Kraven the Hunter has found its star. Aaron Taylor-Johnson is set to play the iconic Spider-Man villain in Sony’s solo film, which will be directed by J.C. Chandor (Triple Frontier). Sony had reportedly considered actors like Keanu Reeves, Adam Driver, John David Washington, and Brad Pitt for the role, but ended up going with Taylor-Johnson after seeing footage of his performance in the upcoming action film Bullet Train.
To his credit as an actor, Taylor-Johnson has the potential to knock it out of the park as Kraven. But his casting also raises questions about the film’s possible Marvel Cinematic Universe connections.
Kraven in the MCU — As Marvel fans are already well-aware, Kraven will not be the first comic-book character Taylor-Johnson has played in recent years. The actor previously played the titular hero in Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2 and starred as Pietro Maximoff a.k.a. Quicksilver in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron. The latter role makes Taylor-Johnson’s Kraven particularly interesting.
Despite his death in Age of Ultron, Taylor-Johnson’s Quicksilver is still remembered by die-hard Marvel fans and casual viewers alike. With that in mind, it’d seem like a safe bet to assume the actor couldn’t play another MCU character. That, in turn, begs the question: will Kraven the Hunter exist in the MCU?
A Tale of Two Cinematic Universes — All of this ties back into the bluntly confusing co-existence of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters (yes, that is what it’s called). Most fans assume — given how protective Marvel is of the MCU — that the two universes exist separately. But no one’s sure at this point whether that’s actually the case.
In the Morbius trailer, released early last year, a background clue and a cameo appearance suggested that the film – which is part of the SPUMC – exists in the same reality as Spider-Man: Far From Home and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige also said in 2019 that Tom Holland’s Peter Parker/Spider-Man could cross over between the two cinematic universes — implying that they are at least somewhat connected.
All of this is to say that, until films like Morbius, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Spider-Man: No Way Home are released, it’s difficult to know exactly what the connections are between the MCU and the SPUMC, should substantive ones exist.
It’s also worth noting that Kraven has long been rumored to make an appearance in Spider-Man: No Way Home, though no legitimate reports have been released confirming that. Now that Sony has its Kraven actor, it’s possible the studio could set him up with a cameo appearance in the MCU entry — especially since No Way Home already promises to explore Marvel’s Multiverse and alternate realities.
The Inverse Analysis — For whatever it’s worth, it’s very possible that Taylor-Johnson could play both Quicksilver and Kraven within the MCU.
While Marvel typically tries to avoid casting the same actor in multiple roles, the studio has done it a handful of times over the years. Gemma Chan, for instance, is set to star as Sersi in Marvel’s Eternals despite having already appeared as a different character in 2019’s Captain Marvel. Taylor-Johnson’s previous MCU experience doesn’t necessarily disqualify Kraven the Hunter from taking place in the MCU.
But we really don’t know what Sony’s current plans are for Kraven the Hunter. Taylor-Johnson is said to have signed on to play the character in multiple films, which means the studio likely has some franchise and crossover ideas already in mind for the character. Whether he’ll exist in the MCU or cross over into another Marvel Studios title, for now, remains to be seen.
Kraven the Hunter is set to hit theaters on January 13, 2023.