MCU ’22 Bonus Pitch: Spider-Man: Attack of the Clones

Quick note: Okay, so I made a mistake, and thought I could take last week off. But I was forgetting that I’d been sitting on this pitch to release alongside the new Spider-Verse movie… so Batman will come out next Friday.

The Deal: I pitch movies set in the Marvel or DC cinematic universes. Also other things. And I’m using AI to generate images, with often silly results.

This one started as mostly a joke idea, until I realized, “Multiplicity, but with Spider-Man” was the pitch, and then… then I realized we could just do a straight-up comedy, and even loop in Michael Keaton’s Vulture as the straight man for it, and fell in love with the idea. This is the year of the Spider, so… why not? Oh, and we’re definitely pulling in Paul Rudd, who has his own similarly-themed Netflix show called Living with Yourself, and because I think his character would be a hilarious mentor to Peter, the angel on his shoulder to the devil that is the Vulture. Plus, the two of them have comedy chops that we could really lean into. You might even be able to get Adam McKay to come and do this one, with all of that talent and budget, and that would be fun madness.

To start, this movie would finally play up the “Peter can’t keep a job to save his skin” angle. I’m going to say he’s staying with Felicia Hardy in the apartment he used to share with May- that their relationship has progressed since Heroes for Hire 2. Felicia’s footing the bill, but since Peter insists they pay their bills legitimately, they’re in danger of losing the apartment, so he’s searching the want ads for something that isn’t going to interfere with his school, or his heroing, which he coyly refer to as his night school (because Felicia is worried he’s going to accidentally blurt out something Spider-Man to a classmate without thinking). “Last weekend you were up for three straight days. You forgot to put on pants the whole day- not that I’m complaining. But you ordered a pizza, and the delivery girl could definitely see your web sack.”

“Felicia!” She nods, and we see the sack of webbing where he keeps his Spider-Man gear, definitely in full view of the front door. “That sack; yeah, I need to be more careful about who sees my sack.”

There’s a knock at the door, and Peter forgets to hide his websack, even though they were just talking about it. Thankfully, it’s Miles, wanting to be trained (especially having seen firsthand a fight with an Inheritor in Edge of the Spider-Verse). It’s subtle, to start, but he’s acting like he and Peter have already had this conversation, that Peter already agreed to mentor him. Peter doesn’t feel ready for the responsibility. He tells Miles that part of being a mentor is having the maturity to know when you’re not ready to be a mentor- but that Dr. Connors helped him a lot when he was Miles’ age. Miles is unhappy, but mentions that Dr. Connors wanted him to pass a message, one that doesn’t make any sense to Peter. Felicia hands Peter his phone, telling him he missed a call; MJ leaves a message telling him it was really cool meeting him and she had fun at lunch.

The trouble is, he still hasn’t contacted her, and he didn’t take her to lunch- he was with Felicia. Things come to a head when Vulture brings a second Peter home. He’s expecting to deliver Peter to May and tell her to keep him away from his daughter.

I… don’t know what Vulture’s doing with his tongue. I… don’t think I want to know.

At that moment, Man-Spider (having taken the name Ben Reilly for himself) arrives, having had a thought. Realizing there are already two of them there, Ben tries to excuse himself, “Oh, I see we’re already here.”

“God, they’re multiplying,” Vulture says.

Felicia asks for a moment to talk to, “the supervillain standing in my foyer?” She leans into him. “He might have a problem with killing people like you. Look at him sideways in my apartment, and see if I have the same compunction.”

Felicia lets Vulture enter the room with the other three Peters. “Wait, how was he anywhere near Liz? I thought she moved to the West Coast,” our Peter asks.

“They’re in town. For a visit,” Vulture says.

Really?” Pete says, leering.

“Dude,” Ben says, “Felicia.”

“I was teasing him. That overprotective father thing is so… ten years ago.”

“And what do you have to say for yourself?” Ben asks the new Spider-Man Vulture delivered.

