Who is Kraven the Hunter? Powers & weaknesses in Marvel Comics explained

Christopher Baggett
Kraven the Hunter in Marvel Comics and Spider-Man 2

Long before Kraven the Hunter became a marquee villain in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, he was a terrifying hunter who chased Spider-Man relentlessly.

Kraven the Hunter is so close to becoming a household name. The iconic Spider-Man villain just had a massive comics storyline, but he’s also featured in Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 and an upcoming solo film

It’s a big step for the character. For much of the past 30 years, Kraven the Hunter has actually been dead. He’s been revived a handful of times, but more often than not, Kraven is someone who went after Spider-Man and came up short. 

Despite being portrayed as a joke in several stories, Kraven was once a terrifying Spider-Man foe. Before he gives Spider-Man a run for his money in the upcoming Marvel’s Spider-Man 2, here’s everything you need to know about Kraven the Hunter. 

Who is Kraven the Hunter? 

Kraven's first appearance
Kraven makes his debut in Amazing Spider-Man #15.

Kraven the Hunter’s first appearance

Kraven the Hunter’s first appearance is in The Amazing Spider-Man #15. Sergei Kravenoff is a big-game hunter who believes he has hunted every possible animal. He sets his target on his next impossible hunt: Spider-Man. 

It doesn’t go as planned. Kraven attempts to drug Spider-Man, but he shrugs it off in time to escape. The two do battle over the years, with Spider-Man often coming out on top. Eventually, it begins to take a toll on Kraven. 

Karven's Last Hunt cover art
Kraven’s Last Hunt was a definitive Spider-Man story, bringing Kraven’s story to an emotional close.

Kraven’s Last Hunt

Kraven’s most iconic storyline is Kraven’s Last Hunt. Nearing death and at odds with his legacy, Kraven makes one last play to stop Spider-Man. He uses a poison to put Spider-Man in a coma, then buries him alive. 

With Spider-Man out of the picture, Kraven attempts to understand his ultimate prey by becoming him. He eats fistfuls of spiders, dons a replica costume, and spends two weeks patrolling New York as Spider-Man – all while the real Spider-Man desperately tries to claw his way out of a grave. 

Spider-Man finally breaks free and sets out to get his revenge on Kraven, who attempts to escape with the promise that he’ll never hunt again. He keeps his promise by taking his own life before Spider-Man can reach him. Kraven would remain dead for nearly 20 years, finally being resurrected by his wife and daughter in the 2010 event Grim Hunt.

Kraven the Hunter’s powers & weaknesses

Kraven the Hunter's strength on display
Kraven has always been portrayed as a physical match for Spider-Man.

Enhanced strength

Thanks to a serum, Kraven the Hunter has enhanced strength and durability. He takes it to even the playing field against the animals he hunts. 

Kraven notably does not use any kind of weapon in most instances. In his earliest appearances, he preferred to fight his prey bare-handed in an effort to prove himself the superior hunter. 

Later Kraven iterations did favor some weaponry, though it was rarely firearms or anything of that sort. He tends to stick to spears and knives, things that enforce his mentality as a hunter and capitalize on his enhanced abilities. 

Kraven the Hunter: Hunted cover art
Despite appearing to be in his mid-to-late-40s, Kraven is actually well over 100 years old by the time of his second death.

Slowed aging

A side effect of the serum is that Kraven’s aging is slowed down considerably. He is functionally immortal in some stories. 

Despite appearing like a man of good health in his late 40s or early 50s throughout his entire run, Kraven is in his 70s during Kraven’s Last Hunt and over 100 years old by the time of his death in 2019’s Hunted. 

Kraven reflects on his age
Despite the serums and herbs that kept him strong, Kraven still felt the effect of his age.

Unspecified illness

At the start of Kraven’s Last Hunt, the side effects of using the serum are catching up. Kraven is starting to grow ill, despite the slowed aging and enhanced durability. 

It’s never really clarified if Kraven is suffering from some specific illness or is just generally unwell. He is definitively suffering the effects of just being alive for an incredible length of time, something which no treatment is alleviating for him. 

Kraven reflects on his family
Kraven the Hunter’s family had a history of mental illness, which is a driving theme of the iconic Kraven’s Last Hunt.

Self-Doubt

Kraven’s biggest weakness: he has no faith in himself. The once proud and boisterous hunter is shaken by his many losses to Spider-Man, and it ultimately leads him to take his own life. 

How much of this is due to his losses to Spider-Man, though?  A significant factor in Kraven’s backstory is his family’s mental health. In particular, Kraven’s mother is implied to have had some form of mental illness, having grown delusional following the death of Kraven’s father. 

Much is implied that Kraven himself is actually suffering from similar delusions. As a result, Kraven is often haunted by his own doubts, which causes him to fall just shy of his goals. 

That’s all we have for Kraven the Hunter, but be sure to follow all our comics news and updates or check out our ongoing Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 coverage.

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