The Neglected Nemeses: Carnage
In the last installment of Neglected Nemeses, I highlighted one of Spider-Man’s most popular foes in Venom. For some time now, Sony has toyed with the idea of a spin-off centered on the violent rogue and there is really only one villain that would work and would be accepted by fans and that is none other than Carnage. Carnage, also known as Cletus Kasady, is the result of a serial killer and symbiote melding, creating one of Spider-Man’s most dangerous and insane rogues. Often times needing to recruit help from other heroes and even former foes to end the reign of terror being brought on by Carnage. In 2009, the character was named as the 90th greatest comic book villain of all time by IGN.
Born into a troubled home, Cletus Kasady did not have an easy life. At a young age, Cletus tortured his mother’s dog and killed his grandmother by pushing her down a flight of stairs. Having learned of this, his mother made an attempt at killing her own son, but was stopped by his father, who proceeded to beat his mother to the brink of death. While on trial for the crime, Cletus offered no defense for his father who was later sent to the electric chair. Kasady was then sent to an orphanage where his troubles continued. Having displayed antisocial behavior, he became a target for abuse by other orphans as well as the staff. To gain revenge, Cletus murdered the disciplinarian of the orphanage and pushed a fellow orphan into the path of a bus. Finally, he burned down the orphanage to complete the task. It was here at the St. Estes Orphanage that Kasady adopted the theory that life was “meaningless and futile,” and that laws are only words. From then on, Kasady opted for a life full of crime and chaos: the ultimate freedom.
Later in life, Cletus murders many people, garnering him the title of serial killer. Once captured, he is sent to Ryker’s Island Prison, where he shares a cell with Eddie Brock, who at the time had lost the alien symbiote known as Venom. While there, the symbiote returns to Brock to bond with him and in the process, an offspring is left behind unknowingly. The symbiotic offspring finds itself into the bloodstream of Kasady. On a side note, symbiotes reproduce asexually, and when a “child” is left behind, it is of no consequence to the parent. So, when this happened with the Carnage symbiote, there was no need for the symbiote to inform Brock of the occurrence. Being that the symbiote entered the bloodstream of Kasady, he refers to himself as “I,” rather than “We” like Venom does. Once the bonding process is complete, Carnage escapes from prison and goes off on a killing spree and at the scene of each crime, he writes the word “Carnage” on a wall using his own blood. Once Spider-Man tracks him down, he proves no match for the new mad villain and he is forced to make a truce with Venom in order to bring Carnage to a stop. He is defeated with sonic weaponry, but the symbiote does not die, due to it being in the bloodstream of Kasady.
In the Maximum Carnage story line, Kasady is once again imprisoned, but this time it is in The Vault, formerly the Ravencroft Institute, a facility for super-human criminally insane which will be featured in the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In an attempt to cure him of his madness, a doctor draws the blood of Kasady and unwittingly allows Cletus to morph into Carnage. From here, Carnage recruits the help of other “residents” of The Vault, including Shriek, Demigoblin, Carrion and Doppleganger to over-take New York City, using Shriek’s powers to turn the citizens of the city against one another. This forced Spider-Man, along with Venom and other superheroes to band together to put a stop to the terror. Carnage and Shriek are once again sent to the Ravencroft Institute.
The Carnage symbiote has attempted several times to attach itself to another host. The first time, the symbiote attached itself to John Jameson, the chief of the Ravencroft Institute. From there it transferred itself to Ben Riley, Peter Parker’s clone who was Spider-Man at the time, thus creating Spider-Carnage. However, Riley’s will power held out against the negative and violent energy and he was able to return it to Kasady at Ravencroft. Soon after, during the Cosmic Carnage arc, its next attempted victim was the Silver Surfer. But, together with Spider-Man, the Surfer was able to defeat the symbiote and return it to Kasady and seal him in an unbreakable prison to “think about what he’d done” for eternity. Venom tracked this prison down and reabsorbed the Carnage symbiote back into himself, ending Carnage “for good.” Kasady, however, carried on the Carnage name and donned red paint, continuing his killing sprees, claiming he retained some of the symbiote’s power. Needless to say, Spider-Man defeated him easily. Kasady soon finds yet another symbiote that had been kept in the Negative Zone, creating the second Carnage.
The Carnage symbiote reproduced and attached itself to Patrick Mulligan, a police officer and new father, creating Toxin, who single-handedly overpowered both Venom and Carnage. Mulligan, however, was determined to use this power for good, modeling himself after Spider-Man. In order to protect his wife and new son, he left them behind.
Carnage was thought to have been killed during the New Avengers, when Sentry flew him outside of Earth’s atmosphere and tore him in two. However, Iron Man’s computer learned that Cletus Kasady was not inside the symbiote during the incident. The symbiote actually preserved itself by going dormant and returned to Earth. Shriek and Doppleganger, with the assistance of Michael Hall, a rival of Tony Stark, used the properties of the symbiote to create prosthetic limbs and exo-suits that respond in the same manner as the symbiote would.
Dr. Tanis Nieves is outfitted with one of these prosthetic arms after she is caught in an attack by the Doppelganger. When near the symbiote, her arm goes wild and forces her to kill several scientists before the symbiote forcefully bonds to her, becoming the new Carnage. After the symbiote uses Tanis to break into a Hall Corporation facility, it is revealed that Cletus Kasady is alive, his body having been preserved by the symbiote and repaired by Hall’s prosthetics.
Kasady then reclaims the symbiote once again and returns as Carnage. Spider-Man and Iron Man battle the very vengeful Carnage and learn that the symbiote has produced another offspring, which attaches itself to Shriek at first and then moves on to Tanis, which forms the new hero Scorn. Carnage slips away with Doppleganger after Shriek is defeated by Scorn, and vows a bloody and angry comeback.
After Venom was forced onto film in Spider-Man 3, many fans are hesitant to see Venom on film once again, let alone Carnage. But with Sony opting to reboot the franchise recently, this may be the opportunity to reintroduce the Venom character and eventually Carnage, being that the two are so closely connected, I don’t think you can do one without the other. These characters are not a pair I’d want to see happen right away, however. They could easily provide for a climactic ending to a series, possibly the final two or even 3 films of the series. My only concern is whether Sony would want to set 3 films aside for these two villains, but in a sense, they did that with the Green Goblin and his son in the previous three films. That aside, Carnage could provide viewers with a rather dark villain and take the Spider-Man character in a direction that even Venom could not do. From the looks and sounds of things, Marc Webb and Sony seem to be headed in that direction, so why not take things further down that path and bring out a villain that many fans would love to see on screen? Whether it happens in the current Spider-Man film series, which looks to be headed do the path of the Sinister-Six, or in the long-gestating Venom spin-off, Carnage is a character that would be a dark and ambitious undertaking that has huge potential.
If you’ll remember, I’d opted to cast young, up-and-comer Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy) to take on the role of Eddie Brock/Venom. In order to keep with the same generation of actors, I look to a rising star from a hugely popular television series in Viking’s Travis Fimmel. The model-turned-actor has made quite the name for himself in a short time and will likely have a great career ahead of him. In the hit History Channel series, Fimmel play the rebellious and menacing viking Ragnar Lothbrok, a character that is quite confident and heroic, but quite mysterious and dark at the same time. Looking at the included image of him, he certainly has a look that could pass for a psychotic serial killer. He’s a bit older than Hedlund and Garfield, but I think that works in his favor. Here’s to hoping Josh Trank’s take on Venom finds its way to filming and we can see the two symbiotes battle it out on the big screen.
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