(Warning, major potential SPOILERS for the upcoming solo Spider-Man movie lie below. As Taylor Swift so sagely warned: "don't say I didn't say I didn't warn ya"...)
A week ago, a rumor began to spread around the internet - one that, like so many others of late, just happened to focus on the forthcoming adventures of Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Specifically, it seemed that we might know exactly who Spidey's main foe in his upcoming solo movie would be: a true fan-favorite, in the form of Kraven the Hunter.
The only problem?
As Of Yet, Kraven's Presence is Very Much Just a Rumor
Y'see, as initially reported by Heroic Hollywood, the reasoning behind Kraven's imminent arrival was based on something ever-so-slightly without substance:
"Last week, Karen Moy, the Vice President of Creative Affairs over at Sony (Ms. Moy has run the story department at Sony for almost twenty years) purchased a copy of Kraven's Last Hunt trade paperback on Amazon."
Or, in other words, a senior member of staff over at Sony bought one of the most acclaimed Spider-Man comic-books of all time - which is certainly intriguing, but a long, long way away from being conclusive proof...
Kraven's Last Hunt Would Be an Extremely Odd Choice to Adapt in Spidey's New Movie
Y'see, it's actually exactly the sort of story that would be completely impractical to make into a movie this early into Spider-Man's MCU reboot. The reason? It relies almost entirely on Kraven and Spider-Man having a long-standing relationship - one which essentially comes to an end during the events of the story-line.
Which, in the comics, makes a whole lot of sense, since:
Kraven and Spider-Man Go Way Back
Having first appeared way back in The Amazing Spider-Man #15, Kraven is actually one of Spidey's longest-standing foes. He was originally a big-game hunter (from an aristocratic Russian family that had escaped to America during the Russian Revolution) who saw Spider-Man as the ultimate prey, though his goals were often muddied by his teaming up with other super-villains (including membership in the original Sinister Six).
Over the years, though, Kraven's obsession with Spider-Man grew and grew, before finally coming to a head in...1987's Kraven's Last Hunt.
In which the curmudgeonly older Kraven finally got the better of Spider-Man, and buried him alive.
Now, of course, Spider-Man didn't actually die - but the story still ended on a fundamentally life-altering note, as Kraven - who had proven to himself that he could successfully hunt Spider-Man - opted to commit suicide, having completed his final goal in life.
Why Couldn't That Story Be Made Into a Movie, Though?
Well, aside from the obvious problems involved with fast-forwarding through the decades of Spidey and Kraven's history that made the story-line so resonant in the first place, it's also worth noting that the three main elements of Kraven's Last Hunt would be extremely unlikely to be approved by either Sony or Marvel.
First up, Spider-Man gets buried alive, something we're unlikely to watch a grown man do to a teenage boy in the MCU.
Secondly, Kraven then puts on Spider-Man's iconic costume, and pretends to be him for a few weeks - something that would be both less meaningful and confusing when included in the first movie the newly introduced Spidey stars in.
And, thirdly, Kraven shoots himself in the face at the end.
Which isn't the sort of thing you tend to see in a movie aimed at the pre-teen demographic...
If Kraven's Last Hunt isn't likely to make up the plot of the new Spider-Man solo movie, though, then:
Why Would Kraven Be the Main Villain At All?
After all, if it were to turn out that Sony's Vice President of Creative Affairs was simply buying Kraven's Last Hunt as light reading material, or as a gift, then why would we expect Kraven to turn up at all?
Well, the thing is, even putting the book-buying rumors aside, Kraven is arguably the villain who it would make the most sense to have appear in the upcoming solo movie. The reason?
Kraven is Incredibly Important in the Comic-Books the Movie Will Probably Be Based On
Specifically, Brian Michael Bendis' acclaimed Ultimate Spider-Man, part of the Marvel Ultimate Universe (on which most of the MCU movies thus far have been pretty heavily based). In that series (and, more specifically, Ultimate Spider-Man #21), Spider-Man's defeat of Kraven, who in his Ultimate incarnation was more dastardly reality star than super-villain, proved incredibly important to the evolution of Spider-Man's superhero-ing career. The reason?
It was the moment he was finally seen as a hero.
While Spidey had taken out a bunch of minor villains before battling Kraven, it was his conflict with the media-obsessed (and visibly unhinged) Kraven that transformed his reputation from that of a masked menace to the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man New York knew and loved - with cameras catching Spidey trying to rescue two people from an overturned car, as Kraven attacked him.
With almost every other major Spider-Villain having already appeared in one movie or another, and many of the early Spider-Man story arcs from the 1960's being too brief and episodic to naturally adapt into a screenplay, the Ultimate version of Kraven could well prove an accessible and modern-seeming option.
Or, y'know, they could just go with The Green Goblin again...
What do you reckon, though?