Kraven the Hunter is the latest Spider-Man rogue to nab a solo adventure.
Is Sony Pictures in the Spider-Man business? No, seriously. I’m not sure. While Peter Parker has assembled with The Avengers, and Spider-Man: Far From Home ranks as one of our most anticipated films in the next wave of the MCU, Sony seems trapped in a cycle of producing tangential Spider-Man films. Venom and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse are on the horizon and are crucial to selling this expanded universe. If they flop, Sony’s plans might be moot. If they kill at the box office, we will likely witness a torrential flood of Spidey’s rogues gallery.
We’re already waiting on Silver and Black, Silk, and Morbius: The Living Vampire. Now, according to Collider, another Spider-Man baddie is looking for the spotlight: Kraven the Hunter. And Equalizer 2 screenwriter Richard Wenk has reportedly been tapped to pen the spinoff starring the Marvel villain. Welp, we now know why Ryan Coogler was denied the character for Black Panther.
Kraven is an OG bad guy. He first appeared way back in “The Amazing Spider-Man” #15 from August 1964 and was the brainchild of Steve Ditko (RIP) and Stan Lee. He’s a Russian big game hunter that set his sights on Spider-Man after conquering every other beast on the planet. Venturing to New York City, Kraven routinely failed in mounting Parker’s head above his fireplace.
The pain of constant defeat drives him mad and most famously results in the epic 1987 showdown entitled “Kraven’s Last Hunt.” In that storyline, the hunter quickly decimates Parker, buries him alive, and dons the Spider-Man costume for nefarious purposes. Parker eventually digs himself out of the grave and battles Kraven in a deathmatch involving the creepy, rodent-like creature Vermin. “Kraven’s Last Hunt” is often hailed as one of Marvel’s finest comic book brawls and has inspired many filmmakers like Coogler to attempt inclusion for their own superhero events.
Despite three iterations of the Spider-Man universe, audiences have been denied an encounter with Kraven the Hunter. Due to Coogler’s enthusiasm for the character, I assumed we would eventually see Kraven go up against Spidey in the MCU. Once he dealt with The Vulture, Scorpion, and Mysterio. Kraven would make a perfect addition to the fabled villain supergroup the Sinister Six.
However, now that Kraven has been cornered off for a solo adventure like Venom and Morbius, the chances of an MCU appearance seem slim. During last month’s Sony panel at the San Diego International Comic-Con, Venom director Ruben Fleischer politely offered a “maybe” to his character’s possibility of squaring off against Spider-Man. Yeah, sure, someday. Whatever.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is happy to have Spider-Man swinging around his NYC, but he is incredibly tight-lipped regarding the likelihood of allowing other Sony-owned Spider-properties into his universe. Sony is desperate to convince us that they’re all one big happy family, but until we see Venom storm the Far From Home end credits, these Spider-Man spinoffs remain a separate reality.
Kraven the Hunter is a great character. He’s worthy of a face-to-face confrontation with Spider-Man. With a storyteller like Coogler behind him, how could he not be? What does a Kraven film look like without Spider-Man? I’m not sure. Although, I feel the same way about Venom, Silver and Black, Silk, and Morbius. If we take these characters at their comic book value, they cannot exist without Peter Parker.
The reality is, the comic books don’t matter, and I should stop pretending that they do. While the MCU embraces their source material, other studios have never really bothered with the origins. The films have to exist apart from the comics. Adaptation is necessary. Kraven the Hunter will have to find his way without his usual arachnid prey.