Finally, after its initial tease in 2014, Kraven the Hunter is coming to the big screen this October! On the first night of CinemaCon, Sony Pictures took the stage to give a first look at the upcoming film set in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe. But after all these years of development hell, what do we know about the movie so far? Keep reading for more on that and some Kraven the Hunter theories about what could happen.
According to multiple outlets in attendance at CinemaCon, the footage of the film shown was of Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Kraven, using his teeth to rip the flesh off of enemies. He’s equipped with the iconic lion-pelt costume from the comics and lives up to the name of “The Hunter” by using traps and other weapons designed for catching game.
The real shocker Sony revealed was that the film would feature The Rhino, portrayed by Alessandro Nivola from the acclaimed The Many Saints of Newark. Other characters include Ariana DeBose as Calypso (a voodoo priestess and Kraven’s love interest), Fred Hechinger as Dmitri Smerdyakov (Chameleon, Kraven’s half-brother), and lastly Russell Crowe (rumored to be Nikolai Kravinoff, Kraven’s father). There have also been quiet mentions of Christopher Abbott, who is supposedly playing the Foreigner, an assassin from the comics.
Additionally, Cosmic Circus writer Ayla made an interesting discovery last year about Marvel filming a mystery project in Iceland, and I recently found proof that it was indeed Kraven the Hunter filming there.
With the bare minimum known about the film, and a trailer still not released publicly, let’s dive into what this film could explore and the implications for the wider SSU.
Strong rating for Kraven The Hunter
An interesting footnote from CinemaCon was the revelation of the feature’s R rating. Is it surprising? Not entirely. But with Venom, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Morbius all being PG-13, the R rating puts Kraven in a weird spot.
This is not to say that some potential crossovers and cameos could be off the table, but it’s not common to see those blend within the same franchise. The only example that really stands out from Marvel is what was done with Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). He managed to appear in both Logan which was rated R and multiple X-Men films that were all PG-13. Could Kraven be next?
Beyond the film and interesting takes on Kraven
Admittedly, there’s…something in the water at the Sony offices, so it’s fruitless to try and rationalize any logic they might be attempting. In a weird sense, this is exciting because there’s no formulaic reasoning to follow. They are quite literally throwing things out there and seeing what sticks. Sony’s unpredictability makes me slightly optimistic since we could get something like never before.
The most important part of Kraven as a character is his personality towards others. More than once in the comics, Kraven has been one-upped by underestimating the sheer capability of Spider-Man. To get revenge, Kraven sedates Spider-Man so that he can impersonate Spider-Man himself. While costumed, he manages to do something Peter could not: defeating Vermin one-on-one.
Reactions like the one above could make for an interesting take on the famous hunter. I had a weird idea I shared with fellow writer Vin. Since Kraven is a hunter, what if he has a hit list of animal-inspired foes?
In addition to Rhino already confirmed in the trailer, another one that comes to mind is Morbius, with his connection to vampire bats. I can’t see any sort of connection to Venom, but I would never put it past Sony to shoehorn a reference to a symbiote. Returning to my thought process is that Morbius could be seen as some sort of threat, and would make for a good trophy to add to Kraven’s impressive collection.
Looking back at past Kraven appearances in Spider-Man projects
Now, I want to take a moment and go over other adaptations where we’ve seen Kraven before and different directions that may have been weighed. Kraven makes several appearances throughout the multiple animated series (Spider-Man 1967, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends 1981, Spider-Man: The Animated Series 1994, Spider-Man Unlimited 1999, Spider-Man: The New Animated Series 2003, The Spectacular Spider-Man 2008, Ultimate Spider-Man 2012, Avengers Assemble 2013, and Spider-Man 2017).
Hardly any of these stand out, with several of them taking very drastic artistic liberties with them. The Spectacular Spider-Man had quite the change, by making Kraven into a human-animal hybrid with leopard and cheetah DNA.
What actually is worth noting are the multiple attempts to bring him to live-action. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 introduced Kraven’s spear in a post-credits scene. The character was expected to feature prominently in Sinister Six and The Amazing Spider-Man 3; however, both films were later canceled.
We nearly had him twice in the MCU. First with Black Panther, but since the rights weren’t Disney/Marvel Studios, it couldn’t happen without Sony’s approval. Secondly, incorporating Kraven was Jon Watts’ backup plan for the sequel to Spider-Man: Far From Home, had the multiversal romp of Spider-Man: No Way Home not played out the way it ultimately did. Narratively, that idea would have made sense as well: After Peter is unmasked, who better to hunt him down than the world’s greatest hunter?
What happens now? Other Kraven the Hunter theories
So in the grand scheme of the SSU, what purpose can Kraven be playing? With minimal information on the plot, characters, and connective tissue to other titles, Kraven will most likely feel as “connective” as Venom and Morbius: standalone films with the potential of being connected someday. Alex Perez mused about what could be next for Peter Parker last October.
