Spider-Man (Tom Holland) is finally going to become a part of the evergrowing Marvel Cinematic Universe. The quick-witted wall-crawler will make his big screen debut in Anthony and Joe Russo's Captain America: Civil War, and he will then receive his own spin-off movie in 2017. The currently untitled Spider-Man reboot will be directed by Jon Watts (Cop Car) and co-written by John Francis Daley and Jonathan M.Goldstein.
The immensely popular hero existing in the same world as Earth's Mightiest Heroes is exciting news for many Marvel fans, but much of Spidey's reboot still remains a mystery. It's known that this Spider-Man will be younger and there will be an emphasis on Peter Parker's life in high school, but who will be the first villain to oppose him? Spider-Man has plenty of interesting foes in his rogues gallery, and it's rumored that Sergei Kravinoff, a.k.a. Kraven the Hunter will be the big bad in Spider-Man. Kraven has made a number of animated appearances, but this would be the dangerous fiend's live-action debut.
Many fans are familiar with J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck's excellent story Kraven's Last Hunt. However, before Kraven buried Spider-Man alive, he made his first appearance back in Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Amazing Spider-Man #15. In the issue, the Spider-Man villain Chameleon - who happens to be Kraven's half-brother - has his plan foiled by the friendly neighborhood hero. Chameleon is able to slip away, and he realizes he's going to need to some extra help if he wants Spider-Man out of the way. Who has what it takes to bring down the agile and strong hero, though? According to Chameleon, Kraven - a physically impressive hunter who is always looking for his next challenge - is the right guy for the job. As Kraven visits the United States for his latest hunt, this also highlights J. Jonah Jameson as he roots for Kraven to succeed and even collaborates a bit with the hunter.
A Spider-Man reboot partially inspired by Kraven's first appearance has a lot of potential to unleash the classic enemy without getting in the way of establishing this new version of Peter Parker and his supporting characters (which may draw inspiration from the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series). That's not the only reason why we're rooting for this character's inclusion, though. It's time to explain why we believe Kraven should be the villain in the Spider-Man reboot!
A personal, not large-scale, conflict
The stakes tend to be pretty high in superhero movies. It's common for the hero to save the entire city or stop something even more destructive from happening. With Kraven, the story focuses on character conflict instead of a bigger, evil scheme. Kraven doesn't set out to conquer New York, destroy part of the city, or somehow change the status quo. Instead, he simply wants one thing: to fight and defeat Spider-Man. His mission is purely personal; it's just him and Spider-Man, nothing else is on his radar.
Kraven's plan has the potential to avoid the formulaic 'Spider-Man must race against the clock to save his city!' narrative. Also, focusing on the villain's psyche - instead of needing to incorporate an elaborate and evil plan - has the chance to give him more depth than some of the other villains have received. What motivates him? How does a human have what it takes to hold their own against Spider-Man? With a solid script, these are questions that can easily be answered without getting in the way of Spider-Man's story - and that's especially important because this reboot needs to justify presenting a whole new cinematic take on the web-slinger's well-known world. Kraven can still have his time in the spotlight, but it also leaves plenty of room to reveal what Peter's life is like at home, work, and school.
A difficult test for a younger Spidey
Spider-Man's spider-sense combined with his superhuman strength, speed, agility, and reflexes makes him one incredibly tough hero. Joking around doesn't prevent him from effortlessly slugging armed criminals in the face. Even in his earlier years, his physicality and his wit allowed him to take on a number of formidable threats. Kraven isn't as fast or as strong as Spider-Man, but his skill and tactical mind allows him to compensate for that. There's little doubt that Holland's version of Spider-Man will be able to humiliate nameless goons with ease, but placing him up against Kraven in his first movie forces him to grow as a combatant and a strategist. No longer will only his superior speed, strength, and agility allow him to win.
