From the outside, Venom: Let There Be Carnage appears to be solely focused on Venom and Carnage’s feud — but a closer look at the film’s final tease reveals that it’s actually a big-screen family affair.
The sequel sneakily debuts a very special new symbiote before the credits roll, taking a cue from Venom’s late-act Carnage reveal via Woody Harrelson’s take on Cletus Kasady.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Venom: Let There Be Carnage.]Actor Stephen Graham displays the glowing blue eyes of seemingly possessed police officer Pat Mulligan in his final scene. Mulligan happens to have the same name as the first host of the Toxin symbiote in Marvel’s Venom spinoff comics.
What is Toxin, and how does he relate to Carnage? It’s a comically convoluted but fun yarn about weird alien pregnancy, jealousy, and a lot of slimes, as with all of the best Venom stories.
Venom Vs. Carnage, a four-issue miniseries from writer Peter Milligan and artist Clayton Crain released in 2004, introduced readers to a “pregnant” Carnage who was about to spawn a symbiote child, one of a truly unmanageable number of symbiote offshoots born in Marvel comics over the years.
Carnage’s pregnancy is part of an asexual process in which a symbiote produces a child in response to panic or threat, similar to how the Venom symbiote and its host, Eddie Brock, first spawned Carnage (and the other symbiote characters who inspired the Life Foundation symbiotes in 2019’s Venom). Kasady and Carnage were furious at the prospect of someone taking their place, as symbiote children are typically stronger than their parents. So they set out together to put an end to their goo-kid before it had a chance, followed by a more sympathetic Venom who thought Toxin could be a powerful ally early on in the series.
In the first issue of the series, police officer Pat Mulligan became an unwitting host for Carnage’s child after the parent Symbiote took a risky gamble by planting Toxin — so named by Venom — somewhere out of the way until an increasingly sick Cletus recovered enough to return and destroy it.
Toxin grew terrifyingly powerful inside Mulligan, outperforming both Venom and Carnage in terms of strength and general gooeyness! Toxin possessed all of their symbiote abilities as well as a few extras, such as fangs, toxic claws, and the uncanny ability to sense its enemies across the entire NYC metropolitan area. Brock had no choice but to ask Cletus for a temporary cease-fire so that they could both deal with the growing threat to their lives.
In a triumphant debut against their parent and grandparent, Toxin enlisted the help of Black Cat and Spider-Man (these things always come back to Peter Parker). Mulligan and Toxin set off on their own in the series finale, leaving Mulligan’s wife and newborn child behind to keep them safe.
Mulligan and Toxin would go on to have a semi-storied career together, including a self-titled solo series that explored Toxin’s rare allyship with Spider-Man, its inability to live on its own like Venom and Carnage, and its childhood conditioning to never commit homicide, arson, or theft under Mulligan’s rules. After Mulligan’s untimely death, Eddie Brock became a temporary host of the Toxin Symbiote. All good fodder for the inevitable Let There Be Carnage sequel — but only if director Andy Serkis wants to get really weird with it.