Kraven The Hunter Will Be A Disaster For One Huge Reason

The trailer for Kraven the Hunter confirms the Spider-Man spinoff is straying too far from the source material.

By Michileen Martin | Updated

kraven the hunter

The week opened with Sony’s release of its red band trailer for October’s Kraven the Hunter, giving fans their first official look at Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the eponymous Spider-Man villain. It’s now clear to me, and likely to any Marvel Comics fan, the movie is going to be so bad that it will make Jared Leto (Morbius) cringe and say, “Even I wouldn’t have signed on to this,” for one undeniable reason: when it comes to divorcing the character from the source material, the filmmakers have gone way too far.

After watching the Kraven the Hunter trailer yesterday, I felt something like a passionate defense attorney who’s just found out his client is truly guilty. A year ago this month, when Aaron Taylor-Johnson spoke to Variety and referred to his character as an “animal lover and a protector of the natural world,” I suggested fans were getting too angry too early.

Rather than meaning the film had changed the big game hunter to someone who pranced through the forest and sang with bunnies, I argued, by calling Kraven the Hunter an “animal lover,” Taylor-Johnson might simply have been referring to the great reverence his comic book counterpart feels toward his prey.

This would absolutely reflect the source material. At one point in Kraven’s Last Hunt — perhaps the most beloved story featuring Kraven — the Hunter caresses Spider-Man‘s face, freaking the wallcrawler out in the process.

The Amazing Spider-Man #294 (Marvel Comics, 1987), Written by J.M. DeMatteis, Art by Mike Zeck

The trailer for Kraven the Hunter, unfortunately, confirms the worst fears of every fan who was shocked at the words “animal lover.” Not only is the character Taylor-Johnson plays not a big game hunter like his counterpart from the source material, but the trailer suggests he gains what appears to be some kind of psychic connection to the animal world from the bite of a lion he refuses to kill. In fact, it seems to be meant to mirror the famous spider bite that turns Peter Parker into Spider-Man.

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A young Kraven getting punished for refusing to kill a lion in the Kraven the Hunter trailer

Now, I am the first to argue that things always need to change between the comic book page and the screen adaptations, and as long the spirit of the source material is preserved, I don’t mind. You can give Spider-Man organic webshooters rather than ones he built, you can move Iron Man’s origin from Southeast Asia to the Middle East, and if the OG lineup of the Avengers changes to exclude Ant-Man and The Wasp… hey, it’s regrettable but somehow we’ll all survive.

But the changes waiting in October’s Kraven the Hunter go way the hell too far. This is a guy so obsessed with finding bigger and stronger prey that if you’re either a villain or a hero in the Marvel Comics universe who names themself after any beast in the animal kingdom, you are guaranteed a visit from Kraven and his hunting arsenal.

To change that guy to someone who not only won’t kill animals, but actually gets his powers because he won’t kill animals? There’s no way to see that as preserving the spirit of the source material.

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Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Kraven the Hunter surrounded by spiders, who are probably all going to go clubbing with him later

For example, you can change the setting of Bruce Banner’s origin story from a bomb test site (the comics) to a lab (all of the live-action screen adaptations). You can even — as has been done in both the 1970s live-action series and the MCU — eject some or all of the most important characters in his comics from the adaptation.

But you can’t turn Bruce Banner into a mild-mannered scientist who, when he’s feeling completely relaxed, turns into a giant green monster who is an absolute master at workplace conflict resolution. That would not only be utterly unwatchable, but it takes the spirit of the character and almost maliciously changes it. It doesn’t ignore the source material — it consciously goes in the exact opposite direction from what his creators intended.

That is exactly what we’re getting with Kraven the Hunter.

To be clear, I am no fan of big game hunters and don’t relish the idea of a fictional version of such a person turned into a big screen hero. But I’m also not a fan of serial killers, yet if someone were to remake Silence of the Lambs or Hannibal, I wouldn’t expect or want the iconic Hannibal Lecter to be portrayed as a pacifist vegetarian.

If I want a nature-loving hero who talks to animals, I can watch Doctor Doolittle or Aquaman, not Kraven the Hunter. As in Kraven the Hunter.

If you want a movie whose very concept will hurt your brain, Kraven the Hunter releases in theaters October 6.