“It was innocent,” Casanova Spider says with a shrug. “I was swinging along, and-”

“Wait,” our Peter interrupts. “How were you swinging. I invented my web-shooters.”

“I remember. I remember everything up until you got caught by the Jackal.”

“Oh, crap,” Peter says.

“So I grabbed one of your extra costumes, and built some web shooters. And I knew MJ had gotten that internship, and I was in the area. She… wanted to play a game like we’d never met, but we got lunch. She’s a really great girl; she deserves to have some quiet time with you. But after that, I was swinging around on patrol, when my spider sense lit up. It was him.” He nods at Vulture. “I followed him, and he met up with Liz. Then left. And she looked so sad. And so sweet. And… we were just talking.”

“Your lips were literally on her ear,” Vulture says menacingly.

“We started talking. She’s- the move was really hard on her. The blip was really hard on her, too. Everything, really, has been hard on her. She just needed a friend… I guess I was maybe a little too sympathetic an ear.”

“And when did you visit Connors?” Ben asks.

“I haven’t seen Dr. Connors since… since I was you, I guess.”

“Crap,” Ben and Pete say at the same time.

Vulture drives them across town. The Peters chatter amongst themselves, a little too loudly; some suspect, as a Jackal associate, that Vulture might be involved, and they should keep their friends close but their enemies closer. “Was thinking the same thing,” Vulture says.

They find out from Connors that there’s another Spider-Man, a Nerd Spider (is Poindexter-Man too much?). “He was wearing glasses, like you used to, Peter, and kept complaining about his allergies. Apparently, sneezing in the mask is… a problem.”

They track him down at the public library, doing research. He has braces, for some reason, and is dressed like the 60s version of Peter. He has some theories about what’s going on. His original hypothesis was that Jackal had some kind of a master plan. But research of the Bugle archives has found a series of brutal murders. There was flesh torn from the bodies, and each was found with a hand-print friction burn on their face. Nerd Spider picks up a piece of graph paper and sticks to it with his hand, before peeling the paper away. We zoom in to see that some of the fibers stay on his hand. “When we stick to surfaces, we extend what is, in essence, a low-level gravity field, just enough Gs to hold up a little more than our body weight- roughly us plus a person, plus compensating for whatever momentum we reach the wall with. But imagine one of the clones came out… not exactly correctly. A mutation, an aberration, something that amplified this field. Then imagine applying that force to a human being’s face.”

“The first murder,” we flashback, “was a man neighbors knew as Jack.” It’s another Peter, this one with a shaved head, and a little shorter than the others. “I believe he was one of the Jackal’s first attempts at cloning Peter, and worked to assist him. He was found, murdered, wearing a green outfit similar to the one the Jackal wore, with that tell-tale handprint across his face.” And we’re back in the library. “That’s when I realized the truth: Warren lost control of his clones. Someone has been letting us out.”

“To what end?” Ben asks.

“That…. I don’t know. But at least one of them is a killer. A Spider-Murderer- and that should give all of us pause.”

We see some of New York’s finest walking a Peter in Spider-Man feety pajamas into Peter’s building. This Peter keeps repeating the address. I’m going to try and walk a line, here. In Multiplicity (hell, in virtually every story of this type), they do a ‘one of them came out wrong’ sort of joke. The character’s always some kind of handicapped, usually played for comedy. Obviously, that’s problematic, when the joke is that handicapped people are funny (as in the butt of the joke, not as in capable of being humorous). But I want to be able to have my cake and eat it, on this. So my thought, and were we to do this, we would absolutely consult with sensitivity professionals and stakeholders, is that one of the clones has trisomy 21, Down syndrome. This would be the one clone not played by Tom Holland, because we’d get someone with Down syndrome to play him. The cops knock on the door, and tell Felicia that this young man claims to be her nephew, that this is where he lives. Felicia invites him in (I’m going to call him Corky, after Chris Burke’s Life Goes On character; bit before my time, but at least Google seems to think he’s been a good advocate for that community), and calls Peter. Just as a note, this clone might be younger; I want him in adorable Spider-Man feety pajamas, but I want them appropriate to the character (which, I will note, he corrects people to call his “Petey Pajamas” because that’s adorable).

