VENOM: LET THERE BE CARNAGE Interview: Andy Serkis On Bringing Maximum Carnage To Marvel Movies (Exclusive)
Venom: Let There Be Carnage director Andy Serkis talks about bringing Venom and Carnage's epic clash to the big screen, Spider-Man, the franchise's future, and key scenes including Cletus Kasady's origin.
Venom: Let There Be Carnage arrives exclusively at UK cinemas from October 15, and last month, we spoke to director Andy Serkis to discuss the sequel that's already broken U.S. box office records.
While he's no stranger to superhero movies after starring in Black Panther and Matt Reeves' upcoming DC Comics adaptation The Batman, the Venom sequel marks the first time Serkis steps behind the camera to take control of the action. In charge of pitting Eddie Brock and Cletus Kasady against each other, the director delivers what we called his "ultimate Marvel movie."
In our video interview with Serkis, he talks about how comic books inspired what we see in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, key sequences like Cletus' animated origin and Edde Brock's fight with his symbiote, and the way Venom moves around the city. He also weighs in on an eventual Spider-Man crossover and whether Venom 3 could finally see the introduction of the Lethal Protector.
Needless to say, getting to pick the director's brain about his work on this Marvel movie was a real thrill, and we can only hope he eventually returns for the threequel. Serkis certainly managed to tap into what makes these characters work, something that's evident from the positive response from fans.
Watch our full interview with the filmmaker in the player below:
As you can probably tell, I’m a huge comic book fan, so I think the first thing I was wondering was which comics, in particular, you turned to for inspiration in bringing your vision for this film to life?
Well, to be honest, there were so many. We trawled through so many of them, mainly as a source of inspiration for Carnage actually [because] that was going to be the newly introduced comic book character. And Shriek, to be fair. I just gathered everything I could about Carnage from the way he moves to how he changes himself and transforms, becomes mist, and changes the molecular structure of himself. Also, how he differs as a symbiote to Venom being the son of Venom, but then plus, plus, plus because he’s a 'red one.' That was a really enjoyable part of the process and then turning that into a real, physical thing using performance capture. We had avatars of an early prototype version of Carnage and then we started working with dancers, gymnasts, and other physical performers to see how we could make him different. Venom, if you like, is very grounded and an ape-like American football player or rugby player with his physicality. Carnage is all about side-stepping, slippery, moving and using energy in different ways, and using his tendrils like a squid, firing them out and weaponizing them. All that exploration and having the comics there was amazing for reference.
I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone, but one of my favourite sequences was in the apartment when Eddie and Venom start butting heads, let's say, and I’m curious how that sequence came together? I can imagine that, on your end, it must have been a very challenging thing to choreograph and put together with CG and motion capture?
Yeah, the thing is, the performance side of it is all down to Tom’s brilliance as a physical performer. His process of creating Venom was recording all Venom’s lines first to himself and then play it in an earpiece so he could improvise with “Venom” and his own timing. That’s the way we started every scene, but that one grew as an idea. It was scripted as a bit of a slap fight, and then we extended that as we realised this was turning into something major. It ended up being a lover throwing another lover’s clothes out in this relationship moment. That was a really exciting part of the process to build and work with the stunt guys. They did such a fantastic job. With the visual effects team, just working out exactly the special effects because a lot of what gets thrown are real things. It was a huge thing to choreograph.
Something else I really loved about the film that I don’t think we saw as much of in the first one is that when Venom is moving around the city, there’s a real impact when he lands and jumps, creating this destruction. Was it important to you to add that element this time around, especially as he is such a Hulk-ing character in some ways?
Definitely. From working with CG characters now for the last two decades, I’m really acutely aware of when a character doesn’t have the right weight. It’s all about the impact and integration to the environments they’re in. It really works well when you do see bits of buildings fall away or claws are going up the side. All of that stuff, plus, you have to work with a director of photography who really understands how to visually integrate. They’re so surreal these symbiotes; Carnage and Venom that you have to work double hard to really blend the lighting in such a way that they don’t stand out as cartoons against the background. We spent a long time with how the light falls off the edges of the skin and how the light bounces off the specular sort of skin they have. So, that was Bob Richardson who is one of the world’s greatest DOPs, we were working with him and Sheena Duggal who is the VFX supervisor. We all worked together to say, ‘This is the goal: to solidify these characters and make them really feel like they’re in the environment.’
I absolutely loved this film and had so much fun with it, and I know it’s early days and everyone’s going to want to know about a potential Venom 3 and it’s too soon to say, but do you think if that film does roll around it’s the right time for this character to maybe cross paths with Spider-Man?
Who knows? I don’t know where it’s heading, but hopefully, this film…you can’t count on anything…but hopefully, this film will do well and people will go and see it. I do feel it’s the right film for right now because I think people will enjoy it. If they do get out and make the effort to see it in cinemas, I think it’s a perfectly uplifting fun and dark film that will be hugely entertaining. Hopefully, it will reinvigorate people to go back to the cinemas. Who knows? Who knows? We’ll have to wait and see.
Were you ever thinking about putting any Spider-Man Easter Eggs in this movie or were you very much focused on this Carnage story before moving ahead to that?
In this story, we wanted to continue it being in its own universe and not have it cross over too much into anything else. There was so much to unpack with this story; the odd couple relationship, the introduction of Cletus and Carnage. We had an embarrassment of riches in terms of what stories we could tell here. Shriek. Her backstory and blending it all together. It really felt like there wasn’t any more room to start going to the next phase, and I think if and when it does happen, it will land at the right time, as a result, by not rushing into it.
Absolutely. I really enjoyed the animated sequence in the film telling Cletus’ backstory as it was really unique for a superhero film like this.
Oh great. That’s cool.
Was it an easy thing to include in a blockbuster like this or was Sony fully open to you doing something a little more unusual like that?
I have to say, they were really open to that. There were different ways we could have gone. We could have made it more comic book panels, but for me, it was always really important that it be seen through Cletus’ eyes and his form of expression. Because of the drawings in the cell and that freneticism and the energy he draws really reflected his psychosis in a way. For me, it needed to have…finally, everyone came around to the idea that was the way to go, for sure. I’m really glad you enjoyed that.
Venom talks a lot in this film about wanting to be a Lethal Protector and, as you said, there are so many comics out there and so many iterations of the character, but is that Lethal Protector a version you’d be keen to explore? I feel like it’d be a big change to this Venom and show a different side to him as well.
For sure. To arrive at that point, we needed to have this film to get those relationships cooking. I do think there’s huge fertile ground for Lethal Protector stories, definitely.
Finally, Carnage in this film is an absolute beast of a character which I loved. What did you enjoy most about that and were there any appendages you maybe didn’t get a chance to include because he uses some great weapons in this film?
[Laughs] There was a line in the script once which was, ‘I can do this! I can do this! I can do this!’ and it was just…that really spurred in our minds, both myself and the visual effects team, endless permutations of weaponizing him. We were again spoiled for choice, but you don’t want to show, you want to exemplify exactly what they can all do. I think we got the balance right, but it is really exciting. It was a very exciting part of the process with honing in on what his special sauce was, so to speak.