Sergei Kravinoff, a.k.a. Kraven the Hunter, is one of Spider-Man’s most dangerous villains. He may not be powerful and bloodthirsty like Carnage or a brilliant scientist like Doctor Octopus, but the combination of his determination, tactical mind, and his vast experience as a hunter allowed him to become one of Spider-Man’s memorable threats.
Kraven and his parents Nikolai and Anna, who were Russian aristocrats, fled their country during the Russian Revolution in 1917. Orphaned shortly after, Sergei traveled around the world in ships and trains, but eventually he found a place where he felt at home: Africa. It was there that Sergei Kravinoff would become Kraven the Hunter, and then go on to become one of Spider-Man’s noteworthy rogues.
A Spider-Man reboot will open in theaters in 2017. At the time of writing this, details about the movie are still limited. It’s known Tom Holland has been cast as Spider-Man, Jon Watts will direct, and there will be an emphasis on Peter Parker’s life in High School, but there’s no official word yet on who the villain will be. According to one rumor, the reboot’s big bad will be Kraven the Hunter. Kraven has a lot of potential as a villain in the Spider-Man reboot, and just in case it does turn out he’s the film’s antagonist, we want to make sure you’re knowledgeable about the character!
So, we’ve compiled 10 Facts You Need To Know About Kraven.
Lee & Ditko introduced him in ASM #15
Kraven the Hunter made his first appearance in Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s 1964 comic The Amazing Spider-Man #15. The co-creators reportedly drew inspiration from Richard Connell’s 1924 The Most Dangerous Man; however, Lee and Ditko have never confirmed this. In the comic, Kraven went to New York because his half-brother, Dmitri Smerdyakov, a.k.a. the Chameleon, told him about Spider-Man and just how big of a challenge the wall-crawler could offer. This was, of course, a selfish move on Chameleon’s part, because he wanted Spider-Man out of the way, but he also knew Kraven is someone who would relish the opportunity to take on such a hero.
In their first encounter, Kraven hit Spider-Man with a nerve punch, disabling one of his arms, but even with just one arm, Spider-Man’s strength was too much for Kraven to overcome. Upon realizing he can’t win with just his fists, Kraven resorted to slashing Spider-Man with a poisoned blade, which weakened him. After that, the two go their separate ways and despite Kraven having several advantages in their rematch – like traps, a home-field advantage, and Chameleon working with him – the villain still ended up trapped in Spider-Man’s webbing. Instead of going to jail, Kraven and Chameleon were deported and told to not come back to the United States. Kraven was never seen or heard from again. Just kidding, obviously.
He took his own life
Doctor Octopus isn’t the first “superior” villainous version of Spider-Man. In 1987’s Kraven’s Last Hunt, by writer J. M. DeMatteis and artist Mike Zeck, Kraven finally proved to himself that he is “better” than Spider-Man. After he tagged the web-slinger in the neck with a dart, Kraven defeated and then buried Spider-Man while the hero was incapacitated but still alive. While Spidey spent two weeks in a grave, Kraven slipped into his own Spider-Man costume to prove he can not only replace the hero, but also be an *ahem* superior Spider-Man.
In an attempt to prove to himself that he’s better than Spider-Man, he defeated Vermin – a deadly character who Spider-Man couldn’t defeat without help from Captain America. Finally feeling complete, Kraven swore he would never hunt again before he put a rifle in his mouth and pulled the trigger. There’s, of course, much more to the story and we strongly recommend reading it for yourself, but that’s the basic gist of the dark tale. Very few characters in the Marvel Universe remain dead, though…
He’s physically impressive
Kraven isn’t your ordinary human. Thanks to an herbal potion he stole from a witch doctor in Africa, Kraven’s physicality is enhanced and his aging has been significantly slowed down – he looks like a man in his 30s, yet he has decades of experience hunting all over the planet. Sergei can lift approximately 2 tons, and he loves to boast about his ability to drop a Bull Elephant with a single punch. The potion also gives him boosted agility and reflexes, as well as the ability to sprint at 60 miles per hour. On top of that, Kraven is far more durable than he looks. He may not be as durable as someone like Luke Cage or Tombstone, but he can withstand an impressive amount of blunt force trauma.
To defeat Kraven, Spidey once claimed he had to use a punch that would stagger the Hulk, and Harry Osborn once said that punching Kraven in the face – which the villain didn’t even seem to feel – was “like hitting an Elephant’s hide.” Kraven isn’t as strong or as fast as Spider-Man, but his physicality combined with his intellect, technical skill as a combatant, and variety of weaponry makes him a villain that not many heroes should take lightly.
Reluctantly returned from the grave
Death often isn’t permanent in comic books. When there’s magic, time travel, a variety of powers, and brilliant advances in technology, there are so many ways to bring someone back from the dead. In 2010’s Grim Hunt, Kraven’s family – led by his wife, Sasha – organized an elaborate plan to weaken Spider-Man and his allies. The family of villains then wanted to use the wall-crawler’s blood in a ritual to bring Sergei back to life. (They discovered that using anyone else’s blood won’t restore Kraven properly.) But the family didn’t get Spider-Man’s blood, and they didn’t bother to think about whether or not Kraven wanted to come back to life, either.
