After Madame Web, Kraven The Hunter has just become hugely important for Sony

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After the disastrous launch of Sony’s latest Spider-Man adjacent film, the company really needs Kraven The Hunter to do well. Here’s why. 

It’s been a depressing week for the mainstream end of the film industry. Sony released Madame Web into the world, hoping to create a new franchise tied to its ridiculously successful Spider-Man films. 

Yet, Madame Web was met with abysmal reviews, and one industry insider even described to The Hollywood Reporter how “you could actually watch advance purchase sales declining in real time as buyers were refunding their tickets.”


Our own James Harvey wasn’t very impressed with the film either, awarding it one solitary star: “Madame Web is terrible, of course, but then terrible movies come out all the time. But when $80m is being spent on a cynical, franchise-hunting cash grab which no one involved actually seems to have wanted to make… It’s hard to justify a second star.”

YouTuber and film critic Chris Stuckmann has recently been both praised and criticised for his decision to not review Madame Web at all. He explained his decision by saying he wishes not to add to the pile-on when it’s most likely due to studio interference that the film has missed its mark so completely. 

madame web
Madame Web. Credit: Sony Pictures

What James and Chris have in common is that they’re both looking at Sony as the main issue with Madame Web rather than blaming the film’s flaws on director SJ Clarkson. Bad movies happen, and it’ll be impossible to say exactly what went wrong and when with Madame Web, but it does feel fair to say that Sony executives must be feeling the heat right now. 

Sony’s Spider-Man spin-offs have been hit and miss with audiences. Venom and its sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage were both big hits at the box office, even if critics didn’t warm up to Tom Hardy’s anti-hero. 

Morbius, Jared Leto’s vampiric spin-off, however, was a box office disappointment – twice. Memes on social media prompted Sony to release Morbius in cinemas again in the hopes that people would flock to the cinemas to watch the film as a joke, but unsurprisingly, no one was interested in watching it again and by that point, it had been memed to within an inch of its life. It was, in fact, not morbin’ time. 

Jared Leto as Morbius
Morbius. Credit: Sony Pictures

Even Madame Web seemed like a project that only existed on an executive’s notepad somewhere. Dakota Johnson was drafted to play a character that was traditionally blind and old in the comics, but Sony was hoping a younger version of the character would appeal to the masses. 

It did not. Madame Web is currently sitting at a 13 percent critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and has little chance of making its budget back in cinemas. This was also Sony’s first try at making a proper superhero film aside from their Spider-Man films. All of its efforts have been aimed at more or less famous Spidey villains and after Madame Web, I’d say it’s going to continue with that path. 

Which brings us to Kraven The Hunter, Sony’s second Spider-Man spin-off to be released in 2024.

The film stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the titular character, traditionally a villain to Spider-Man, much like Morbius. Christopher Abbott, Arian DeBose, Russell Crowe and Alessandro Nivola are also among the cast for the film, which is directed by JC Chandor. 

The first trailer for Kraven The Hunter placed a lot of emphasis on just how gory the film would be. In the red-band trailer, Taylor-Johnson stabs, hacks and shoots his way through an impressive amount of disposable supporting characters. The bloodshed is far removed from Sony’s family-friendly Spidey films, but perhaps that’s a good thing. 

Because Kraven The Hunter needs to be good. Or at the very least, half decent. After the releases of Morbius and Madame Web, Kraven The Hunter is Sony’s big hope to keep the extended Spider-Man universe alive and well. 

Sure, there’s still Venom 3 to come this year, but a whole cinematic universe can’t rely on one character and their films. Marvel has managed to dominate the superhero market by having several different, hugely successful franchises, but even that powerhouse is facing its own struggles

The truth is, superhero films aren’t guaranteed successes anymore, even less so if they’re R-rated. James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, despite positive reviews, failed to earn back its budget, but both Deadpool films were massively successful, mostly thanks to their broad appeal and Ryan Reynolds’ star power. A third Deadpool film is on the way, but even still, it’s a rare example of an R-rated superhero film in a landscape that mostly caters to all ages. That’s not a bad thing, but maybe it’s time to try something new.

Sony really needs Kraven The Hunter to connect with audiences. One big reason it’s producing all these films is to keep hold of the rights to Spidey and his friends and enemies. It would be silly to let them go, especially as Tom Holland has become one of the most popular iterations of the character. 

Kraven The Hunter will hit cinemas in August, but will it finally break the curse of these Spidey spin-offs? Only time will tell. 

Madame Web is in cinemas now. Kraven The Hunter will be in cinemas 30th August. 

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