I think the only ‘joke’ we’d have, here, is largely a reference to Multiplicity. Vulture goes into a room where the extra Spider-Men, including this one, under the direction of Nerd Spider, are hard at work assembling web shooters for all of the Spider-Men. Vulture emerges a little shaken. “He said ‘she’ touched his peppy. If ‘she’ was my daughter, I’m killing them both.” Seeming to understand that sounds bad, even for a villain, he adds, “It’s not because he’s different. It’s that he’s 2. And one of you.”

“Can we postpone the filicide?” Original Pete asks.

“Because my daughter’s a filly?” he asks, glaring.

“From the Latin, fillia. I did take Latin in the first place to impress your daughter, though. That’s, basically a compliment. It takes studying Latin to impress her, even a little, and all I got from her was this little wiggle smile. Worth it, but, now I have a head full of murder- it could be a prolicide. She’s probably not technically a kid, anymore, or it could be a pedicide.”

“And what would killing a spider be?” Vulture menaces.

“Arachnicide. Oh.”

The punchline for the joke would occur in an end-credits scene. The clone with Down syndrome excitedly exclaims that, “She’s touching my peppy,” from the closed room. Vulture and Felicia both protectively barrel into the room, to find that Pizza Dog, yes, from the Hawkeye series, is licking his pizza- his pepperoni pizza. “She’s touching my peppy,” he says with a scowl, before closing the box, and sauntering off with it.

But also, he’s not just here for a joke. He’d be there, as part of the finale, suited up, part of the good Spider army fighting against the villains. I think, to make sure we’re being responsible, one of the other clones asks him if he’s up to the fight. He pulls on his mask. “Don’t worry about me,” he says, “I’m Spider-Man.”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Realizing this is all getting out of hand, Peter starts calling his former mentors. Starting with Dr. Strange, then Nick Fury, then ringing through to Happy. Then he calls the Avengers line, and we see the call ring through to several others (to save money, we can always have the calls just show on a phone in the right setting. Finally, Ant Man answers, calling him “Peanut,” before realizing he isn’t his daughter; Peter doesn’t realize it’s not a pet name for him, and awkwardly calls him “Biscotti.” He agrees to help Peter, largely because Multiplicity is one of his favorite Harold Ramis movies. He and Michael Keaton will end up in an argument over which is the better execution to the idea, Multiplicity or Living with Myself, with each arguing for the other’s version (because that’s funnier).

Again and again, the story comes back down to Peter both feeling responsibility for his clones, but also feeling like they shouldn’t be his responsibility. That’s the secret weapon we have, here; Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man and Michael Keaton’s Vulture are both actually really devoted fathers, and despite themselves, will give him the kind of solid advice he’ll need.

I think they investigate a series of murders and break-ins, dead spiders, and tech stolen from former Parker mentors. That’s because the rogue spiders all share Peter’s memories, as well as his scientific acumen. So their goal is, largely, to make a New York where they won’t be freaks, where they can be normal, or at least where the only freakish thing will be that they’re clones. This leads to a confrontation, the good Peters convinced that it isn’t worth the risk- some people will die, especially the old, the sickly, the young- that they don’t have the right to force this evolution on people.

I imagine, to get a more personal show-down, the good clones each stake out a different final component, and it’s original Peter who is there when Kaine breaks in. Kaine… is not a fan of his, blaming him for a lot of what happened to all of them, for first letting himself be kidnapped by Jackal, by not rescuing the rest of them, by letting the Avengers make him their goofy kid mascot, rather than make it okay for mutants to be public with their mutations. Peter tries to reason with him; in a way, Kaine is his wayward son, and in others, he’s Peter if things had gone very badly for him.