To save a drugged and disoriented Peter Parker from the villains, Kaine – who is Spider-Man’s clone – took Spider-Man’s outfit and continued the fight against the evil group. Kaine was killed in the battle (don’t worry, he comes back later) and it was his blood that was used to bring Sergei back from the dead. These events cursed Kraven with the “unlife“, meaning he can only be killed by Spider-Man (or one of his clones). To say Kraven was dissatisfied with his family for bringing him back would be a massive understatement, and he attempted to make Spider-Man kill him after their relatively brief fight. Spider-Man refused, of course, and Kravinoff went to the Savage Land with Sasha and his children: Ana, Alyosha, and Vladimir.
Kraven’s plan was simple: he wants his family to survive in the Savage Land because it will make them stronger. Sasha found the idea to be outrageous, and Kraven responded by swiftly killing her. This angered Vladmir, and Kraven regretfully took the life of his favorite son. After the violent events, Alyosha ran away, but Ana remained, expressing determination to prove to her father that she’s worthy of being a Kravinoff. Kraven then gave her a twisted objective: kill or be killed by Alyosha. The remaining child will help him rebuild the family’s legacy.
He was an “Avenger”
Sergei Kravinoff became part of Nick Fury’s special operations team called “the Avengers” back in 1959. Working with Sabretooth, Namora, Dominick Fortune, and several others, the team worked to defeat a mysterious organization that was making use of several ex-Nazis.
The most interesting takeaway from Avengers 1959, Howard Chaykin’s five-issue limited series, is that Sergei had a relationship with Namor’s cousin, Namora. Sabretooth’s comments to Namora further fueled an already hostile relationship Sergei had with the Wolverine villain. It’s not specified why they loathe one another, but it’s implied they previously encountered in Africa, and seeing as Victor is holding a grudge, it’s safe to assume Sergei got the better of the clawed-man with accelerated healing.
In the comic, Kraven uses guns multiple times. Kraven isn’t opposed to using firearms, but when he does use them, they’re often loaded with tranquilizers or something similar to them – not bullets. It’s just too bad Kraven’s dynamic with Sabretooth was never fully explored. There’s definitely a story there that’s just begging to be told.
He had four children (and adopted an alien)
Kraven’s family could be the focus of many Jerry Springer episodes. He had four children: Alyosha, Ana, Vladimir, and Nedrocci. Kraven had Vladimir with his wife, Sasha, and he made sure the child was raised to be a superb hunter. Kraven’s servant, Gregor, had a close relationship with the child and greatly assisted in the boy’s training. Vladimir would go on to become the Grim Hunter and was eventually killed by Kaine, who’s a clone of Spider-Man. (He was resurrected for Grim Hunt, but he came back as a large lion-like creature, and was eventually put down by his own father.) Kraven had Alyosha with an unknown mutant, and that child was sent to Africa. Kraven would visit, but the two didn’t have a close relationship.
After Kraven took his own life, Alyosha returned to the United States in hopes of learning more about his distant and now deceased father. Aloysha would go on to become the second Kraven the Hunter. He had enhanced physicality thanks to his father’s frequent use of potions, as well as the mutant ability to communicate with and control animals thanks to his mother. Alyosha briefly tried to make it in Hollywood, and that’s where he bumped into his half-brother, Nedrocci. Ned attempted to kill Alyosha, but his uncle, Chameleon, saved him. Ana, the daughter of Sergei and Sasha, followed in her father’s footsteps and went after Spider-Man. After the events in Grim Hunt, she killed her half-brother, Alyosha, and started training with her father. She also has boosted physicality and is an incredibly dangerous and talented hunter. There’s also a clone of Kraven, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Kraven also became the adoptive father to a mighty alien named Gog. Kraven went to the Savage Land with one objective: to conquer it. He stumbled upon a downed spaceship, and found Gog while the alien was still young and quite small. The extraterrestrial aged rapidly and continued to grow until it towered over him. Kraven and the ginormous alien were eventually defeated by Ka-Zar and Spider-Man.
Only Spider-Man (or one of his clones) can kill Kraven
Kraven accomplished his ultimate goal by besting Spider-Man. He took his own life because he thought he had nothing left to live for, but his family thought otherwise. Because of the ritual that was used to resurrect the hunter, only Spider-Man – or a clone of Spidey – can permanently end Kraven’s life. Spider-Man refused to cross that line, and Kraven eventually sought out Kaine, who was Scarlet Spider at the time. Kraven hoped Scarlet Spider would be willing to kill him – especially after putting Kaine’s friends in danger – but he had no such luck… not permanently, that is. Kaine did strike Kraven with a blow that stopped his heart, but the clone then jump-started Kraven’s heart with his superhuman strength.
