In Marvel’s Black Panther, T’Challa (played by Chadwick Boseman) squares off with his greatest arch-nemesis, Erik Killmonger, played by Michael B. Jordan. But if director Ryan Coogler had his way, one of Spider-Man’s greatest enemies would have been in Black Panther as well.
In an interview with Yahoo Movies UK, Coogler said he would have included in his film Kraven the Hunter, the brutish Russian big-game hunter famously introduced as a villain of Spider-Man. Unfortunately for Coogler, the director didn’t have access to Kraven, who likely belongs to Sony through Sony’s arrangement with Disney/Marvel.
“I’ve always loved Kraven the Hunter in almost every iteration,” Coogler told Yahoo Movies UK. “So there was a moment, ‘Can I grab Kraven?’ and they were ‘Nah, you don’t have Kraven.’ He was one where I thought ‘Oh, man.’ But I don’t even know if he would have worked in the movie we ended up with. This was the early days.”
Coogler added: “There was a Christopher Priest run that was pretty heavy, there’s a big scene where Panther’s fighting Kraven the Hunter.”
Coogler is letting his fandom show. Indeed, in issues six and seven of Black Panther by Christopher Priest, Black Panther fights Kraven the Hunter — or rather, Kraven’s son Alyosha Kravinoff, who adopted his late father’s mantle — who was hired by White Wolf to capture T’Challa. At the time, T’Challa had been exiled from Wakanda, usurped by an evil warlord. To make his way back home, T’Challa became a vigilante in Brooklyn, where he tried building a criminal network while using his skills to lend a helping hand to Brooklynites.
In 1964, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko introduced Kraven the Hunter in an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. But it wasn’t until 1987, in J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Zeck’s Kraven’s Last Hunt that immortalized Kraven among Marvel fans. In that storyline, Kraven defeats and buries Spider-Man, rendered immobile from a tranq dart by Kraven. The storyline is famous for its ending, in which Kraven believes he’s proved his point as Spidey’s superior and commits suicide.
Of course, with comics being comics, Kraven is eventually resurrected, which put him on the path against Black Panther in 2011’s Black Panther: The Man Without Fear.
“Being a Marvel fan, you want to grab all the characters,” Coogler said. “You realize there’s contractual things. You don’t have that character.”
Kraven may not appear in a mainstream MCU film, but perhaps Kraven will appear in a future installment of Sony/Marvel’s Spider-Man series, which began last year with Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Marvel’s Black Panther will hit theaters on February 16.