But Kaine is full of rage, rage borne of pain, both physical and psychological, and he lashes out. He’s strong, stronger than Peter; for the uninitiated, Kaine is basically what happens when the spider powers end up turned to 11. Even though Peter is more experienced, he’s just not ready for Kaine’s unbridled fury; Ben shows up, and saves him. Kaine flees, but with the tech he needed (he was never really there for a fight, anyway). Peter manages to hit Kaine with a tracker, one that will allow them to confront him before he finishes his device.

To fill out the ranks of the Bad Spiders, we’re mostly going to use Kaine’s various personae over the years, Tarantula, Scarlet Spider (the black and red costume); it could be neat to have Otto side with the evil Spiders as Superior Spider-Man, maybe bring some spider robots into play (maybe having been injured during Sinister 7 and back to using his tech to puppeteer a clone- maybe one who suffers a head injury and ends up comatose?).

We do a big knock-down drag-out fight between the good and bad Spiders, including the triumphant arrival of Footy Pajama Spider-Man. He is completely competent as a Spider-Man; it’s possible, if there’s some fun to be had, in the idea that he’s different from how we’d expect from a typical Spider-Man, provided he’s not the butt of the joke, and provided he’s different, but in a way that totally works (see the Feety Pajamas); I am, likewise, toying with the idea that he has a pig stuffed animal that he sewed a matching costume for, so that we can sort of have Spider-Ham in this thing (though he will properly be in the next one, but shhh… you’re not supposed to know that yet).

Miles shows up at the final battle, in his own home-made costume, saying he couldn’t stand by and let other people fight, let other people get hurt. Peter takes a moment to apologize. “I’m the reason you got sucked into this insane world; I didn’t want that for you, and I certainly wouldn’t have chosen it, but I have a responsibility to help you be the best Spider-Man you can be; we all have a responsibility to make each other the best we can be. So stay alive, kid, and I’ll teach you,”

“How to stay alive?” Miles asks, ducking one of the Doppleganger’s talons.

“I guess that’s all I have to teach you. You’ve already got the patter down.”

We get a big fight, with everyone getting a moment to shine:

Casanova: “I’m really more of a lover than a fighter,” he says, as Superior advances on him. He webs Superior’s elbow to a gargoyle, then takes a step back. Superior lunges forward, before hitting the end of his leash- and then the web sproings the gargoyle into him.

Kaine confronts Feety Pajama Spider-Man: “You should be with us. We’re fighting for a world where mutants are treated with respect, and dignity.”

“Spider-Man isn’t evil. That’s what’s wrong with you.” He ducks a punch, webbing Kaine’s feet to the ground, before leaping over him and and delivering a crushing uppercut.

Miles, in his home-made black and red suit, confronts the Scarlet Spider, also in red and black. Peter’s nervous, because this one is nearly as deadly as Kaine. Peter keeps telling him to feel for the tingle, but Miles is having trouble sensing it, before his hand grazes Scarlet’s shoulder, and he zaps him with a venom blast. “Think I felt the tingle,” Miles says.

“I think we all felt that one,” Peter says, before spraying a web for another Spider-Man to knock an opponent over.

I think Ben fights a newly re-formed Doppleganger. (yes, from my Maximum Carnage pitch– though this time I’m assuming they put that symbiote on a different clone, so Ben can literally face his demons) I think he maybe gets his clock cleaned by it earlier, and so he refuses to take the serum Dr. Conners made for him, and at a dramatic moment in the fight, mentions Popeye, “except for me, it’s actually the opposite of eating my spinach.” His four extra arms tear their way out of his sides; it’s clear it’s pretty painful, but suddenly they’re evenly matched, in fact, maybe Ben is on top, and furnishes a syringe he shoots the Doppleganger up with. “That should help with the mutation, and I put in some tranquilizers, too.”

“I’ve been analyzing some of the tissue samples left behind by Electro, and realized some of the organic compounds they contained could bind with our webbing fluid.”

“You’re putting me to sleep, Poindexter,” Tarantula growls, swiping wildly.

“Yes. The point.” He hits him in the chest with a web that then zaps him. “Difficult to believe we emerged from the same gene pool,” he says over the smoking spider.