With the post-credits scene of Morbius, there’s a good chance that Sony wants to assemble a new villain team outside of the one used in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Kraven is a safe inclusion for a Sinister Six movie, as he was one of the founders of the original affiliation, and has been a part of Sony’s plans for the team since 2014 (via The Wrap).
In another write-up, Alex also mentions how he would like to see an attempt at Kraven’s Last Hunt. I fully agree with Alex’s idea of Peter getting the black suit first and then introducing Kraven as an antagonist. This would provide the righteousness of Kraven’s crusade to take down Peter, as we know how much a symbiote affects the psyche of the host. While it is symbiotic, there is plenty in it to make it parasitic in mental aspects.
What excites me most is the potential action scenes we could see between Spider-Man and Kraven. Especially considering how brutal and physical Kraven’s fighting style was reported to be from the CinemaCon footage.
Tom Holland’s Peter Parker had his best tussle yet during his physical fight with Willem Dafoe’s Green Goblin. Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May uttering the famous “with great power” line as she died in Peter’s arms resulted in a more emotional Peter who was about to kill the Green Goblin as revenge.
That dark vulnerability is still left unresolved in Peter after No Way Home, and that could come back out if he is faced with an appropriate danger. And when that moment comes, Kraven would be the best foe to challenge Peter Parker in a match of brute physicality.
What should we expect in Kraven The Hunter?
Well, the first thing we can safely guess is that this film should be a globe-trotter. With the Icelandic filming confirmed, that is one environment wrought with a harsh winter. A Kraven set video shows him attached to a vehicle outside of London. No confirmation if that is indeed supposed to portray the city, but background elements don’t seem changed enough to suggest that it isn’t.
On the first point, my guess is they’re using Iceland to replicate a harsh Russian winter. The latter kind of speaks for itself, he’s clearly in a big city on the open roads. Speaking of Russians, we have his half-brother and potentially father as well, so it’s safe to assume they’ll spend time in the motherland. Origin films typically have some form of clichéd flashback and it will probably be in Russia.
I’ve struggled with my ideas of what the plot could be and didn’t want to use any basis from Venom or Morbius. It’ll hit those typical beats of having twists, and it would not surprise me if they pull yet another Morbius in regard to his half-brother. What might be the most important question is if has references to the wider SSU as well as Spider-Man himself. My prediction is that it will, but it won’t be as blatant in the manner Michael Keaton’s line as Vulture “has to do with Spider-Man, I think” in the Morbius post-credits scene.
With Madame Webb as the next Sony film to follow Kraven (no, I don’t want to count El Muerto, sorry Benito), I think an explanation of multi-nanigans could be explored there.
Watch out for that stampeding Rhino!
I fully anticipate a very climactic showdown between Kraven and Rhino, it’s obvious the tease showed at CinemaCon was to entice those viewers with our second animal-themed character (Chameleon being the first). It plays into the mythos of Kraven taking on big game and there’s hardly anyone larger than Rhino himself.
With all the locales I have mentioned before, we could be setting up for some awesome one-on-ones in varying tundras (snow, desert), yet my biggest hope is we spend time in the jungle.
Something I’ve mulled over is whether the Rhino is operating separately or has some sort of backer, which could be the exact role of the Foreigner. But in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last year Rhino actor Alessandro Nivola stated, “I only transform, physically, in the final moments of the movie, so it’s just a classic villain role.” It seems this will be akin to the showdown seen in The Incredible Hulk between Bruce Banner (Edward Norton Jr.) and Abomination (Tim Roth).
The same article mentions how everything was shot on location, so this further gives credence to my desire of seeing a real globe-trotting escapade. Somehow, I don’t see Kraven taking out Rhino entirely. At most he incapacitates him, which would leave him in a shattered state needing – you guessed it – a full Rhino suit in a future appearance.
Wild cards – haha get it, because he’s a hunter, hahaha.
We’ve had Riot, Carnage, Toxin/Patrick Mulligan, Shriek, and Simon Stroud all make appearances so I wanted to throw a couple of potential cameos. First up would be Silver Sable, due to her marriage to the Foreigner if he does indeed show up.
Since Kraven is part of the Sinister Six, I’d imagine one of his contemporaries comes by at some point in a post-credits scene, my guess – Mysterio. We can’t be too sure that Jake Gyllenhaal’s Quentin Beck is actually dead. These could expand the team and fill the sixth and final roster member. Since this is Sony we are talking about, I’m predicting the following roster for a Sinister Six and the second appearance for Kraven: (Kraven the Hunter, Vulture, Mysterio, Morbius, Silver Sable, and Venom).
Are you excited to see Kraven the Hunter finally come to live action? Will you be watching this in theaters? Let us know in the comments on Twitter, or come discuss this theory with me in our Discord! And if you haven’t already, check out our article on news from the filming of Kraven the Hunter!