And the SPUMC keeps coming! Okay, that was a terrible intro and I regret everything, but what I was trying to say is the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters is still moving along doing its own thing despite rumours that some aspects of the studio’s Spider-Man related productions will get folded into a corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And to really drive home that Sony’s films are unconnected from the MCU, the studio has officially announced via press release that Aaron Taylor-Johnson has now been cast in the lead role of the long-gestating Kraven the Hunter film.
Taylor-Johnson first broke onto the scene in the comic book adaptation Kick-Ass before doubling down on the superhero roles by also playing Petro Maximoff aka Quicksilver in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. While that character died in that movie, Taylor-Johnson’s appearance is still very much canon (despite the recent WandaVision shenanigans) which means his Kraven will probably not be sharing a screen with Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, which is a shame.
As the holders of Spider-Man’s cinematic rights, Sony may allow Holland’s web-slinger to appear in the MCU as part of a co-production deal with Marvel, but they’ve kept pretty much all the ancillary Spider-Man characters to themselves to develop as separate standalone features. Kraven is one of those that has been in development for ages now. Before this announcement, the last news we heard was in mid-2020 when J.C. Chandor (Triple Frontier, A Most Violent Year) was tapped to direct but casting the lead had still been a problem. However, Taylor-Johnson is currently shooting Sony’s Bullet Train, director David Leitch’s star-packed action ensemble about a group of assassins who find themselves with overlapping missions on the same train. Taylor-Johnson plays one of the assassins and Deadline reports that Sony brass were so impressed with his work thus far, especially his scenes with Brad Pitt, that they immediately got him chatting to Chandor about the possibility of playing Kraven. The two men reportedly hit it off right away and a deal was signed shortly thereafter. The Wrap reports that the deal will lock Taylor-Johnson in for multiple pictures, but that’s pretty standard for comic book fare nowadays.
As for Kraven himself, as Sony describes in its press release, he “is one of Marvel’s most iconic and notorious antiheroes, who has encountered Venom and Black Panther, among many others, as well as being one of Spider-Man’s best known and most formidable enemies.” Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and debuting in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man in 1964, Russian aristocrat Sergei Kravinoff aka Kraven the Hunter is a big game hunter who views Spider-Man as his potential biggest trophy, thinking that if he can bag the superhero, it will prove him to be the greatest hunter in the world. While Kraven started off as a regular hunter using traditional weapons, he would soon develop a penchant for hunting and taking down his prey using simply his bare hands. To aid in this, he consumed a voodoo potion that gave him the proportionate strength, speed, and senses of a large jungle cat, while also preternaturally extending his life.
Kraven has been a mainstay Spider-Man villain for decades and one of the founding members of the Sinister Six. He was also the centre of the iconic “Kraven’s Last Hunt”, the 1987 comic book crossover that is widely considered one of the greatest Spider-Man stories of all time and is still fantastic reading to this day. More recently “Hunted”, a spiritual success to “Kraven’s Last Hunt”, was published in 2019 and it… well, it’s a bit of a mess. There’s Kraven, his daughter, his clones (don’t ask), Hunter-Bots, just about every single animal-themed superhero or supervillain you can think of, and that bowtie-wearing lame villain Arcade. It’s all over the place. Basically what I’m saying is that I hope the screenwriting team of Art Marcum & Matt Holloway (Iron Man) and Richard Wenk (The Expendables 2, The Equalizer) just stick to the former story for inspiration on this movie. Just how they will introduce an antihero/villain like Kraven without his superhero opposite in Spider-Man still remains to be seen. But hey, if it worked for Venom…?
Kraven the Hunter is currently scheduled for release on 13 January 2023.
Last Updated: May 28, 2021