Sony’s Spider-Man expanded universe is a fairly bizarre corner of the realm of superhero movies. Back when Marvel’s Avengers showed what kind of money could be made with an expanded superhero universe, Sony looked at their Spider-Man playset and got a bit drunk on their own hype. Using their ill-fated Amazing Spider-Man movies as a foundation, they intended to make a bunch of spinoffs. Then it died before it could really start thanks to Amazing Spider-Man 2 being a dud that did okay blockbuster money, but not-so-okay money for a property that intended to spread its wings.
Their fortunes changed, both due to their agreement with Marvel to let Spider-Man be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and with the release of 2018’s Venom. Venom showed that they could make a successful movie based on a Spider-Man property without, y’know, actually featuring Spider-Man in it. They’re now following up on that with Venom: There Will be Carnage and Morbius. It’s even becoming apparent that these movies may sorta/kinda be attached to the MCU.
Whatever the case, their plans now include giving Kraven the Hunter his own movie. Not, say, make Kraven the villain for the next MCU Spider-Man movie. I mean putting him front-and-center where he’s the protagonist.
That’s certainly an interesting choice. Kraven is different from Venom and Morbius. Despite being Spider-Man’s Vegeta, Venom spent years being a vigilante with his own comic. Morbius has long been an antihero who occasionally interacts with Spider-Man. Kraven, on the other hand, is a full-on Spider-Man villain. He has, at most, only flirted with being a good guy.
Hey, that reminds me. Remember when Kraven and Sabretooth were on a secret Avengers team that existed at the tail end of the 1950s? No? Just me? Fair enough.
As out of left field as it is, Kraven still makes for a prime candidate to get his own movie. Get past his desire to kill Spider-Man and you have the same driven, hyper-competent, super-skilled, overly-prepared badass type that comic fans love. He’s over-the-hill Batman stomping on Superman’s face. He’s the Punisher killing the Marvel Universe. He’s Dr. Doom defeating the Beyonders. He’s the reason why the Predator went from slasher villain to a race of extraterrestrial cyphers that we cheer on.
So where do you go for inspiration for a Kraven-based movie? Here are some ideas that come to mind.
KRAVEN’S LAST HUNT
“Kraven’s Last Hunt” is THE defining Kraven storyline. It’s to Kraven what “Knightfall” is to Bane.
In it, Kraven defeats Spider-Man, buries him alive, dresses as Spider-Man, does some crimefighting, beats up a villain Spider-Man’s had issues with, feels content in his superiority, digs Spider-Man back up, and then…commits suicide.
A cool story, but how do you make it about Kraven and make it, at best, tangentially about Spider-Man? You could always try and add emphasis on Vermin and make him Kraven’s “white whale,” but would that really work in the long run?
Probably the most important aspect to translate to film would be Kraven’s complete misunderstanding of what being a superhero is about. That part where he’s wearing Spider-Man’s tights and acting like a lunatic on the streets? Take out the cosplay part and you might have something. You could effectively make the Punisher movie that nobody’s had the guts to make. The one that shows him succeeding at hunting and killing his prey, but makes it entirely apparent that this is NOT a good thing, even if the bad guys have it coming.
Seeing him utterly fall apart as a vigilante and get arrested for it would at least help work towards building that long rumored Sinister Six team-up.
Even though Sergei Kravinoff was dead for a while, he still got the Landfill from Beerfest treatment. In other words, he was replaced with another Kraven the Hunter who, for a time, was borderline interchangeable with the original.
Kraven’s son Alyosha picked up where his father left off for a while, but then decided to turn away from his life of crime. In the early 2000s, he got his own miniseries called Get Kraven, which was the only time any version of Kraven has had his own comic. The comic is about Al Kraven and his girlfriend Timber going to Hollywood with the intent of making their own movies. They end up running afoul of two brothers who are very obviously based on Harvey and Bob Weinstein.
And hey, that’s a movie concept that’s strangely relevant in today’s age. Kraven vs. Harvey Weinstein. Predator vs. Predator!
That’s pretty much the only part of the comic that is salvageable, unfortunately. The suicide jokes, rape plot point, and transphobia are best left out of well…just about anything…including a Spider-Man spinoff movie.
Anyway, Al Kraven fell into semi-obscurity and got killed off when regular Kraven was resurrected.
Ah, Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. Memories. Before it spun out of control, it was such a cool testing ground for new twists on classic characters. Years before Miles Morales became Spider-Man, it gave us the Samuel L. Jackson design for Nick Fury, Hulk as a failed super soldier experiment, and generic-looking Hawkeye. Kraven only appeared a few times, but they were memorable showings.
Initially, Kraven was a reality TV star, loosely based on the then-popularity of the late Steve Irwin. As the ultimate game hunter, he was going to chase ratings by hunting down Spider-Man. This did not work out well for Kraven as after all this hype, he chose to attack Spider-Man while the hero was rescuing people and Kraven got taken out by a single punch.
That in turn ruined Kraven and he got roped into joining the Ultimate Sinister Six. Due to desperation and the fact that he was totally out of his league against Spider-Man, Kraven started undergoing genetic experiments that turned him into something that was more beast than man.
Spider-Man has a lot of animal-themed villains and enough low-ranking ones that you could easily have Kraven spend a movie trying to hunt them down. Give him the depiction of a struggling TV star looking for new challenges and you might have a decent antihero concept.
I’ll admit that this isn’t so much a suggestion based on an existing story, but one that was hinted at.
About ten years ago, Daredevil went kind of crazy, turned into a villain, and took over Hell’s Kitchen with an army of ninjas. He later got his head on straight and left the area behind, but needed someone to take his place. Marvel built up this new series via a bunch of teaser images wondering, “Who is the New Man Without Fear?” Was it going to be Gambit? Nova? Falcon?
Kraven, fresh from being resurrected and needing a new direction in his second life, also had his own teaser image. Kraven the Hunter Without Fear? Hunting down criminals in the concrete jungle and making Wilson Fisk nervous? Trying to be a better Daredevil after once trying to be a better Spider-Man? How awesome would that have been?
Instead, the spot went to Black Panther.
Kraven still showed up during the run for a two-issue storyline based around how cool a Black Panther vs. Kraven the Hunter fight would be (enough that Ryan Coogler initially wanted this in the Black Panther movie). Otherwise, Kraven’s deal is that he’s owed a debt to a doctor that saved his life years earlier. While he has his own sense of honor to complete her mission, he’s ultimately disturbed by the doctor’s horrific actions.
Namely that she likes to create nightmarish human/animal hybrids.
Anyway, Kraven chooses to do the right thing in the end because he’s not a total dick.
THE UNHUNTABLE SERGEI
Kraven’s most optimistic days have come from his friendship with Doreen Green, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Unfortunately, while Squirrel Girl is a Steve Ditko co-creation, she probably doesn’t count as a Spider-Man-adjacent character, so we sadly won’t be seeing any movie team-ups any time soon.
Their adventures by themselves wouldn’t really make for a good Kraven movie, especially since they’re mostly based on him trying to redeem himself for his checkered past. It’s the in-between-the-lines adventures that can be mined for inspiration. At one point, Kraven decides to become the Hunter of Hunters, turning him into an on-land version of Aquaman. He’s all about kicking the asses of poachers and…er…dudes quietly minding their own business while fishing.
What’s important is that this run features the ridiculously metal Kra-Van. If anything, can we PLEASE get the Kra-Van in one of these movies? And can I have it when they’re done?