The first trailer for Sony’s upcoming Kraven the Hunter solo film has confirmed that the origins of the silver screen version of the classic Spider-Man villain will deviate significantly from his original comic book incarnation.
Released on June 19th, the trailer for Sony’s latest entry into their ‘Spider-Man Cinematic Universe Without Spider-Man’ opens on a panoramic view of London before focusing in on the film’s titular villain-slash-protagonist himself, as portrayed by Godzilla (2014) and Avengers: Age of Ultron star Aaron-Taylor Johnson.
Looking out over a city street, Kraven is seen using his ‘tracking skills’ – more on that in a bit – to pinpoint the location of a van full of criminals, which he then proceeds to chase down on foot before ripping his way into the vehicle.
As he does so, the voice of his father – as brought to life by Russel Crowe – begins to ring through his head.
“My son, never show mercy,” explains the man assumed to be the film’s incarnation of Grand Duke Nikolai Kravinoff as the trailer flashes back to the moment when he first conveyed this lesson to his son over the corpse of a recently-hunted African lion. “They are prey. We are predators.”
Flashing forward, audiences are then presented with a young Kraven and his brother – possibly the film’s version of The Chameleon – receiving a spot of bad news from their father.
“Your mother is dead,” he tells the young boys, to which Kraven responds, “She died because you sent her away.” “She was weak,” his father shoots back. “Sick in her mind.”
“Power is about strength,” the presumptive Nikolai continues over a montage of him engaging in criminal activity and physically abusing Kraven. “If you show weakness, you will give our enemies an opening.”
Putting a period on Nikolai’s words, the trailer then cuts to a scene of a young Kraven, rifle in hand, coming face-to-face with another respective African lion.
Failing to heed his father’s commands to “shoot”, the boy is suddenly pounced upon by the jungle cat, who proceeds to violently thrash him before leaving him for dead.
But as the lion stands triumphant above his sufficiently-mauled prey, a single drop of its blood can be seen dripping into one of Kraven’s open wounds, imbuing him with what appears to be heightened senses and a connection to animals.
“I stared death in the face,” an adult Kraven can then be heard recapping the event as he gears up for a hunt, “and for the first time, I saw my true self.”
To this end, a character known as The Foreigner (Christopher Abbott) further explains of Kraven’s abilities, “They say he uses a connection with animals to track his pray, and once you’re on his list, there’s only one way off.”
After using his ‘connection to animals’ to assess the situation through the eyes of a nearby bird of prey, a fully-equipped Kraven is then shown standing defiant in front of a pair of trucks, its occupants presumably some type of animal poachers.
Meeting their taunts by tearing through them in a brutal, savage, and appropriately animalistic fashion, replete with Kraven ripping off a man’s nose with his teeth, the film’s protagonist then provides a brief explanation of his motives.
Asked “Why do you hunt?” by the film’s take on classic Kraven antagonist Calypso Zili (Ariana DeBose), the Hunter answers, “My father puts evil in this world, I take it out,” – an ostensible confirmation that, in another change from his comic book counterpart, he will be portrayed as beginning his costumed career as an anti-hero rather than an outright ‘villain’.
As the trailer begins to draw to a close, it presents one final bloody montage showcasing the range of Kraven’s athletic abilities from wielding bear traps as handheld weapons to spearing a man with a blunt iron rod, all the while his brother laments, “You think you have some kind of honor. You’re exactly like our father. Just another man, hunting for a trophy.”
Following its reveal of the film’s official titlecard, the trailer ultimately comes to a close with the brief introduction of one of the film’s primary antagonists, Aleksei Sysevich (Alessandro Nivola).
Standing alone in a windowless room, Sysevich laughs to himself before seemingly ‘unlocking’ his own powers. “There is an animal in each one of us,” he taunts before proceeding to ask “Don’t you want to see why they call me ‘The Rhino’?” as his skin begins to harden.
As noted above, Kraven’s cinematic origin will differentiate heavily from his original Marvel Comics depiction.
First introduced in the fifteenth issue of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s original Amazing Spider-Man run, Kraven’s “undreamed-of strength and speed” were the result of his consuming “a secret potion, stolen from the witch-doctor of a hidden African tribe” (who would later be revealed to be Calypso).
While later adventures would see this skill set expanded to also include superhuman senses, at no point were they ever shown to have altered his DNA and turned him into an outright superhuman. In fact, the potion’s effects were only ever temporary, with Spider-Man even using its unreliable effects to defeat Kraven in his very first appearance.
However, the most significant change in terms of his physical abilities is Kraven’s new The Falcon-esque ‘connection with animals’, as outside of maybe less than ten (at best) multiverse variants – fun fact: one of them is Lethal, the Amalgam Universe result of his fusion with DC’s Cheeath – outright super powers have never, ever been a part of the Hunter’s arsenal.
Another new twist to Kraven’s original incarnation is his characterization as a ‘noble ecowarrior’ who fights for the planet and its animals.
Originally, Kraven was merely a man who sought to prove himself the most capable apex predator on the planet, with his ambitions eventually bringing him humiliation after he set his sights on besting Spider-Man.
While this would remain his origin for the nearly three decades following his debut, it would be given a slight revision in 1994’s Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1 #389 when it was revealed that Kraven’s lofty goal was partly inspired by his desire to restore honor to the fallen Kravinoff name following his family’s exile from Russia.
In fact, this aspect of his character would not be introduced until 2016’s Howard the Duck Vol. 6 #6, wherein Kraven vowed to Squirrel Girl that, in light of his recent kidnapping and hunting for sport alongside some of Marvel’s various animal and animal-adjacent characters, he would become “the Hunter of Hunters!”
While Kraven’s ‘new leaf’ would spend the next few years relegated to brief mentions in The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, it would finally be folded into his canon proper with 2019’s Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 5 #16, which sees the Hunter dedicate himself to eliminating poachers in order to bring honor back to ‘the Hunt’.
Helmed by Triple Frontier director J.C. Chandor, Kraven the Hunter is currently set to escape the jungle on October 6th.