Who is Kraven the Hunter?


In May of 2021, Sony confirmed that Aaron Taylor-Johnson would be playing the role of Kraven The Hunter in a film, aptly titled Kraven the Hunter, slated for a January 2023 release date. One of the lesser known Marvel villains, Kraven is a long-time adversary of Spider-Man, having fought the web-slinging superhero countless times in the comic books. Unlike villains like Green Goblin and Venom, Kraven hasn’t made as many appearances in other Spider-Man media. Still, the character is prominent enough to have been featured in several incarnations of Marvel-related television and video games.

As casting news about Sony’s Kraven the Hunter film begins trickling in, the hype for the movie is slowly beginning to build. It’s reasonable to expect that the character will receive an updated origin story and new characterization for his big screen debut, so now is the perfect time to revisit the character’s past and speculate about how the fearsome hunter will be adapted into live-action. Here’s our answer to the question: who is Kraven the Hunter?


Related: Ariana DeBose to Play Calypso in Sony’s Kraven the Hunter Movie

Comic Book Origins

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Marvel Comics

Like most comic book characters, Kraven’s history is long and tumultuous, including deaths, rebirths, and changes in allegiances. The character’s first publication was in 1964, in The Amazing Spider-Man Issue #15. His origins were penned by Stan Lee and his first illustrations done by Steve Ditko, the now-infamous pair for their prolific comic book creations. Kraven, whose real name is Sergei Kravinoff, is a Soviet immigrant who moved to the United States following the onset of the Russian Revolution that overthrew the Czar government. Growing up with a sense of lost nobility, Kravinoff turned to hunting and a strict personal code of honor that guided his actions.

Is Kraven the Hunter a Villain?

Marvel Comics

Upon meeting Spider-Man, Kravinoff saw the potential for his greatest hunt and subsequently dedicated his energy towards a methodical pursuit and takedown of the wall crawler. Beyond these motivations, Kraven found himself allied with the Avengers and later the Sinister Six, taking part in different endeavors across history. Though almost always a villain, Kraven is rarely characterized as evil for the sake of being evil, a fate that follows a few too many comic book villains. The character’s fractured psychology is built on his desire to prove himself to be the greatest hunter in the world, and his targeting of Spider-Man has nothing to do with hatred for the man himself, but rather a deep respect. That respect, combined with his personal code of honor, has allowed some writers to portray him as a complex, multidimensional character.

Why is He Obsessed With Spider-Man?

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Marvel Comics

After being defeated at the hands of the wall-crawling superhero, Kraven realized that Spider-Man posed a unique challenge to him as a hunter. Kraven had long becoming bored with hunting animal predators and began considering Spider-Man to be worthy prey. Undoubtedly, being defeated by Spider-Man was a blow to his ego, and the obsession evolved beyond just wanting to defeat him. Suddenly, the renowned hunter needed to prove that he was more skilled and effective performing Spider-Man’s role than the man himself, which became the foundation for one of the best comic book storylines featuring Kraven the Hunter.

The Best Stories Featuring Kraven the Hunter

Marvel's Spider-Man Villain Is Kraven the Hunter?
Marvel Comics

The 1987 story “Kraven’s Last Hunt” is considered to be the most well-rounded and intriguing depiction of the character. Writer J.M. DeMatteis was inspired by the Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky and his novel Crime and Punishment, using that story’s dark, thorough exploration of human duality to characterize the complex relationship between Kraven and Spider-Man. In this storyline, Kraven subdues Spider-Man and assumes his identity, defeating another one of Spider-Man’s longtime foes with ease in order to prove his own superiority. After freeing Spider-Man in a show of respect, Kraven takes his own life to wrest control away from the slow physical decay he had been experiencing in his age. As readers of superhero comics will know, death has little permanence in these stories, and Kraven would rise to hunt again.

In a completely different direction, a recent comic book storyline titled The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl’s Friend Kraven took a lighthearted direction to the character. After being hunted himself in a strange twist of events, Kraven finds comfort in the friendship of Squirrel Girl, a dynamic that would be much beloved by readers of this storyline. Having learned humility, he vows only to hunt other hunters in the future, marking a notable turn in morality for the character.

Related: Kraven the Hunter Adds The White Lotus Star Fred Hechinger as Another Spider-Man Villain

What Powers Does Kraven the Hunter Have?

Marvel Comics

Through the use of magical potions, Kraven’s senses and prowess as a hunter were greatly elevated. He possesses superhuman strength on par and even exceeding the other Marvel characters that are still classified as human, like Captain America. In addition, his speed and stamina are described to be similar to the most fearsome animal predators, giving him an easy edge to most of his animal hunts. Also, his senses and reflexes were greatly heightened by the use of these potions, which allowed him to clash with and meet Spider-Man as an equal in battle. Those potions also increased his lifespan and slowed his aging process, and as a result of being brought back to life after death, he exists in a cursed state of immortality. Otherwise, he possesses the greatest skill of any human hunter, with tracking abilities and a mind for strategy and tactics.

Disney Animation Studios

Kraven has appeared in too many television shows to count, some of them being: 1966’s The Marvel Superheroes, 1981 and 1994’s Spider-Man, Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends, the more recent Spectacular Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man, and beyond. In the realm of film, many of the different Spider-Man franchise stories have attempted to include the character but failed. Kraven was rumored to appear in the planned The Amazing Spider-Man 3, and even in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther, but neither of those ideas were ever realized. Kraven is perhaps most prolific in Spider-Man video games, having made an appearance in Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Lego Marvel Superheroes, Lego Marvel Superheroes 2, Marvel Heroes, Marvel: Future FIght, and many of the games that acted as tie-ins to the films.

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