It’s only after defeating and unmasking Kaine that we find out the biggest reason he’s been pushing this fight so aggressively: the clones are defective. As the oldest clone, Kaine’s damage is the furthest progressed. He was hoping to make being a spider/clone okay, then to harness the sympathy and acceptance to try and get some of the MCU’s big brains to help save them. He wasn’t really a bad dude, just a desperate one, who felt responsible for the clones who came after him. On the one hand, this gives us an out, for why Peter isn’t the real villain, but it also gives us a way to hand-wave away the clones until/unless we want to bring them back- that they’ve been off curing/arresting the degeneration.

End Credits Scene:

Feety Pajama Spider-Man is still a little out of sorts, eating his pizza sticking to the side of a water tower, as Pizza Dog barks at him from the roof below. “My peppy,” he says, taking a bite from a slice. His stuffed Spider-Ham is webbed to the tower beside the pizza box.

A portal opens, energy and electricity scaring Pizza Dog, who barks at it. Petey drops his pizza, gobsmacked, and the dog snatches it and runs off. Petey’s not even paying attention, because he’s more interested in the portal. It starts off screen. I’m assuming he’s off screen, but we hear John Mulaney’s distinctive voice. “Hey, kid, how’s it hanging?”

“Hey Ham.”

“I told you, it’s Peter.”

I’m Peter.”

“Kid, we’re all Peter.” We finally reverse, and see that Spider-Ham is there, with Indian Spider-Man and Penni Parker. “Okay, so half of present company excluded. This place has got way too many spiders. It’s ringing the dinner bell before we’re ready to serve just desserts. So come with us. We’ve got a safe place to prepare. And, yeah, kid. You’re going to need your Petey Pajamas.”

We cut to black. White text appears one word at a time.

Feety Pajama Spider-Man

And Spider-Ham

Will Return

In The Spider-Verse

Pitchmas 2021, Part 2: Sinister Seven

The Deal: I pitch movies set in the Marvel or DC cinematic universes. Also other things. This pitch is a direct sequel to Sinister Six.

Note: Part of the challenge of these pitches is that I’m making guesses based on the shifting landscape of Marvel’s universe; to accommodate this, I moved this pitch from last week to this one, figuring I could adjust as necessary over the week. Since my first Sinister Six pitch, we’ve had a Venom and a Spider-Man movie, and as a result some things I assumed were givens have now been altered; I haven’t seen No Way Home yet, and may not for some time, since my local drive-in is shuttered for the winter. The main difference is I assumed Carnage would still be around, and a threat, which Venom needed help with- and not you know, in a different reality. Now, I’d switch his character’s motivation towards fixing the Symbiote’s dietary restrictions in that first movie, but it otherwise plays pretty much the same. Now, on with our feature presentation.

The Pitch

We start on a rainy night. Venom swings through the streets like Spider-Man, the symbiote first humming a version of the Spider-Man cartoon theme, before it bursts out into a boisterous version of the chorus with his own lyrics:

Venom Suit, Venom Suit

Eats scum from their heads down to their boot (alternate line: Friend to chickens and a hoot,)

Alien goo and sexy too,

Lethally protects you and you!

Look out!

Here comes the Venom Suit!”

Venom lands on a rooftop, and Eddie’s face is revealed under the mask. “I don’t like your song,” Eddie says

“Why not?” the Suit asks.

“For one, it’s entirely about you. I’m not even in it.”

“You’re in it. Because you’re in me.”

“You make it sound like I’m you’re luggage.”

“That’s it exactly. You’re my carry-on.” Eddie’s annoyed, but doesn’t pursue it further. Lightning slashes the sky, and the suit winces. “I do not like the lightning, Eddie.”

“I know, buddy,” Eddie says, but he’s cut off by another flash of lightning, this one closer; the symbiote recoils from Eddie, nearly tearing clean off him.

