Over in the Marvel Universe, it’s been a year since the events of 2018’s Venom, and journalist Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) is still struggling with the reality of playing host to the alien symbiote Venom.
Venom gives Brock the kind of superhuman powers most of us can only dream of. However, it inhabits Brock’s body, leading to a kind of alien possession scenario where the two personalities find themselves in frequent argument over exactly what their shared body should be doing – a conflict that can be particularly pronounced owing to Venom’s love of devouring human flesh.
“I think they’ve had enough of each other in some aspects,” Hardy tells The National.
“It’s two people who are having to live together like a married couple or as flatmates who get on each other’s nerves. It’s just not working. There are things that we like about each other and things that we don’t like about each other.”
We already saw the beginnings of this love/hate relationship in the first film, and in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which releases in the UAE on Thursday, it seems Brock has realised that adjusting to his new situation might not be quite as easy as he had hoped.
“We find them in the second movie having lived together for a significant amount of time and now it’s painful and irritating,” Hardy says. “You have the odd couple, and one of them is extremely confident but not from this world and the other one is from this world and he is a neurotic coward.”
Although Brock is clearly struggling with his new split personality, Hardy seems to have revelled in the opportunity to play such a conflicted character.
“It’s a joy to play two different parts of a psyche because Venom and Eddie are one for me,” he says. “They are just differentiated by the fact that one is the monster and one is Eddie, but they are always contained within one individual. It’s great fun and I just want to keep challenging it and pushing it and seeing what else I can do with it.”
In fact, Venom seems to have found a special place in Hardy’s heart. The actor doesn’t only star in the latest film, he also has credits as a co-writer and producer, and he says that he immersed himself in the comics and legend of the character in preparation for his latest outing.
“We do our best to draw on every source and infuse that with the love and care for the character that we have ourselves, and we’ll continue to do that to the best of our ability,” he says.
“We want to preserve elements that are recognisable, not only to the hard-core fans, but also push Venom towards a wider cinematic audience who may not know who Venom is in the same way. Our version of Venom is a blend of our own playful imaginations whilst also honouring the comics to the best of our abilities.”
Hardy expands further on what we can expect from Venom’s second outing on the big screen.
“There are incredible action sequences in this one,” he reveals. “For me, this film is much more than the original. We’ve built on the first. We’ve developed this character and in this one, we are pushing it story-wise. We’re adding to the thrill and spectacle elements with fantastic sequences that are completely different from anything we saw in the first.
"This is a new film, and a new world with new characters and new stakes.”
Among the new characters is one we met briefly at the end of the first film – Venom’s new nemesis Carnage, played by the multi-Oscar-nominated Woody Harrelson.
Carnage is another symbiote that is inhabiting the body of imprisoned serial killer Cletus Kasady, himself the subject of a book Brock is writing in an attempt to relaunch his stalled journalism career. Unsurprisingly, once Kasady’s body is taken over by Carnage, he swiftly escapes prison and becomes far more than an interview subject for Brock and Venom.
“Woody is one of the coolest people I have ever met,” says Hardy. “As a human being and as an actor, he is just formidable. There is nothing that you can present him with that will shock him; he has an answer, a solution to everything and he has a story to tell. It’s an absolute joy to work with him.”
Accomplished actor, director and, significantly for this project, motion capture expert Andy Serkis directs, while the cinematography is placed in the capable hands of Robert Richardson, whose credits include Platoon and Kill Bill.
Hardy assures us that the results are worthy of the talents behind them.
“When you have a director like Andy and Bob as DOP, you know you have great people on board,” he says. “It’s all about taking people on a cinematic ride and enjoying the stunts and effects that are in there to take these characters to another level. This was a federation of great talents, who came together to have a lot of fun with the second episode of a franchise, that we hope will become much loved in the world of superhero and fantasy movies.
"We’re really proud of it and we think, quietly, it’s better than the first. I’m really looking forward to everyone seeing it on a big screen.”
Venom: Let There Be Carnage is in UAE cinemas from Thursday, October 14