonah Jameson’s son, John Jameson, as well as Carnage Cosmic (Norrin Radd), Tanis Nevies, Wizard (Bentley Wittman), and Carla Unger.
CARNAGE IN OTHER MEDIA
While Carnage is appearing in live-action for the first time in Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage, he has been featured across different forms of media for years now. Not only that, but he was teased at the end of 2018’s Venom solo film.
In animation, he showed up in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, where he was voiced by Scott Cleverdon. He also makes appearances in Spider-Man: Unlimited, and in the popular Ultimate Spider-Man animated series. Carnage even briefly possesses the Mad Titan Thanos in the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series. Personally, I think animation is the best place to explore and depict Carnage as a character because you are not bound by the constraints of live-action. He is a character who works incredibly well in animation and video games, but who knows? Maybe Woody Harrelson will end up wowing us and become our new favorite iteration of the infamous supervillain.
In video games, Carnage has been somewhat of a favorite for game designers. He is often showcased as a pretty difficult character to beat, which tracks considering how formidable he is in the comics. Cletus Kasady often appeared as a boss in the various Spidey games released over the years, including 1992’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man/X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge, The Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes, Spider-Man and Venom: Maximum Carnage, and Venom/Spider-Man: Separation Anxiety.
WHERE WILL CARNAGE SHOW UP NEXT?
As many already know, the Cletus Kasady version of Carnage will be played by Woody Harrelson, who is picking up where his cameo role left off in the 2018 film Venom. You can catch the character in all his terrifying glory in Venom 2: Let There Be Carnage, which is currently scheduled to hit theaters on September 24, 2021. Hopefully, the ongoing pandemic does not delay it again, because we are stoked to see Venom 2 debut on the big screen.
As far as where Carnage fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe…he doesn’t. Not yet, at least. And he does not appear to be a part of Kevin Feige’s plans going forward. Maybe that will change down the line, but it would only be a thing if Marvel and Disney are able to strike a deal with Sony. For now, we will have to be content with seeing him in a standalone Venomverse. But honestly, judging from how great he looks in that new trailer released yesterday, it really is not such a bad thing.