2016 was a groundbreaking year for the potential of R-rated comic book movies. That’s largely due to the unprecedented success of the merc with a mouth’s surprisingly great debut in Deadpool. Fox was quick to hop aboard the R-rated trend and release 2017’s stellar Logan, a much needed dose of grizzly violence featuring the X-Men’s mascot, Wolverine. Seeing as how the success of boundary-pushing comic book films are becoming the norm, it gives room for directors and writers to creatively explore the more darker aspects of comic book heroes and villains that simply wouldn’t cut it in a PG-13 rating. In the vast catalog of Marvel characters that could benefit greatly from this treatment, one need look no further than one of the most horrifying villains to ever grace comic pages – Carnage.
2017 will finally see the release of Spider-Man: Homecoming, back in the hands of Marvel Studios after an agreement with Fox and the backlash received from Marc Webb’s admirable but ultimately rushed Amazing Spider-Man films. While the new adaptation, starring boyscott Tom Holland as Peter Parker, will prominently feature Vulture as its primary antagonist, there’s room for growth in this reboot that could explore Spider-Man villains that were never given the filmic treatment. Carnage tops the list of high-demand fan favorites.
As the byproduct of the infectious alien parasite, the Symbiote, taking control over Eddie Brock to morph him into the terrifying Venom, Carnage could rightfully be called the villain of all villains. The birth of Carnage is a particularly interesting and vivid origins tale to adapt into a film adaptation, given its sensitive subject matter as the first instance of Marvel exploring more risqué themes and upbringings.
As the story goes, Cletus Kasady was born into an abusive family, mainly in part to his rocky relationship with his destructive mother. As a child, Cletus was verbally and physically abused, pushing his psychological mindframe over the edge. This opened up a traumatic past in which Cletus took to torturing and killing small animals before growing older and realizing his incontrollable bloodlust for human murder. Witnessing the death of his mother after a violent outburst lead his father, in self-defence, to protect Cletus from his own demise surely left a profound impact on the mind of an already unstable youth. What’s even more frightening is the court case that followed, in which Cletus testified against his father – a shocking turn of events that warrants intense character study.
Cletus’ unstable personality made him into Marvel’s resident serial killer – one with a dark, turbulent past that simply screams for a grittier, more realistic take on a villains origins in the vein of a serial killer movie. After David Fincher’s brilliant outings into the serial killer sub-genre with Seven and Zodiac, one could envision a similar stylistic adaptation, placing focus on the adolescent upbringings of Cletus. Of course, this means Marvel Studios would have to step out of their comfort zone of usual, more family-oriented superhero films to really pack a diabolical punch with Carnage; and what better time to do it than now, in the era inching its way closer to mainstream R-rated comic book films becoming a norm?
Carnage is a beloved fan-favorite villain in Spider-Man’s lore, and since Sam Raimi’s departure from Spider-Man 4 which would’ve potentially featured Carnage as its antagonist, there’s been an outspoken demand for this twisted, terrifying beast to have his rightful place in the cinematic universe, directly weaving into the new Spider-Man films that Marvel seems to be setting up. Perhaps now is the ideal time for Marvel Studios to prove why they’re more than capable of stepping outside the boundaries, like Fox, to deliver the most accurate depiction of one of their most wanted villains. The question shouldn’t be can they do it, but would they do it?