Kraven The Hunter: West Side Story Actress Ariana DeBose Dances Her Way Into Sony's Spider-Man Universe

Well, how's that for an eventful few months? Ariana DeBose stole every one of her scenes as Anita in Steven Spielberg's retelling of the classic musical "West Side Story," stepping into the daunting, unfillable shoes of Rita Moreno (no big deal!) and earning herself the honor of a SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. That, of course, followed her prestigious Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress earlier in February along with her BAFTA nomination.

Now, the talented performer is setting her sights on a completely different blockbuster altogether — a superhero movie. Well, make that a supervillain movie, instead. Today brings the unexpected news that Ariana DeBose will be joining the cast of "Kraven the Hunter," bringing her into the so-called Sony's Spider-Man Universe after dancing her way into all our hearts in the "West Side Story" remake. We wouldn't necessarily have guessed that this would become the in-demand actor's most high-profile project after her star-making performance, but who among us can begrudge her getting that super-paycheck? 

The casting news comes courtesy of Deadline, who are quick to point out that with the caveat of unconfirmed reports, "sources say DeBose would play Calypso in the movie." Variety, meanwhile, has gone ahead and stated in no uncertain terms that the actor will, in fact, portray Calypso — a character commonly depicted as an occasional love interest of the villainous Kraven.

Read on for all the details!

Ariana DeBose joins Kraven

Sony's superhero universe continues to expand, collecting some top-notch talent along the way. "Kraven the Hunter," starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the eponymous Spider-Man villain, has already cast big names such as Russel Crowe and will even feature another major comics character in Kraven's half-brother Chameleon, played by Fred Hechinger (of "White Lotus" fame). Ariana DeBose's casting as Calypso is sure to grab any comic fans' attention, adding even more star power to what's shaping up to be a sprawling, star-studded universe that, so far, includes both Tom Hardy-starring "Venom" movies, the upcoming "Morbius," and even the in-development "Madame Web" movie starring none other than Dakota Johnson.

Traditionally, Calypso has been depicted as what Deadline calls "a voodoo priestess who utilizes magic potions," a description that calls for some serious modernization and updating in live-action to steer clear of unfortunate racial stereotypes and tropes that, uh, haven't exactly aged well in the years since the source material was first published. The character first appeared in the early 1980s as another Spider-Man antagonist with powers of mind control. "Kraven" is directed by filmmaker J.C. Chandor ("All Is Lost," "Triple Frontier") and written by Art Marcum, Matt Holloway, and Richard Wenk. As for DeBose, the actor previously starred in the original stage performance of the Broadway musical "Hamilton" and even earned a Tony nomination for her lead performance in "Summer: The Donna Summer Musical." DeBose will next appear in the Matthew Vaughn-directed "Argylle."

"Kraven the Hunter" is slated for release on January 13, 2023.