Venom: Let There Be Carnage director Andy Serkis says his film pushes its PG-13 rating to its very limits. Though best known as an actor behind groundbreaking motion capture performances in The Lord of the Rings and Planet of the Apes films, this sequel to 2018's Venom is Serkis' third feature, taking over franchise director duties from Ruben Fleischer. Venom: Let There Be Carnage is scheduled to release wide on October 1.

The original Venom introduced Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock, an investigative journalist who becomes host to the titular symbiote, and officially kicked off Sony's Spider-Man Universe. Though Sony still owns the rights to Spider-Man and other adjacent characters, it struck a deal to loan the friendly neighborhood hero out to the MCU, with their 2019 renegotiation stipulating that he be shared between the two universes. The Spider-Man Universe films currently in development, then, are primarily villain-centric: There Will Be Carnage is the second entry, with Morbius and Kraven the Hunter coming in 2022 and 2023, respectively. The studio is thus counting on Serkis' movie to deliver with audiences that still need convincing there's room for another cinematic universe in this here film industry.

For Venom: Let There Be Carnage, according to IGN's interview with Serkis, striking the right balance of violence and broad appeal was key. He said securing a PG-13 rating was necessary to reach the viewers they wanted, and that comes with certain rules about what can be shown on screen. But, within those guidelines, Serkis thinks his movie accomplished quite a lot:

You could go down an R-rated adult version of this. Of course you could. You could have done that with the last film. But we wanted to reach a big audience with this and... there are several rules you have to abide by. However, having said that, I think we have pushed to the very limits [with] the danger and darkness and the threat and the menace of Carnage. [...] Just because you don't see so much gore perhaps there's not so much blood or... seeing heads being bitten off you can still suggest that. The suggestion, leaving it to the audience's imagination, can be just as powerful. I think that's just what we managed to do. It's certainly not shying away from the darkness. And the real heart of Carnage as a character isn't compromised at all.

Serkis alludes to a central challenge of villain-centric superhero blockbusters - while fans of Spider-Man might not need to see an R-rated take on Peter Parker, a franchise centered on a head-chomping antihero like Venom creates different expectations. Let There Be Carnage in particular features Woody Harrelson as Cletus Kasady, a serial killer who bonds with the red symbiote Carnage, and Serkis admits this character demands a certain darkness. He will have to deliver on that darkness without excessive gore, and by weaponizing the power of suggestion, he believes he has done just that.

Delivering on Venom: Let There Be Carnage is certainly a tall order. Sony expects it to provide the foundations of a cinematic universe, which requires broad appeal, but people who are already fans of these characters, a key demographic, will be disappointed if the film feels sanitized. Even if Serkis could capture the true darkness of Carnage while keeping to a PG-13 rating, it's the content of the movie, not the MPAA, that could scare off a casual viewer. There is probably a perfect approach Serkis could take that would please everyone involved, but it will take until October 1 to find out if he's found it.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021)
Release Date: Oct 01, 2021

Morbius (2022)
Release Date: Jan 21, 2022

Kraven The Hunter (2023)
Release Date: Jan 13, 2023