Kraven continued to search for new ways to end his life and he was unable to find a satisfying answer each and every time. This mission also pulled him into a conflict with Black Panther and Storm, as well as Flash Thompson’s Venom. He’s been stabbed in the heart twice, but nothing outside of a fatal blow from Spider-Man or one of his clones will keep Kraven down for the count. Oddly enough, it was Squirrel Girl who finally gave the hunter a much-needed epiphany. Now that he’s unkillable, why not go after bigger and more challenging targets? Now that Marvel has formed a new Battleworld, we could definitely see Kraven – and Ana – exploring the planet as they look for new and more dangerous opponents to hunt.
He hunted the Hulk
Kraven has gone after Spider-Man countless times before. He’s taken on Daredevil. He’s hunted Tigra. But in Jason Aaron and Dalibor Talajic’s The Incredible Hulk #11, Kraven went after his most frightening and powerful target yet: the Hulk! Kraven vs. the Hulk isn’t a fair fight, and that’s something Sergei is well aware of. Instead of thinking he could truly defeat the green goliath, Kraven only wanted to momentarily trap the Hulk and strike a deal with him.
Knowing Bruce Banner was looking for the hidden city of Sasquatches, Kraven shot the Hulk in the face with a bear-trap bazooka to briefly distract him, and then followed-up by tangling the titan in a series of adamantium fishhooks. Kraven offered to help locate the city, and all he wanted in return was one thing: death. Kraven knew Hulk is allies with Spider-Man, so he hoped the large hero could talk Spider-Man into finally ending the hunter’s life. Hulk never goes on to have a talk with the web-head, but he did smash Kraven and then brutally threw him a great distance. The experience surely hurt Kraven, but it did not kill him.
Sony had plans for Kraven
Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is heading to the Marvel Cinematic Universe! This news generated overwhelmingly positive reactions, but it also brought an end to the Spider-Man universe Sony was building. The studio had big plans to expand the superhero’s world (whether or not said plans were good is a whole other story), and those plans included a Sinister Six spin-off movie. Outside of it being written by Drew Goddard, little is known about the now-cancelled project.
However, The Amazing Spider-Man 2’s credits did include a teaser, and it briefly revealed that Kraven the Hunter would be on the evil team’s roster. Kraven is one of the original members of the Sinister Six and this movie would have marked his cinematic debut (unless he was to play a role in a third Sony Spidey movie that opened before it, that is). Goddard has expressed interest in working on a Sinister Six, so the potential for the team to appear still exists. If Kraven is the villain in the Spider-Man reboot, one can only assume he would be on the team if it is ever formed in the MCU. And maybe – just maybe – if we’re truly fortunate, they’ll build up to a movie inspired by Kraven’s Last Hunt.
Worked with Mr. Sinister against the X-Men
The original X-Men once had the misfortune of being hunted by Kraven. The devious Mister Sinister is obsessed with genetic manipulation and he always has his eye on the X-Men. Instead of getting blood samples from them directly, the evildoer hired Kraven to fetch it from each of the original X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel, and Iceman). After some planning, Kraven was able to lure the X-Men – and Spider-Man – into a battle with the Blob. As chaos erupted, Kraven was able to engage each of the mutants and escaped with blood samples from each one. Being able to draw blood from each hero – and get away with it – is a great display of his skill and abilities as a tactician because, obviously, the team has a variety of powers that aren’t easy to overcome.
Eventually Mister Sinister used the blood samples – along with a sample of the Carnage symbiote – to create Xraven, a clone of Kraven who has the powers of the original X-Men. He has Beast’s stamina, Cyclops’ optic blasts, a limited degree of Jean Grey’s mental powers, Iceman’s ability to create cold projectiles, and presumably Angel’s aerial adaptation. As if all of that didn’t make him intimidating enough, he also has the skill and mentality of Kraven. He eventually turned on Mister Sinister when he discovered the villain’s true intentions. It’s unclear whether or not Xraven survived the explosive encounter with the powerful Mister Sinister.
Those are just ten of the many facts you need to know about Kraven the Hunter. Only time will tell whether or not he’ll appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but if he does indeed show up, we want to make sure you know your stuff! If you want to have a better understanding of the character, we strongly recommend reading Kraven’s Last Hunt and Grim Hunt. If you think an important fact was left out of the article, please share it in the comments!
Captain America: Civil War will release on May 6, 2016, followed by Doctor Strange– November 4, 2016; Guardians of the Galaxy 2 – May 5, 2017; Spider-Man – July 28, 2017; Thor: Ragnarok – November 3, 2017; Black Panther – February 16, 2018; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 – May 4, 2018; Ant-Man and the Wasp – July 6, 2018; Captain Marvel – March 8, 2019; The Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 – May 3, 2019; Inhumans – July 12, 2019; and as-yet untitled Marvel movies on May 1, July 10 and November 6, 2020.