Venom: Let There Be Carnage has come out to the boos of critics and the applause of the general public. The Playlist’s Rodrigo Perez described it as a ‘noisy, anarchic CGI-laden weaboo porn tentacle fest.’ His negative sentiments were not shared by the numerous queer Venom fans on TikTok who were delighted that the Venom films reflected the queer chaos of the comics. Critics have continued to slam the film, citing valid critiques such as the overuse of CGI while ignoring the actual history of Venom comics and often misunderstanding the goal of this film.
Because this Venom sequel is not an amazing film, nor does it pretend to be one. The opening sequences of the film are awkwardly paced, the fight scenes aren’t overly creative, and the dialogue sounds almost surreal at times, and yet the film is still enjoyable. Venom: Let There Be Carnage has accrued an 80% rating score from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes (contrasting with the 60% given by critics) and is being praised by comic fans on social media.
Venom comic fans have actively praised the film for beginning to explore the relationship between Venom and Eddie in more depth. The antihero and his symbiote are not only in a relationship in Marvel Comics, but also have a child together named Sleeper. The films seem to be heading in a similar direction as both Venom and Venom: Let There Be Carnage have walked Eddie through accepting his breakup with Anne and accepting his relationship with his symbiote.
The audience is made to understand Eddie and Venom are made for each other in a way other symbiote-host relationships can’t compare to. Despite both being cool with murder, Cleetus and his symbiote Carnage disagree about Cleetus’s relationship with Shriek. This disagreement becomes a progressively bigger problem throughout the film as the two refuse to compromise or communicate effectively. Meanwhile, Eddie and Venom are at their best when they’re together. Venom helps Eddie with his investigations, pushes him to act when he wouldn’t, and keeps him safe. And Eddie helps Venom be a better ‘person’, something Venom seems to aspire to as he expresses a desire to be a hero. They not only work well together, but make each other better people.
Just searching for ‘venom2’ on Twitter reveals a mountain of adorable fanart of the couple by queer artists. The outpour of support from the queer community is not a surprise either—Venom: Let There Be Carnage explores what is an inherently queer relationship between a man and a masculine coded nonbinary alien. Eddie and Venom struggle through communication problems, the world’s messiest breakup, and a lengthy apology scene. The film is essentially about Eddie accepting Venom and the pair learning to compromise so they can continue to be together.
Additionally, Venom’s own experiences in the film are intensely queer-coded. The way Venom is hidden from the world by Eddie speaks to many queer people who know the struggle of being kept a secret. Eddie is coded as a closeted partner and Venom as one who wants the be out, leading to their ‘breakup’. Once Venom is free from Eddie, he exclaims ‘I’m out of the Eddie closet’ and immediately goes to a nightclub that’s celebrating Halloween. The nightclub being the first place Venom finds acceptance is also an intensely queer experience, further emphasized by Venom’s speech at the club about being your true self. The crowd at the night club even assumes he’s a queer person in costume talking about a literal breakup.
At the end of the day, Venom: Let There Be Carnage is a camp action flic that pays homage to the explicitly queer relationship of the comics. It’s no wonder it’s beloved by queer fans and hated by critics. The scene at the end where Eddie and Venom sit on a beach and Venom confesses his love to Eddie really encapsulates what makes this movie work. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is aware it’s a meme and plays into this while still having a heart. And that is what makes it insanely enjoyable.
Image: hoaiphong on Flickr.