“It weakens us,” Venom says, as another flash hits a transformer near to them. In the initial strike, we can almost make out the fact that the symbiote is trying to tear itself in half- we see two distinct symbiotes. When the transformer explodes, coating the rooftop with fire and sound, the symbiotes sheer. It’s a moment before the torn away symbiote’s shape becomes recognizable, but it is Carnage, reborn. His symbiote face peels back to reveal Cleatus Kassidy beneath it.

“Nice to see you, Eddie,” he says, “but I got to run.”

He leaps off the roof. Venom is there an instant later, but he can’t tell where Carnage ran. There are a handful of people on the street, any of whom he could be, and a manhole cover missing from the sewers. Eddie wants to pursue, but Venom is terrified. They gave killing Carnage their absolute best shot, and he shrugged it off like it was nothing. He prevents Eddie from pursuing long enough that Carnage has definitely gotten away. We do whatever opening credits we’re going to do, at a minimum, flashing the title with a bloody, “Absolute Carnage” splattered beneath the words “Sinister Seven” (and yes, we are taking inspiration from the Oceans flicks and adding a member of the crew and going up by one for the sequels).

We get a quick montage of Eddie doing research, because the Six have changed their hideout. Venom, desperate, returns to the Sinister Six headquarters, and demands Ock pay what he owes, namely, that the Six help defeat Carnage. But he’s followed by Carnage and his new crew including Shriek wearing a black and white symbiote of her own, which resembles her comics ensemble. That’s right: Carnage’s symbiote and Venom’s made babies (note: in this reality, Kassidy did get the death penalty, leaving his Shriek available, and consequently more feral). Ock and his team are still licking their wounds from their last whupping, and unprepared for the onslaught. Carnage captures Vulture and offers to spare his family if Vulture agrees to work for him- and threatens to recruit his daughter in his stead if he doesn’t. We also see them seize Jackal. The remaining members of the Six scatter, recognizing the fight as unwinnable (and villains being a superstitious and cowardly lot).

Venom doubles back, and follows Carnage. He’s also recruited the Hobgoblin, who also knows where Man-Spider and Lizard have been working together. I might give Shriek a backstory with Dr. Connors, that he experimented on her while she was in custody, trying to remove the herding/pack mentality from human beings (her abilities have been linked to the opposite, a panicked, every man for himself kind of instinct). She seeks revenge on him.

We cut to Connor’s lab. Peter unmasks, and offers his services as a lab assistant to Dr. Connors (personally, I’d bring back Dylan Baker, because he’s phenomenal, and can do that mentor thing no problem, but also can pivot to sinister in a way that would make him perfect for this role). See, Pete, because he’s been Spider-Manning, hasn’t really been able to hold down a job, so on paper he looks like the world’s biggest flake. Connors is patient with him, but says that even before he got the spider bite, he wasn’t much of an assistant; he spent his time there geeking out, and it got bad enough he had to hire an intern to pick up the slack, before Peter fully ghosted him to work for Octavius (who, faithful readers will remember, he ghosted for Tony Stark). That’s when we meet Connors’ new lab assistant, Miles Morales. He’s getting some college credit in exchange for the gig, and money for college… once he’s old enough to go. Pete thinks a moment, then offers that if he ever needs a second assistant, he’s one swing away. Connors stops him, and says that he’s still going to help him- him and his clone. We hear the sound of web-swinging, before a four-armed Spider-Man swings into the room. “I don’t know, I’m sort of getting used to the four arms,” he says. “Though I don’t miss the thousands of eyes. Or being hairy like a sasquatch.” Pete gets a call from Aunt May, and tells them he has to go, and swings out the window.

Miles confronts Connors about their mysterious donor- that it’s Spider-Man. Connors doesn’t confirm it, or deny it. Miles tells him that, ethically, they shouldn’t be keeping their experiments a secret. He says that until they have a breakthrough, there’s nothing to publish- nothing to share- and he wants to make sure it’s safe before exposing anyone else to the mutagenic compounds in Spider-Man’s blood. 

