The first teaser trailer for Sony’s Kraven the Hunter film has been unveiled – and the hunt is on to try and find something positive to say about it.
Kraven the Hunter is the latest Spider-Man villain to get the big screen treatment at Sony Pictures. And, just like the Venom and Morbius films before it, Kraven appears to have been done a disservice by the studio in his live-action debut.
Why do we say that? You’ll need to watch the trailer, which you can watch below, first. Fair warning: it’s a red band teaser, meaning it contains footage of a gory nature, so it’s probably best not to watch this during work or school hours:
If your first thought after watching it was “That doesn’t look good” or “How generic can you be?”, you hold the same opinion as countless others who posted similar reactions online in the wake of the trailer’s release.
Plenty of Spider-Man and/or comic book fans – myself included – have been left baffled by the decision to turn Kraven into a superpowered being who can telepathically speak to animals. This is nothing new in the larger superhero space, granted. Aquaman has been able to ‘talk’ to fish since he made his DC Comics debut. As for Marvel Comics, the likes of Squirrel Girl, Moonstar, and even the X-Men’s Professor X can communicate with critters big and small.
But Kraven the Hunter has never been able to chat to animals. In fact, he’s not even a superpowered member of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. Yes, he possesses abilities that make him a formidable opponent for the webslinger, including being an expert hand-to-hand combatant, skilled tracker and hunter (obviously), and weapons specialist. He’s also incredibly strong, but his strength doesn’t come from a scientific experiment gone wrong. He’s just a physically imposing, muscularly powerful being.
Sony’s decision to turn him into a superpowered being, then, neglects what makes him such a unique Spider-Man foe. Kraven is an enemy who relies on his smarts and non-superpowered means to get the better of Spider-Man. In his forthcoming movie, though, Kraven acquires superhuman abilities when a drop of lion’s blood enters his bloodstream through an open wound, which imbues him with his powers. It’s a plot point conveniently copied from Sony’s Morbius movie, which completely bombed at the 2022 box office despite a viral fan campaign – none of us will forget “It’s Morbin’ Time” in a hurry – that attempted to boost ticket sales.
Villains aren’t born. They’re made. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is #KravenTheHunter – exclusively in movie theaters October. pic.twitter.com/EFYoVYceK8June 19, 2023
The ‘gaining superpowers’ scene isn’t the only similarity I noticed between Morbius’ and Kraven’s first teasers. Each trailer contains footage of their titular anti-hero taking out a bunch of gun-wielding thugs in dimly lit corridors, groan-inducing dialog, and potential love interests who don’t have (or, in Kraven’s case, don’t appear to have) big roles to play in the wider narrative. Add in some middling action scenes, plus the compulsory superpowered antagonist – in Kraven’s case, he’ll be fighting another prominent Spider-Man foe in Rhino – and I wouldn’t be surprised if Kraven the Hunter struggles to earn its money back upon release.
True, Sony Pictures has previous form for altering the origin stories of its Spider-Man villain-starring movies. And yes, it can argue that, despite the fact Spider-Man didn’t appear in 2018’s Venom, the Tom Hardy-starring flick was a resounding commercial success. It might not have wowed critics, but its $856.1 million box office taking speaks for itself.
Even so, based on the footage I’ve seen, things don’t look good for Kraven the Hunter. It comes across as another average, by-the-numbers superhero film from Sony along the lines of Venom: Let There Be Carnage and Morbius. I simply can’t get excited by it, even if it’ll be a more brutal and graphically violent movie than its siblings.
When I consider how amazing Sony’s animated Spider-Man movies are, such as the absolutely stunning Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, I’ve got to wonder why Sony doesn’t lean into more of this kind of filmmaking. Its live-action Spider-Man Universe films have flattered to deceive (and that’s being kind). The more of them that fail to make a dent at the box office, too, the less excited I’ll be about Sony’s slate of forthcoming Spider-Man-based Prime Video TV shows, too, including Silk and Spider-Man Noir. I expect Sony will continue to pursue its live-action Spider-Man Universe movies but, if they keep being divided from Sony’s partnership with Marvel and the MCU, I fear we’ll see more bland villain-centric offerings that are nothing more than rehashed versions of Morbius.
For more Spider-Man coverage, find out how to watch the Spider-Man movies in order. Alternatively, find out what the best Spider-Man movies are, or read our exclusive chat with Across the Spider-Verse’s directors on its development.