Kraven The Hunter is a Marvel villain whose sole reason for existing is to hunt and kill the biggest and most dangerous game. His obsession leads him to hunt and eventually kill Spider-Man in Kraven’s Last Hunt. He’s decidedly a lousy guy and one of the few villains to kill their hero antagonist. He also wears the skins of the dead animals he kills as vests, pants, and such. I’m trying to say he sucks. He is, after all, supposed to suck. Bad guys are bad, so you root against them.
Kraven The Hunter, Anti-Hero
According to Variety, the upcoming Kraven the Hunter film by Sony has a very different take on our big game hunter. Star Aaron Taylor Thomas said the character is
“not an alien, or a wizard. He’s just a hunter, a human with conviction. An animal lover and a protector of the natural world. He’s a very, very cool character.”
I am pretty sure that entire sentence contradicts itself at every turn. How can someone be a hunter, an animal lover, and also a protector of the natural world? Doesn’t being a hunter negate the following two descriptions? The upcoming Kraven film will follow Sony’s apparent mandate that all popular Spider-Man villains must become a hero. I can only assume this is a reaction to having the license for these characters, a reaction to the success of DC Comics’ Joker solo film, and Marvel’s success with their Spider-man films.
My confusion comes with the drastic change in the characterization of Kraven The Hunter. He’s a straightforward villain, not an anti-hero. You can probably make a case for both Venom and Morbius being anti-heroes at some point in their comics tenure (also, both solo Sony Spider-Man spin-off films). Unless Mr. Thomas is entirely unaware of what he filmed, he’s a pretty reliable source for how Kraven is portrayed, and so far, it doesn’t sound like Kraven at all.
Kraven in name alone
So my question is, who are the movies for exactly? If you decide to use iconic comic book characters, I would assume you are trying to entice comic book enthusiasts. My wife has no idea who Kraven The Hunte is, nor would she take a second look at a movie starring him. So I assume this is targeting nerds like me, correct? If this is accurate, why is Sony doing this to us? Who continues to greenlight these strange departures from characters we love? If you want to make a film about a conservationist who does terrible things to stop worse people, why not create a new character? Retconning Kraven into that role seems disingenuous and draws ire from the intended audience.
Venom caught a lucky break at the box office by tapping into the RomCom market that didn’t know they wanted a Venom film. And that’s great, but the rest of us who grew up with Venom as Spider-Man’s greatest albatross left the theater disappointed (those of us not interested in an Eddie + Brock love story, that is). Morbius showed up next and appealed to no one. It was not well met and memed back into theaters where it bombed again. To top it off, they dragged poor Michael Keaton into that mess and made Vulture look confused and silly. Now we as fans must endure another reimagined version of a classic character that, honestly, no one wanted.
What I’m Kraven
As a fan of Spider-Man, a well-made Sinister Six franchise would be a much more interesting take. How do you make a movie about a villain, keep their evil personas, and still be the main character? It’s an exciting writing challenge, and the payoff would be huge (cough Joker). These recent “anti-hero” films feel more like the easy way out than an “interesting take.” Because Sony can’t, for whatever reason, use Spider-Man in these films, it leaves a vital portion of the character’s mythos in the pages of the comics they hope to reference.
Venom’s whole schtick is he’s a reaction to Spider-Man. The symbiote is a monstrous abomination mimicking Spider-Man’s every move. Down to using its tendrils as webbing, which the symbiote certainly does not need to do. It knows Peter so well it can mask itself from his Spidey Sense and lives to torment our friendly neighborhood hero. Without that, it’s just a space parasite bothering Eddie Brock for no reason. Kraven, without his lust for hunting Spider-Man, is just some weirdo in dead animal print. If you take away his genuine passion for hunting any animal, is it even Kraven?
I hope the movie is good, I really do. Every bad comic book adaptation makes it harder to greenlight good ones. I wish no ill will on Sony’s Anti-hero multiverse. I’m confounded about who they are trying to appeal to, however. I thought it was me, but they were waving at someone behind me, and now I feel stupid.