The window opens, and they turn back, expecting to find Peter. But it’s Carnage. Man-Spider attacks him, and Carnage makes quick work of him, dropping a writhing little ball of symbiote onto him that turns him into the Doppleganger. Carnage next attacks Connors, who starts to change into the Lizard. As his mouth snaps open, Carnage jams a symbiote inside, and holds him while it takes him over. In the commotion, Miles hides, but has a terrarium with a spider smashed over him in the commotion, and he’s bit by its former inhabitant. Venom, watching from a nearby rooftop, calls Ock.

Cut to Peter Parker’s rooftop. He’s marching, maskless, saying, “No no no no no no no.” We pan, and see that he’s reacting, badly, to Ock and Venom. “The last time you two were on this rooftop I was sucked into a black void before spending a week chained in a sadistic nightmare.”

Venom, not being a monster in this iteration, tries to apologize. Ock cuts him off. “You care for your clone, yes? And Dr. Connors?”

“Are you threatening them? What kind of a team-up is this?”

“They are already under threat, and not from me. Carnage has them. They are in the thrall of his sadistic symbiotes.”

“Are you saying they’re all sadistic or just his?”

“The red ones,” Venom’s symbiote says, “are mad. We have a saying amongst the Klyntar, that black and white are all right. Black and red, everyone’s dead.”

“Well thank God there’s a nursery rhyme,” Peter says, rubbing his eyes. “And they can be helped?”

“Symbiote and host can be separated. Must, in most cases, before the symbiote kills the host.”

“Oh. Good. What nightmare isn’t better without a ticking clock?” Peter asks. He shoves his mask back on. “I don’t see that I have a choice.”

“You could call your Avenger friends,” Ock taunts.

“You think he didn’t?” we hear a commanding voice from behind them. We see that Sam Wilson Captain America is landing on the rooftop.

This is your cavalry?” Ock complains.

“Short notice. Everyone else is dealing with a Kang situation,” Sam says (we can swap in whatever else might be a more appropriate reference).

“So that’s six, right?” Peter asked. “Contract fulfilled. We can stop recruiting and take the fight to Carnage? Or are you doing that thing from that old Ocean’s 11 series, where each time you have to add a character and a number to the movie.”

“There wasn’t a sequel to the ‘old’ Ocean’s 11,” Ock protested.

“Kid’s 6. Anything older than Blue’s Clues is prehistoric,” Venom said.

“Blue’s whose?” Peter asked, to which Ock chortled.

We cut to street level. Carnage’s symbiotes are chasing Cloak through the streets. He calls out for Tandy, before he hears her scream “Tyrone.” He follows the scream to the rooftops.

Carnage is there with his makeshift family. “You spoke to Brock for an article about homeless youth and underground drug experiments. Nobody cared. Color me shocked. But the experiments made you slippery, and your friend, well, she’s a beacon if I ever saw one. Her? I have no use for. I learned a long time ago that I do my best work in the dark. But you… we could have a lot of fun with you. But you’re slippery. So I was never going to be able to catch you on my own. I needed leverage.” Shriek produces Tandy, held inside her symbiote. “I have a soft spot for tragic love, so I’ll give you one chance to save ‘Tandy.’ You accept one of my symbiotes, and I let her go.” We show he’s got a finger crossed behind his back.

“I want to say goodbye.” Cloak floats near her, then engulfs both Shriek and Dagger in his cloak, before disappearing- but not before Carnage tags him with one of his symbiotes. Cloak lets Dagger out of his cloak somewhere else. They have a tearful goodbye, as Cloak tells her that he can feel the symbiote taking him over- that she needs to run- because when it does, it’s going to chase her. She doesn’t want to leave him. He tells her he isn’t- that she’s going to save him- she just has to pick her moment. He disappears, reappearing with Carnage. He lets Shriek loose. Then they all teleport to where he left Tandy. She’s gone.

