Sony Sneakily Hinted at Plans to Bridge Its Spider-Man Universe With the MCU Years Ago

Sony Pictures' gestating Kraven the Hunter spinoff movie previously hinted at the studio's plans to tie its own Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters to the Disney-owned Marvel Cinematic Universe. As revealed by the first trailer for Morbius, Sony's second SUMC-set Spidey spinoff following Venom, Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) has a run-in with Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), who menaced the wall-crawler (Tom Holland) as the Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. The implication: Morbius, and thus Sony's budding universe, are an extension of Marvel Studios' own interconnected franchise, tethering the living vampire and Tom Hardy's flesh-eating symbiote superhero to the reality home to Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and the Avengers.

Because the next Spider-Man will shoot over the summer in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York and Iceland — the latter resembling the homeland of the Russia-born Sergei Kravinoff, a.k.a. Spidey foe Kraven — ComicBook.com speculated Kraven could be on the hunt in the still-untitled Spider-Man 3, re-teaming Holland with Homecoming and Far From Home director Jon Watts.

Whether Kraven makes his debut in Spider-Man 3 or beyond, Sony at one time had plans to bring the super-powered hunter to the big screen for a faceoff with the webhead: in summer 2017, one month before Homecoming swung into theaters as the first Spidey solo teaming Sony and Marvel Studios, THR reported Sony was developing spinoffs centered around Kraven and another yet-to-debut foe from the comic books, Mysterio. (The fishbowl-helmeted criminal would later emerge as the primary villain in the Homecoming sequel, Far From Home, where he was played by Jake Gyllenhaal.)

By August 2018, Sony tapped Equalizer 2 scribe Richard Wenk to pen Kraven, and months later, Wenk went on record stating the character is "going to come face-to-face with Spider-Man." Additionally, Wenk added, the film belongs to the "Marvel world," but the writer didn't clarify if he meant the MCU or the less defined Marvel movie universe inspired by Marvel Comics.

Kraven was described as an "origin story" by Wenk, who added: "It'll be the first time people will see Kraven, and not the last, but it will be the first one. You just throw everything up on the wall and see the right movie to tell."

"You have to look at everything just to soak it in. I think that what we're all circling is Kraven's Last Hunt and whether this is the precursor to that movie or will include it," Wenk said of the famed comic book story that culminates with Kraven committing suicide after achieving his long-awaited victory over Spider-Man. "We're talking about those things. And even the idea that maybe Kraven could be like Kill Bill where we're basically writing two movies."

This was a puzzling proposition for many: how could Kraven, set in a seemingly separate universe, involve Spider-Man, who was at the time in the middle of a five-movie deal between Sony and Disney?

That pact expired with Far From Home, and a public divorce between the two studios ended with a renegotiated deal for Spider-Man 3 and another so far unrevealed Marvel Studios movie starring Holland's Spider-Man. Under this new deal, Disney will supply 25% of the budget and take home 25% of net gross webbed up by the Sony-distributed Spider-Man 3.

When Morbius revealed its ties to the MCU — a poster labeling Spider-Man a "murderer" as a nod to the events of Far From Home, and the spoiled Keaton cameo — it became apparent there was language in this new deal that meant Sony-controlled characters like Venom and Morbius, and possibly Kraven, will all exist within the MCU, even without Marvel's involvement.

This was also intimated by Marvel Studios president and producer Kevin Feige, who when announcing the new pact said Spider-Man "happens to be the only hero with the super power to cross cinematic universes, so as Sony continues to develop their own Spidey-verse you never know what surprises the future might hold."

It seems Sony has long had plans to attach Sony's Universe of Marvel Characters to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which may have been a point of contention in the feud that dominated headlines in 2019. This was quietly noted in a September report from Deadline, who wrote, "We hear that as Sony progresses their own Marvel universe with titles likes Venom 2 and Sinister Six, and Disney/Marvel their own, there could be a 'call and answer' between the two franchises as they acknowledge details between the two in what would loosely be described as a shared detailed universe."

It also seems the new arrangement fulfills the plans of Spider-Man producer Amy Pascal. As she said of coming spinoffs in 2017, the planned movies would "take place in the world that we are creating for Peter Parker. They’ll be adjuncts to it, they may be different locations, but it will still all be in the same world. And they will be connected to each other as well."

The Kraven front has been quiet in recent months, but Morbius will at least nod towards the character: set photos revealed a truck for "Kraven Pastries," a likely hint at what's to come.

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In July, Watts fueled speculation the character could be coming to the MCU when he said he would "love" to use Kraven as a villain in a future Spider-Man movie. Sony has yet to announce the enemy or enemies for Spider-Man 3, out July 16, 2021.

Sony is in various stages of development on multiple spinoffs, including a long-gestating Sinister Six movie. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.

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