Kraven's a man who studies his targets and then finds a way to make sure he has the advantage when they finally meet. If a nerve strike can't be landed, he may use a variety of weapons, traps, or even potions that can weaken his opponent. There's no question that Spider-Man is a smart and swift powerhouse, but a conflict with Kraven will force him to be more tactical than he's ever been before - he needs to outsmart a man who has decades of experience hunting everything possible, after all. After a run-in with the Russian villain, Spider-Man will gain quite a lot of experience as a strategic fighter. Whether or not he actually applies that talent while moving forward is, of course, a whole other story.
A future with the Sinister Six
The fate of a Sinister Six movie is uncertain. Drew Goddard continues to show he's passionate about the team of bad guys taking on Spidey, and before Marvel Studios and Sony made a deal, Kraven was going to be on the roster. Will he still be on the roster if the team is formed? Will a Sinister Six movie even happen? Obviously only time will answer those questions, but it's worth noting that Kraven was an original member of the team. Yes, there have been several incarnations of the villainous group, and the movie has the creative freedom to include whoever they'd like to, but given Goddard's previous interest in adding Kraven to the group, it's not far-fetched to believe that the possibility of Sergei joining forces with other Spider-Man villains still exists. And if David Ayer's Suicide Squad proves that focusing on villains can be a hit, that could revitalize interest in moving the Sinister Six project forward.
If Kraven travels to New York to take on Spider-Man, he'll ultimately be defeated. No surprise there. He may have the edge in their first fight and he may later have Spider-Man on the ropes, but it's likely Holland's hero will overcome the big bad. This will leave Kraven even more determined to defeat Spider-Man, and this would make him an organic addition to the Sinister Six when it's possibly formed.
He can go after other heroes
Who wouldn't love to see Kraven have a brutal throwdown with Captain America (Chris Evans) or Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan)? The Spider-Man rogue has one sole purpose in life: to take down anyone that he deems worthy of being hunted. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there's more than a few heroes who fit the bill.
In the comics, Kraven has fought against a number of characters the MCU has the rights to, including Daredevil, Black Widow, Black Panther, Venom, and even the Hulk (yes, really). One of his sons has faced Punisher (and Black Panther) as well. As the MCU's roster continues to grow, so do the options for Kraven to hunt. The chances of Kraven going up against anyone outside of the Spider-Man family are unknown, but his desire to go after other impressive MCU heroes (and villains) can be easily justified. After suffering defeat at the hands of Spider-Man, it is logical that the focused man would want to test himself against other heroes in an effort to better himself until he feels that he is finally ready to go up against his ultimate target, Spider-Man, once again. And if he does seek out Spidey one final time, there's only one story that it needs to be inspired by...
It paves the way for Kraven's Last Hunt
Kraven's Last Hunt shouldn't be the sequel to the reboot. But could it be the focus of a third or even fourth Spider-Man spin-off? Absolutely. The first Spider-Man spin-off has what it takes to provide a decent character study of Kraven, and then a Sinister Six movie or potential cameos elsewhere can add a little more insight into Kraven's mentality. Even without making more appearances, the reboot would lay out what needs to be known about Kravinoff. Not being able to get the better of Spider-Man would be something he wouldn't be able to shake, so when he returns for a dark and twisted plan (which would shed a little more light on his origin), it has an appropriate sense of build-up behind it and it's easy for audiences to understand where the villain is coming from. You can't just come out of the gate with a story like this one - it requires time for Spider-Man to develop.
Kraven's Last Hunt has what it takes to be a terrific third or fourth solo movie for Spider-Man. This allows the webhead to have some fun adventures and cameos before being thrown into something more emotional. In the right hands, it could leave quite an impression on moviegoers. Some may argue that DeMatteis and Zeck's story is too dark for Marvel Studios, but after seeing how Captain America: The Winter Soldier balanced its tone, this classic tale shouldn't be ruled out, especially since there would more than likely be several changes to the source material. As long as changes aren't made to the big twists and highlights, Kraven's Last Hunt could offer casual moviegoers something new instead of a story that's fun but ultimately familiar. Kraven may not be one of Spider-Man's more popular villains, but he certainly has what it takes to be one of the more compelling ones. Introducing him in Spider-Man's reboot and eventually building up to a movie based on Kraven's Last Hunt would be the perfect chance to prove that.
Captain America: Civil War will open 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.
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