There's a new deluxe edition of "Kraven's Last Hunt" out this week, the classic Spider-Man story from writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Zeck that would define both the hero and villain for decades to come.
In addition to being a gorgeous volume for the library shelves of any superhero fan, this new printing is also a reminder of Kraven's absence from the big screen across six Spider-Man movies in 15 years. While there is still a possibility that Kraven will appear in Spider-Man: Far From Home next summer, that appears increasingly unlikely given the inclusion of Mysterio and the tendency for most Marvel Studios movies to only focus on a single major bad guy. Kraven the Hunter is too big for a henchman role like The Shocker received in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Kraven the Hunter is overdue for a movie adaptation for a lot of reasons and none of those reasons make sense for Sony producing a solo film based on the character — a project that was recently announced as moving forward. In fact, the only reasonable response we could think of for him not appearing in Spider-Man: Far From Home is that he is being saved to cap off the newest Spider-Man trilogy.
Readers not familiar with Spider-Man's comic origins may be unsure as to why this seems so obvious, which is why we're here to fill you in. Kraven the Hunter is simply one of the best Spider-Man villains around; one that brings out the best in the hero and elevates Kraven's role as antagonist. Looking ahead it's clear that he simply needs to appear in the third Spider-Man movie at Marvel Studios, and that he doesn't belong anywhere else.
A Truly Great Spider-Man Villain
Kraven has been front and center in Spider-Man's rogues gallery since the earliest days of the web-slinger's career were crafted by Steve Ditko and Stan Lee. He first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #15 seeking to hunt the ultimate game and seeing a true challenge for his skills in the stories of Spider-Man printed at The Daily Bugle. After that first battle and Kraven's defeat, he became a regularly recurring foe and a founding member of the Sinister Six. While Kraven has appeared elsewhere in Marvel Comics, becoming part of some excellent Captain America, Black Panther, and Squirrel Girl stories, he will always be a Spider-Man villain. His core motivation in life is to become the ultimate hunter and Spider-Man will always be the one who got away, an animal-human hybrid that continually tests Kraven's skills to their limit.
In addition to their historical ties, Kraven and Spider-Man are thematically bound as well. They share a surprising amount of characteristics. Both are peak human beings, individuals with strength and skill that place them on a unique tier of humanity. They also come from tragic pasts, as Kraven's abusive family left him with few relatable caregivers. Both men are incredible outsiders who chose to do very different things with their mix of power and pain. Any battle between them contrasts the generosity and communal attitude of Peter Parker against the selfishness of Kraven. In this context Kraven's urge to destroy Spider-Man isn't only about seeking a greater game, but about proving his philosophy. That is why Kraven the Hunter will always be a Spider-Man villain, no matter where else he may wander.
Some Excellent Source Material
This pairing doesn't just work in their regular encounters throughout the decades, it has also resulted in some of the best Spider-Man comics to date. "Kraven's Last Hunt" is the obvious pick, a story that isn't only the best Kraven the Hunter tale, but a top contender for Spider-Man's greatest battle. It is the story of Kraven "killing" Spider-Man, burying him alive after defeating him, and then seizing his costume to become a better Spider-Man. The comic focuses on Kraven's haunted childhood and how it still defines him today, while also making it clear what makes Spider-Man far more heroic than Kraven, even as Kraven accomplishes what Spider-Man could not. The story provides everything superhero fans could hope for from a big crossover with a classic bad guy. In addition to some truly epic battles and guest appearances, it provides a sympathetic context for the villain and defines both of the leading characters through the action itself. Even a loose adaptation of "Kraven's Last Hunt" has incredible potential for a Spider-Man movie.
That story led into a cycle, best expanded during Dan Slott's run, about the entire Kravinoff family. His children have been revealed to be equally obsessed with the hunt, twisted reflections of the father who molded, but never really loved them. It provides an added twist to the shared mythos of these two characters by making Kraven an evil counterpart to Uncle Ben as well, the terrible father who never gave his children a fair chance at life.
The Perfect Fit For This Series2comments
Introducing Kraven the Hunter to the current cycle of Spider-Man movies adds another important fold to their relationship. Tom Holland's portrayal has stressed the character's youth, making their battle between generations as well. It's not hard to discover the thematic potential in a powerful older man seeking to kill an idealistic young man and rob him of his potential. Crushing fears about the future, including a devastated planet and crushing debt, could easily be reflected through this version of Spider-Man, tying him more closely to the generation he is so obviously a part of. The Peter Parker of Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming has operated under the shadows of grown heroes in Marvel movies. A battle against Kraven specifically frames a shift in his dynamics where he seizes his own identity and place in the world, pushing back against what exists in order to battle for a better future.
When you consider the history of Kraven the Hunter, his greatest comics stories, and the clear potential for his inclusion in Marvel Studios' films, it could not be more clear that Kraven should be the next great villain that Spider-Man fights on the big screen. Not only is his appearance long overdue (somehow waiting longer than The Rhino and The Lizard), but the time has simply never been better. That's why we hope that Sony makes the right call and drops any consideration of a solo Kraven film, unless it leads directly into the third Spider-Man movie.