Unlike a lot of comic book movies these days, Venom is surprisingly light on Easter eggs. But those that were included definitely provided a good deal of fan service and set-up for potential sequels.
So — SPOILER WARNING — let’s break down the Easter eggs, cameos and references that were in Venom, starting with the biggest one of all …
The mid-credits scene shows Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) back in action as a working reporter after defeating the Life Foundation. He visits San Quentin State Prison to interview an inmate, an interview requested by the killer himself.
There, inside a cell within the cell, is the dangerous and deranged Cletus Kasady, portrayed by Woody Harrelson, who wears a curly red wig in a nod to his character’s look in the Marvel comics. Cletus has written “Welcome Eddie” in his own blood on the wall.
Cletus, his intense gaze locked on Eddie, vows that when he escapes prison “there’s gonna be carnage.” Because he becomes the Venom villain Carnage, get it?!
In the comics, sadistic career criminal and killer Cletus Kasady bonds with a symbiote and becomes the savage, monstrous, and red-hued Carnage, an almost unstoppable force of destruction. He’s basically a bigger, badder version of Venom. Venom’s hatred of Carnage was great enough to turn this one-time Spider-Man villain into an antihero.
“We’d like to think that this movie will expand to other movies,” Venom director Ruben Fleischer told IGN. “The intention or the ambition [with this cameo] was to show that there are legs for the franchise in that a fan favorite — let alone played by Woody Harrelson — would be something we could look forward to in the future.”
While we never see Carnage itself in the movie, Venom did include appearances by other symbiotes from the comics, including this notable surprise …
At one point in Venom, the symbiote —which was separated from Eddie by an MRI — bonds with Eddie’s ex-fiancée Anne Weying in order to stop Life Foundation goons from executing him. Anne transforms into She-Venom, slaughters the bad guys and saves Eddie, even giving him a big, sloppy symbiote smooch in order to transfer the alien back into him.
Venom director Ruben Fleischer told IGN the prospect of playing dual roles helped convince Michelle Williams to sign on to the film. “I think for Michelle that was part of the draw for her playing this role…. not just to play Anne Weying, [but] that she knew that it had the potential to be She-Venom,” Fleischer said. The director added that bringing back She-Venom down the line “would be fun to explore within the body of a Venom movie and then there’s also the possibility of, who knows, a She-Venom standalone movie.”
In the comics, Anne Weying was Eddie Brock’s ex-wife, a lawyer who gets caught up in Venom and Spider-Man’s ongoing battle. At one point, she’s shot by the villain Sin-Eater and Eddie’s symbiote bonds with her in order to heal her. She transforms into She-Venom and brutally murders the bad guys, which shocks her when she reverts back to human form. Anne becomes She-Venom again later on and uses the symbiote to heal an injured Eddie. Sadly, the comics’ version of Anne Weying is ultimately a tragic character, having been so traumatized by her Venom experiences that she commits suicide. We doubt any potential Venom sequel would go to such a dark place but we’ll have to wait and see.
The Venom movie begins with the Life Foundation’s space shuttle crash-landing during its return to Earth. One of the astronauts killed is named Jameson, who Venom director Ruben Fleischer confirmed to IGN is indeed the Marvel Comics character Colonel John Jameson. Fleischer told us, “We tried to weave in little things here and there and that just felt like an easy fan acknowledgment, like if you’re gonna have an astronaut he should be J. Jonah Jameson III.”
The son of Spider-Man antagonist and Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, John Jameson debuted in The Amazing Spider-Man #1 back in 1963. Since then, he’s carved out quite an odd place for himself in Marvel Comics beyond just being his father’s son.
Jameson is undoubtedly best remembered for his stint as Man-Wolf, who he transformed into a decade after his debut. A mysterious gemstone he found on the moon changed astronaut John Jameson into this super-powered lycanthrope. He would later discover that the powers of this lunar artifact stemmed from the cosmic being Stargod, and Jameson even assumed that mantle during a spell in The Other Realm.
In the ’90s animated Spider-Man series, John Jameson played a very similar role as he did in this movie. There, he was one of the astronauts who discovered the symbiote in space before they got out and caused the shuttle to crash land on Earth.
And in the comics, John Jameson was also once a host for the symbiote Carnage. During his time as the security chief for the Ravencroft Institute, Jameson was briefly possessed by the Carnage symbiote in Amazing Spider-Man #410. It didn’t amount to much but, hey, he was once a symbiote host, so it counts.
Venom isn’t even John Jameson’s first time appearing on the big screen. The character previously appeared in Spider-Man 2, played by actor Daniel Gillies, where he was a heroic astronaut left at the altar by Mary Jane Watson, who ditched him at the last moment for Peter Parker. And you thought Man-Wolf was a dog!
The Daily Globe
This fictitious newspaper gets name-checked in the Venom movie. In the Marvel Comics, the Daily Globe is the crosstown rival of the Daily Bugle. Eddie Brock was one of the Globe’s star columnists until his series on the Sin-Eater murders culminated in Spider-Man exposing his key source as a fraud by catching the real killer. Brock lost his career and blamed Spidey for his woes rather than his own poor judgment. Later, Brock sought to avenge himself on Spidey after he bonded with the symbiote Venom.
In the Venom movie, Eddie’s fiancee Anne warns him over dinner that he doesn’t want to suffer “a repeat of the Daily Globe incident” when he interviews Life Foundation founder Carlton Drake, reminding Eddie that he’d previously been “run out of New York” due to his methods. Eddie counters that he was “going places” in New York and that he really moved to San Francisco for her. Needless to say, Eddie proceeds to do precisely what Anne warned him against, which costs him both his relationship and career after he ambushes the crooked Drake during his interview.
While he didn’t create Venom, this movie continues the long tradition of Spider-Man co-creator and Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee making cameos in movies based on Marvel characters. Here, Lee plays a senior citizen walking his dog who pauses to give Eddie some relationship advice after observing him with Anne.
This isn’t Stan the Man’s first cameo in a Venom-related movie, mind you. Lee also chatted up Tobey Maguire’s Peter Parker in Spider-Man 3, which co-starred Topher Grace as Eddie Brock/Venom. I guess one person can make a difference …’nuff said.
Those are all the Easter eggs, cameos and references we caught in Venom. Let us know in the comments if you think we missed any!
For more on Venom, check out our movie review, our breakdown of the film’s ending and credits scenes, and find out what director Ruben Fleischer told us about Tom Holland’s Spider-Man not being in the movie and saving Carnage for Venom 2.