The story follows a similar arc to the Maximum Carnage storyline from the books, Carnage’s team sewing panic in the streets, which Shriek is able to turn into unrest and rioting; she’s used Connor’s work and her new symbiote to create the opposite of what he was working on, a low-level sonic pulse that freaks people the hell out on an animal level; he’ll jibber about the reptile brain, mention those sonic pest repellers; it’s especially effective on the young, who have better hearing, and also fewer social ties, and because the first riot is mostly kids, that freaks out the older cohort. So by the time the heroes are organized, Carnage has built himself a bubble of innocent rioters to hide behind- they can’t take the fight to them until they clear out the civilians. 

But just like the original Maximum Carnage, it’s a combination of Captain America’s inspiration for them to be their best selves (I imagine mentioning the solidarity he saw in New York during the Chitari attack, Sam, not yet an Avenger, took volunteers from his group therapy to do disaster work), and a combination of Dagger’s light powers, that get the people enough in their right minds to disperse. I’m imagining an additional rub, that while he’s not officially, numerically part of the team (got to save something for the sequel) Morbius studies Shriek’s impact, and discovers there’s a biological component; yes, it is primarily a psychic plague, but it works symbiotically with a biological one, that lowers inhibitions while increasing adrenaline and rage- even if they can get the crowd to calm down, the moment someone stubs a toe it all goes to hell all over again, unless they can deal with the underlying, symbiote-based infection. I’d probably have him be attacked by a symbioted Jackal, who mocks his abilities, and he has to defeat, to be able to carry out his cure. So it’s the three of them in tandem that deal with Shriek’s influence.

Then the heroes take the fight to Carnage. We get a cool aerial Cap vs Vulture fight, a heartfelt Dagger vs. Cloak fight (him swallowing her up and her using her light from inside to reach him). Venom fights Carnage, while Spider-Man handles his Doppleganger. I guess Ock fights Lizard. Kraven and Scorpion fight Hobgoblin and Shriek. Dagger is able to clear the symbiotes off of people, everyone except Carnage. See, there isn’t anything underneath it- he’s just the symbiote, the face we’ve seen having been recreated by its shape-shifting. I think as the other symbiotes are removed, they return to Carnage; it makes him slightly more powerful, but also takes the hosts out of the fight. So in the end it’s everyone still standing versus Carnage. He ends up climbing to the top of a tower where, buffeted by attacks, he’s struck by lightning, and his charred body falls to the ground, shattering.

Mid-Credits Scene

Venom apologizes again to Spider-Man for dragging him into this. Peter, with a little reluctance, takes his hand and shakes it. We go in close, as the Venom symbiote reaches a tendril from Eddie’s hand onto the back of Spider-Man’s. It should read, in the moment, like the symbiote wanting to shake his hand, too, since he’s a real hero.

Ock is waiting in the wings, wanting a similar moment, and Peter notices. “You touch me, Otto, and I’ll tear off your arms. The, uh, metal ones, I mean.”

“You touch the kid again, and I’m tearing off all your limbs,” Venom adds. “Wait. Aw, crap.” Venom starts to do the thing he did at the end of Venom 2, and disappears; instinctively, the suit covers Spider-Man, too, to try to protect him, and inadvertently drags Peter with them, giving us, for the briefest moment, the MCU debut of symbiote Spider-Man.

Sam is on Otto in an instant, assuming he had something to do with the kid’s disappearance. Otto is just as flummoxed, and concerned, as he is. “I knew the boy before he grew into a Spider-Man; I briefly dated his aunt, and considered him a son. My concern for his welfare is equal to your own, and my befuddlement at his disappearance equal, too.”

Sam asks Connors, who is out of his depth on this one. Sam leaves, saying he needs to consult with some nerds.

End Credits

We cut to Carnage’s charred remains on the ground, and can see that the eyes are moving, if only just. He’s remembering the moment he was struck. We saw it as lightning, but really, it was a message, carried on electricity, across the stars. We zoom across galaxies, to the homeworld of the Klyntar, a writhing ball o symbiotes. We push through the goo, into a dark throne room, on which sits a gaunt, terrifying figure. We zoom in, pushing close, until we can just see one of his eyes beneath wispy white hair. He opens one blood-red eye, and we cut to black.