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Venom 2: 5 Reasons We Should Be Excited About Detective Patrick Mulligan Moving Forward

Stephen Graham reading a newspaper in Venom: Let There Be Carnage
(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Be warned, there are SPOILERS for Venom: Let There Be Carnage sprinkled throughout this story. Stop now if you don’t want anything ruined.

Anytime a Marvel movie comes around, you are bound to see some random character from the comics get the big-screen treatment. And while their on-screen counterparts don’t always end up being consequential to the story in which they are involved, there are times when a classic character not only gets plenty of screen time, but also a hint at a future within that particular franchise. Such is the case for Detective Patrick Mulligan (Stephen Graham), the San Francisco detective who was hellbent on finding the remains of Cletus Kasady’s (Woody Harrelson) victims in Venom: Let There Be Carnage. By the end of the movie, however, Mulligan becomes much more than a veteran cop with a bone to pick with Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) by getting some superpowers of his own. 

After watching the latest entry in what was once known as the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters, you may be asking yourself something along the lines of, “What’s the deal with Patrick Mulligan and how does he fit into the greater scheme of things?” Well, look no further, because we’re about to break down his history in Marvel Comics and why we should all be excited about his future in whatever we’re calling this new world following the Venom: Let There Be Carnage end credits scene.

Stephen Graham nearly being eaten by Venom in Venom: Let There Be Carnage

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

What Happened To Detective Patrick Mulligan In Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Stephen Graham’s Detective Mulligan is one of the first main characters we meet in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and early on, he is connected to the events that transpire throughout the movie. Mulligan is introduced as the young police officer who sits with Frances Barrison (Naomie Harris) when she is being transported to the Ravencroft Institute For The Criminally Insane. In an attempt to escape, Barrison, a.k.a. Shriek, uses her sonic scream to attack Graham, who then shoots her in the eye, but not after being rendered deaf in one ear.

Years later, Detective Mulligan contacts Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) about his conversations with Cletus Kasady and hopes to use the convicted killer’s trust in the reporter to his advantage. One thing leads to another, and Mulligan later believes that Brock has something to do with Kasady and Barrison escaping and begins to investigate further, leading to him being captured by the recently reunited lovers. In the movie’s climatic battle, Mulligan is seemingly killed by Shriek’s sonic blast, but is seen near the end of the movie alive and well with blue eyes, revealing he potentially has his own sonic powers.

Carnage screaming

(Image credit: Columbia Pictures)

In The Comics, Patrick Mulligan Becomes A Spawn Of The Carnage Symbiote Called Toxin

Judging by how things ended up going for Detective Mulligan in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, it looks like the character will be taking a different route from his Marvel Comics counterpart, Toxin, another iconic symbiote. In the comics, Toxin is a spawn of Carnage who is Venom’s offspring, which makes Toxin Venom’s grandson if the alien lifeforms believed in the construct of family.

Like any family, the relationship shared by the three symbiotes is a little complicated, if we’re being honest. Even before Toxin attached himself to Patrick Sullivan, a complicated detective with a host of issues both on and off his beat, Carnage has wanted nothing more than to kill his offspring. Luckily for Toxin, Mulligan and other characters living in the Marvel Comics universe, Venom stepped in to save the day. But Toxin and Venom haven’t always been on the best of terms either. 

Spider-Man in Avengers: Infinity War

(Image credit: Disney)

Toxin Has Teamed Up With Spider-Man In The Past And Even Saved The Web-Slinger From Venom And Carnage

Not long after Toxin first attached himself to Detective Patrick Mulligan, he was rescued by Spider-Man and Black Cat when Carnage attempted to kill the young symbiote and his host. After this, Toxin began to team up with Spider-Man and saw him as a role model and someone he strove to be more like. This eventually led to Toxin protecting Spider-Man by single-handedly taking on Venom and Carnage in a fight.

It remains to be seen if the version of Detective Mulligan featured in Venom: Let There Be Carnage will end up siding with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man in the future, as it is not yet known which direction the character will be going as things move forward, especially with his on-screen origin story being quite different than the one in the comics.

Venom sitting on top of a building

(Image credit: Sony)

Patrick Mulligan/Toxin Is A Complicated Character Who Fights Crime, But Also Has A Taste For Humans

The best Marvel characters are those that are complicated with a rogues gallery of demons and skeletons in the closet, and Patrick Mulligan/Toxin is no different. A relatively straight-laced police detective with a wife and young son in the Marvel Comics universe, Mulligan is also host to the symbiote Toxin, which, like similar lifeforms, has murderous urges and a taste for human brains. This new identity makes a mess of Mulligan’s life in the comics and eventually leads him to leave his wife and son behind as he fights crime and supervillains on the streets of New York City.

This battle for control is not unlike the battle Bruce Banner fights with The Incredible Hulk, so much so that Patrick Mulligan once attempted suicide by jumping in front of a train, only for the symbiote to protect the host against his wishes. And like Banner/Hulk, Mulligan and Toxin eventually come to an agreement, which could provide for some great moments if the character is in the movies for the long-haul.

Stephen Graham holding his finger to his head in This Is England

(Image credit: Optimum Releasing)

And There’s No Such Thing As Too Much Stephen Graham

Stephen Graham is one of those actors who makes me immediately interested in a movie because he’s in it. This fascination of mine started after watching his commanding performance as Andrew “Combo” Gascoigne, a violently racist and xenophobic skinhead in Shane Meadows’ 2006 coming-of-age drama This Is England. His character’s politics and worldview are absolutely abhorrent and he’s objectively a bad person, but Graham’s portrayal of a man lost to time is something that can’t be missed. 

And it’s not just in This Is England where we see that intensity from the actor. You see it with his portrayal of Al Capone on Boardwalk Empire and Anthony “Tony Pro” Provenzano in The Irishman, in addition to other movies and shows. There’s even a little bit of that quiet anger and reserved intensity in Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for his character moving forward.

Hopefully this is just the beginning of Detective Patrick Mulligan and Stephen Graham’s presence in the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters or even MCU if we’re headed in that direction. 

Philip Sledge

Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.