The Sony Cinematic Universe is a collection of Spider-Man-adjacent characters, like Venom and Morbius. Now, Kraven the Hunter will add Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the eponymous villain, tracking his R-rated origin story and his complicated relationship with his father, played by Russell Crowe doing a very Russell Crowe accent.
Thanks to the movie’s red band trailer, it looks like Sony is harkening back to a simpler time when comic book movies didn’t follow a formula. Taylor-Johnson is a Marvel veteran (he played Quicksilver in Age of Ultron), but there’s a certain air to the trailer that’s neither the quips and muddy blues and oranges of the MCU, nor the grimdark action of DC’s Snyderverse. Judge for yourself below.
Unlike most recent comic book movies, the shots look stylized, well-lit, and occasionally corny, in a fun way. It seems like Kraven’s influences aren’t its Sony-verse siblings or box-office dominating Marvel movies, but scrappy pre-2000s superhero movies, from the Tobey Maguire era of Spider-Man to less well-regarded examples like Daredevil and Catwoman.
This may sound like we’re damning Kraven with faint praise, but harkening back to this era of superheroes is a smart move. Nostalgia is an easy sell — just look at how Maguire’s No Way Home cameo was received — and embracing the goofiness inherent in a lion-based villain rather than sanding off the edges is a refreshing take.
Most importantly, Kraven the Hunter isn’t trying to be a MCU knockoff. After 15 years of Marvel movies, it can be difficult to remember that comic book movies don’t all have to be epic world-building blockbusters. Sometimes, a guy in a costume just has daddy issues, an approach that has worked for Iron Man, Batman, and Superman. As long as Kraven has more of Venom’s silliness than Morbius’ sheer awfulness, it should be okay.
While Kraven’s action looks flashy, this appears to be a back-to-basics movie, which the comic book genre needed. It’s fun to step outside our expectations and look at what the superhero scene might have looked like if Tony Stark had never heard about the Avengers Initiative and the MCU had never happened. And hey, the MCU introduced the multiverse; just think of Kraven the Hunter as a simpler branch in it.
Kraven the Hunter premieres in theaters in October.