Kraven The Hunter: Release Date, Cast, And More

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Alright, "Morbius" may not have been the best continuation of Sony's Spider-Man Universe, with critics noting that the bloodthirsty anti-hero probably wouldn't have much interest in taking on Spidey at all. But just because one film critically flops (though it did considerably well at the box office) doesn't mean we can't look forward to what's to come from this specific cinematic universe. In fact, cameras are currently rolling on "Kraven the Hunter," another SSU entry that's already attracting our attention. Based on the Russian villain from the Marvel "Spider-Man" comics, "Kraven the Hunter" might not overtly engage with Spider-Man (whether he be played by Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, or Tobey Maguire), but it will draw from the same mythos presented in the original comics.

The details on this forthcoming flick are sparse yet promising — hopefully more akin to the highly entertaining "Venom" and its sequel than the cringey hollowness of "Morbius." No matter what your expectations are, it's worth knowing how this movie is shaping up.

When and where to watch Kraven the Hunter

As it stands, "Kraven the Hunter" is expected to hit theaters on January 13, 2023. As we're well aware, this date could always get pushed back, but either way, there's a way to go before this movie is ready to hit the big screen. It's likely that "Kraven" will be exclusively screened in theaters, with no streaming premieres for at-home audiences. This is likely due to the financial success of the first SSU entries, "Venom" and "Venom: Let There Be Carnage," with "Morbius" also turning a profit. It looks like big-budget movies are officially back to being theatrical exclusives.

What we know about Kraven the Hunter cast and crew

This is where it really starts to get juicy. Confirmed in the lead role of Kraven (whose birth name is Sergei Kravinoff) is Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who you might recognize as Pietro Maximoff (aka Quicksilver) in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" (though old heads will recognize the English actor as the eponymous "Kick-Ass"). Clearly, Taylor-Johnson knows his way around a superhero movie. Hot off of her historic Oscar win for Best Supporting Actress in "West Side Story," Ariana Debose is set to star as Calypso Ezili, a voodoo priestess and Kraven's habitual lover, who occasionally teams up with him to conspire against Spider-Man. Christopher Abbot ("Girls," "First Man") will play another one of Spidey's nemeses, The Foreigner, a former assassin and skilled martial artist. Rounding out the confirmed cast of characters is Fred Hechinher ("The White Lotus," "Pam & Tommy"), who'll play Dmitri Nikolaievich Smerdyakov, also known as The Chameleon, a master of disguise and deceit who happens to be Kraven's half-brother. Funnily enough, The Chameleon is also the first super villain that Spidey ever battled, dating back to the very first issue of "The Amazing Spider-Man."

While "Kraven the Hunter" is looking like quite the ensemble already, there's even more star power behind it. Though these actors haven't had their roles revealed, it's been confirmed that Russell Crowe and Alessandro Nivola ("Disobedience," "American Hustle") are also among the cast for this film. This is why there's substantial hype for a film whose wait until a release date rivals a human gestation period.

Behind the camera, J. C. Chandor ("A Most Violent Year") will be directing, while writing duo Art Marcum and Matt Holloway ("Iron Man," "Punisher: War Zone") co-write the script with Richard Wenk ("The Equalizer"). Filming began in London, England during the last week of March.

What we think Kraven the Hunter will be about

Again, this is all merely speculation, but "Kraven the Hunter" just might follow one of the comics' darkest storylines. In an interview with Discussing Film, Wenk detailed what went into the writing process for "Kraven the Hunter," hinting that the comic "Kraven's Last Hunt" is an inspiration for the film. That particular book's plot revolves around Kraven donning Spider-Man's costume in order to prove he's a better hero, a quest that tragically ends in the anti-hero dying by suicide. However, if "Kraven the Hunter" is expected to perform as well as its SSU predecessors, it would be in Sony's best interest to keep the character alive. As Wenk said:

"You have to look at everything just to soak it in. I think that what we're all circling is 'Kraven's Last Hunt' and whether this is the precursor to that movie or will include it. We're talking about those things. And even the idea that maybe Kraven could be like 'Kill Bill' where we're basically writing two movies."

What we can expect is that "Kraven the Hunter" will ostensibly be a villain origin story, in the same vein as "Venom" and "Morbius." Focusing on the psyche of an anti-hero usually means that the superhero is largely absent from the story — so there probably won't be any extended interaction between Kraven and Spider-Man, at least not yet. However, it would be hard to dismiss the superhero from the story entirely if the filmmakers mine heavily from the "Kraven's Last Hunt" comic. At the very least, we can expect build-up to an eventual interaction between the two:

"I'm just beginning it, beginning the process, and because it's a big IP, Marvel world, there's lots of hurdles to overcome before you can start writing, to crack the right story and to get the right tone. It's a new world for me," Wenk concluded.

There's a lot to anticipate and expect from this forthcoming Spider-Man spin-off, and if we do see a decent bit of storyline borrowed from "Kraven's Last Hunt," there's a good chance Spidey might just pop up in this movie. For now, it's all theory — so brush up on your Spider-Man comic knowledge and get ready for another entry in the SSU.