Venom 2 cinematographer Robert Richardson says Woody Harrelson will indeed be returning as Carnage for the sequel. Sony released the first standalone Venom movie last fall, and while it was not a critical darling, the film broke box office records during its run and launched a new franchise for Sony to develop. Unsurprisingly, the studio is in the process of piecing together the followup, recruiting Andy Serkis to direct earlier this month.
The first Venom, of course, featured a mid-credits stinger where Eddie Brock visits a prison to interview Cletus Kasady, the serial killer better known as Carnage in the comic books. Played by Harrelson, this scene seemed to be intentional sequel setup where Carnage would be the primary antagonist going up against Venom. However, to this point, the only confirmed Venom 2 cast members were Tom Hardy (obviously) and Michelle Williams. But now, fans know Harrelson will, as presumed, be reprising his role as well.
In an interview with Collider, Richardson was asked what drew him to Venom 2. The acclaimed cinematographer revealed he was hoping to add a comic book adaptation to his résumé for a while, and liked the prospect of working with Venom 2's talented cast and crew (including Harrelson):
I would say yes anyway to Andy just because I would say yes to Andy, but I also think it’s a great… I think it’s unexplored yet, and it’s going to explode, and this film, I think, will help it explode, because you have a remarkable central character with Venom, but now you’ve got Woody Harrelson, who’s going to obviously make his own little entrance here, and we’ll see what else comes in with the Sony Marvel collaboration. I look forward to it. It’s a massive change for me, but I’m excited. I think Hardy is one of our best.
Again, it was widely believed Harrelson would return for Venom 2, and while this isn't exactly official confirmation, it's encouraging to hear Richardson openly discuss Harrelson's involvement. Carnage, who in the comics is the symbiote offspring of Venom, is a character fans have wanted to see onscreen for a long time and viewers were excited by the prospect of the two going at it in the near future. Venom's Riot was a serviceable villain for the purposes of Eddie Brock's origin story, but the hope here is Carnage can leave a much more memorable impression and help elevate the sequel. Having someone like Harrelson onboard certainly won't hurt, as the actor's proven time and time again he's an extremely versatile performer who can handle any kind of material given to him. Harrelson's Kasady should fit right into the established Venom universe with an eerie and possibly campy turn from Harrelson.
Ideally, this won't be Harrelson's lone rodeo as Carnage. Venom and Carnage have such a rich history with each other, it would be a shame if it was only explored in a single film. This is one instance where it would arguably be better if the villain survived a comic book movie and was able to return at a later date. Perhaps Sony could even find a way to have Spider-Man team up with Venom to take down Carnage (which happened in the comics). That would certainly get people buzzing and soften the blow of Peter Parker no longer being in the MCU.