Word broke Monday actor Jake Gyllenhaal is in talks with Sony and Marvel Studios to join the Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel as Quentin Beck, a.k.a. Mysterio — but could the Spidey sequel see Tom Holland's teenaged superhero pitted against the master of illusions and Kraven the Hunter?
In June 2017, just before Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios co-production Spider-Man: Homecoming swung into theaters, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Sony was planning projects — presumed spinoffs — that would "focus on" long-time Spider-Man foes Kraven the Hunter and Mysterio.
Sony holds the screen rights to Spider-Man and his ancillary characters, including his expansive rogues gallery, allowing Disney-owned Marvel Studios to use select characters — like Homecoming bad guy the Vulture (Michael Keaton), also confirmed to be returning for the sequel.
It's why Sony forged ahead with Tom Hardy-led Venom, the first installment of their "Sony Marvel Universe," set apart from Marvel Studios' interconnected universe.
Ceding control to Marvel Studios for Homecoming, Sony let Spider-Man take part in the shared Marvel Cinematic Universe and crossovers like Avengers: Infinity War in exchange for Spidey's solo profits and the benefit of using popular Disney-Marvel characters like Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) in their Spider-Man standalones.
As we now know, Mysterio will menace the webhead in Spider-Man 2 — suggesting whatever plans for a Sony Mysterio-centric spinoff were abandoned or the character was already reserved for the Homecoming sequel.
Maybe Sony was looking to develop a project like Venom starring Kraven, or maybe the unnamed project meant to "focus on" Kraven and Mysterio was always Spider-Man 2.
In July, asked by Variety about Sony's plans for the super-powered hunter, Columbia Pictures president Sanford Panitch said of Kraven, "He's an awesome character. Let's just leave it at that."
Black Panther director Ryan Coogler revealed in February that, in the earliest stages of pre-production on his movie, he wanted to use Kraven — who battled T'Challa in Christopher Priest's famed run of the Black Panther comics — only to learn the character was off-limits because of what Coogler called "contractual things."
"I've always loved Kraven the Hunter in almost every iteration. So there was a moment, 'Can I grab Kraven?'" Coogler recalled to Yahoo! Movies UK.
"And they were like, 'Nah, you don't have Kraven.' He was one where I thought 'Oh, man.' But I don't even know if he would have worked in the movie we ended up with, this was the early days."
Kraven's rights lie with Sony, which would have prohibited his use in Black Panther — and it seems the studio has had plans for the character as far back as 2014, when the villain was one of several Sinister Six members, along with Mysterio, to receive a nod in the end credits of The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
At the time, the studio famously hoped and planned to launch a Sinister Six movie before the Marc Webb and Andrew Garfield duology was cancelled, and Spider-Man subsequently rebooted in favor of joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a new iteration, which he did in 2016's Captain America: Civil War.
More recently, in March, Jason Bourne star Matt Damon reportedly passed on the villain role in Spider-Man 2, indicating Sony and Marvel first eyed Damon for Mysterio — or they wanted Damon to play someone else. Maybe someone like Sergei Kravinoff, a dangerous hunter who preys upon and becomes obsessed with besting the super-powered Spider-Man.
In April, Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige confirmed Spider-Man will be traveling beyond Queens as "he'll spend some time in other parts of the globe."3comments
Spider-Man 2's filming will take the wall-crawler to cities across the globe — including Atlanta, Berlin, and London, with Venice and Prague also named as filming locations — which could hint at a villain with an international flavor.
The Spider-Man: Homecoming sequel swings into theaters July 5, 2019.