Sony, Please Just Stop
The Kraven the Hunter Trailer
When it comes to superhero films, Sony has one, and only one, trick they can play: SpidermanSure, DC Comics has Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman, but among the most popular superheroes stands a guy from Marvel Comics, a younger hero dressed in red and blue who shoots webs and sticks to walls. Introduced in the 1960s, Spider-Man has been a constant presence in comics and more, featured in movies regularly since his big screen debut in 2002.. As Marvel continues churning along, making a (largely) unbroken strong of hit films, Sony has looked on, longingly, wanting to get in on the action. They helped to usher in the current age of superhero cinema with 2002's Spider-man, owning the cinematic rights to arguably Marvel's biggest character. But when the Sony execs get in the way, the films take a nosedive.
I've rehashed that more than one, so I'll skip it here, but when we look at the current modern era of Sony's Spider-man films, they're stuck in a strange an unusual place. They have a hit trilogy of films starring the web-crawler that are tied into the Marvel Cinematic UniverseWhen it first began in 2008 with a little film called Iron Man no one suspected the empire that would follow. Superhero movies in the past, especially those not featuring either Batman or Superman, were usually terrible. And yet, Iron Man would lead to a long series of successful films, launching the most successful cinema brand in history: the Marvel Cinematic Universe.. Unfortunately for the studio, due to the way the contract with Marvel is setup, the versions of Spidey that shows up in the MCU can't appear in non-Marvel films. Thus, no Tom Holland as Peter Parker in anything other than what Marvel is making.
Now, Sony has found a couple of ways around this. They can make animated Spider-man films (as animation isn't, apparently, part of the Marvel deal). Thus we have the two fantastic Spider-verse films (with another on the way). If Sony could be content just to let their animation team crank out Spider-man films while Marvel handled their live-action business, everything would be great. The fans would be happy and Sony could connect their solid (if not Marvel levels of) money. It isn't good enough, though, apparently.
So that's where Sony's other "hack" comes in. They can't use Spider-man in live-action, but they are allowed to use any other Spidey related characters in their license any way they like. This led to Venom, this first in a series of "Spider-man without Spider-man" films. Thing is, Venom as a character can work in his own films. He did start out as a villain in Spidey's stable, but he quickly grew to be a fan favorite so he was spun out as an anti-hero with his own set of books. Venom is an obvious choice for his own series of films even if it's weird to have a character who literally started as a black suit for Spidey getting a film where Spider-man doesn't exist on his world at all.
Thing is, Venom worked largely because of the total commitment of lead actor Tom Hardy. His dual performance as Eddie Brock and the symbiote is comedy gold, and it made for a fantastically weird and warp movie. It's not a good film but it is watchable trash, and that led to the film making over $800 Mil at the Box office. And that, right there, is the problem because Sony saw the cash Venom brought it and took the wrong lesson.
Venom can work as a solo-outing character because he's always been more than just a villain. But all the other villains in Spider-man's stable? They are hardly the kinds of characters that can support their own solo hero (or anti-hero) adventures outside the context of Spider-man. This was proven when Morbius came out (after a number of COVID delays) and absolutely failed to set the world on fire. Hell, the Venom sequel, Let There Be Carnage, came out right beforehand and also sucked. Sony illustrated to everyone, well, except Sony, that making Spider-man films without Spider-man, was a really bad idea.
Instead of learning anything from these debacles, Sony has doubled-down on their bad idea. They have a ton of films in the pipeline -- El Muerto, Madame Web, Venom 3, The Sinister Six, Nightwatch -- but kicking it off is Kraven: The Hunter, a film about a hunter... that's kraven. Okay, look, I don't know all of Spider-man's rogues but I can tell when a film looks bad and, man, this film looks like an absolute garbage fire.
The trailer for the film just recently came out and, well, it certainly looks like a Sony superhero film. That, it should be noted, is not a compliment. It has the same lackluster filming style, same boring story beats, same monotone acting style of Morbius. If someone were to tell me that the execs at Sony said, "make this like Morbius but with a dude who's a different animal", I wouldn't doubt it for a second. They looks like the same film, just with names and faces changed.
Remember, Morbius is a shitty movie. It was so bad it became an Internet joke. They Sony thought they could get in on the joke and re-release the film so people could hate watch it... and it bombed a second time. This film was so bad even people that like bad movies couldn't be bothers to go and watch the film on purpose just for that reason. And, somehow, Sony has seemingly made another film just like it, all based on a third-tier villain that, if you didn't know he was somehow in the Spider-man stable, wouldn't even be worth a watch in the best of circumstances.
I struggle to think who this film could be for. If you actually are a Kraven the Hunter fan (do those people exist?) you probably will be annoyed that they changed the way he gets his powers (he someone gains superpowers from lion blood here as opposed to a toxic batch of super chemicals in the comics) and made him into a kind of anti-hero. And if you don't know who this guy is you'll see the trailer and think, "who, this looks as shitty as Morbius." No one is going to see this trailer and think, "yeah, this guy that comes from Spider-man is someone I want to watch it a film without Spider-man."
Which brings me back to the point of this article: Sony, please just stop. We get it. You want the kinds of money Marvel is making. Everyone does. DC has wanted it for over 15 years and they still haven't managed to hit upon the magic formula. And if DC can't do it, when they have the biggest and most successful stable of A-list characters around, you aren't going to be able to pull it off with C-tier villain rejects. It just isn't in the cards for you guys, so stop trying.
You pulled off magic with the Spider-verse films. Maybe be happy with that, and the split of the films from Marvel, and just chill. You're generating a lot of ill-will towards your films when you make shit like this.