Following a weekend leak — and a poster reveal earlier in the day, the first trailer for Sony’s upcoming Kraven the Hunter movie has been officially released, giving fans their first chance to see Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the fan-favorite Spider-Man antagonist. In a somewhat unsurprising development, the first trailer for Sony’s upcoming Kraven the Hunter movie does not succeed in making the movie look particularly appealing at all.
As anyone who’s been paying attention to the studio’s attempts to jumpstart a superhero franchise of its own out of the leftovers from the Spider-Man mythos that aren’t otherwise being used in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — attempts that started with 2018’s Venom, and since expanded with both a second Venom movie (2021’s Venom: Let There Be Carnage) and 2022’s ill-fated Morbius — is already too aware, there’s something of a formula to Sony’s Not-Quite-A-Spider-Verse:
- Step 1: Hire a name actor to play the title role, but get someone’s not that famous so that they’re affordable.
- Step 2: Make the movie a little too grounded, while maintaining a core conceit that is ridiculous yet presented entirely seriously
- Step 3: Profit. (Ideally)
The only reason that Venom works to the extent that it does is that Tom Hardy acts as if he’s in a different, stranger and far more entertaining movie. (That movie, by the way is Venom: Let There Be Carnage, which is far sillier and funnier than its predecessor, bucking the formula because Tom Hardy could get away with pushing for such a thing, and being all the better for it.) Outside of Hardy’s performance, Venom is as humorless and a slog as Morbius, a movie that practically dares you to stop watching within minutes, and keeps up that effort for the remainder of its runtime.
Same old story
The Kraven trailer makes it clear that this movie is more of the same, only this time with more violence, because… well, maybe some of the old ultra violence will make things seem more interesting or exciting:
It just seems so… dull. So unexpectedly boring, despite two genuinely wacky innovations that aren’t part of the character’s original comic book roots: Firstly, that he’s related to an entirely separate Spider-Man villain, the Rhino, which… why not. Beyond the fact that they’re both Russian, it doesn’t make a great deal of sense, but, sure. Whatever. Far more excitingly, however, there’s what appears to be the origin of Kraven in the movies, which is that he... had a lion bleed into an open wound, and... he was was suddenly able to talk to animals, I guess…?
There’s something wonderfully obtuse about this, because — given everything that we’ve seen in both Venom and Morbius — it’s safe to assume this will be given some psuedo-scientific explanation in the finished movie, but at heart, this origin is arguably more outlandish that the character’s comic book origin of “He drinks a magic potion.”
And yet, despite that: the trailer looks utterly generic. It could be any action movie from the last thirty years; there’s nothing of interest or uniqueness about it. There’s certainly nothing of the energy of any of the MCU Spider-Man movies, never mind Sony’s animated Spider-Verse movies, which feels very much like a missed opportunity, and a sign that Kraven, like Morbius before it, is destined to disappear at the box office upon its release this October. After all, given all the other superhero movies that are going to reach theaters this year — never mind all the many shows and streaming projects coming from comic books — why should audiences spend their time and money on something that barely looks like it’s trying?
And what's with that outfit?
Perhaps the clearest example of how surprisingly dull the Kraven movie appears comes in what Taylor-Johnson is wearing in the trailer. The comic book Kraven's costume - designed by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko - is a classic of pop art visuals: leopardskin tights and a vest that's fashioned out of a lionmane with eye icons on either shoulder. It's eye-catching (no pun intended) and memorable. By contrast, the cinematic Kraven is wearing... a bland vest that he hasn't zipped up, and some pants. That's it. It feels like a metaphor for the entire enterprise, for everything that's been lost in translation from page to screen and the lack of care and attention spent in that process.
You’d think by now Sony would have realized that a comic book connection and recognizable actor alone doesn’t automatically guarantee box office success, yet based on these first looks, it feels as if the studio isn’t there yet. I mean, people: we’ve been through this before, and really rather recently. Did Black Adam bomb for nothing?
No, really; check out our list of upcoming superhero movies to see what else is hitting theaters over the next few years.