Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Will Salmon

Big, dumb, and kind of glum: Meet Rhino, the classic Spider-Man villain set to take on Kraven the Hunter

The Rhino smashes through a door.

"And so the world has finally been given its first introduction to the matchless menace of the Unstoppable Rhino!"

That's how we're introduced to the Rhino, a perennial thorn in the side of both Spider-Man and the Hulk. But who is this grey-skinned monstrosity? With the character now confirmed to be appearing in the forthcoming Kraven the Hunter film, we're taking a look back at one of Marvel's most enduring supervillains. 

Making his debut in The Amazing Spider-Man #41, dated October 1966, Aleksei Sytsevich is a Russian mobster. Desperate for power, he submits himself to a series of chemical and radiation treatments that gives him superhuman strength, speed, and toughness - but at the cost of having his armor permanently bonded to his skin. It makes him almost impossible to stop, but also exposes a weakness that Spider-Man uses against him in their first encounter - in the early days at least, once Rhino is revved up and charging, he can't change directions. 

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

That first battle sees Rhino attempt to kidnap Colonel John Jameson with the intention of selling him to the highest bidder. Spidey outwits him and Sytsevich is tossed in jail. He quickly breaks out, of course, and comes after Spider-Man for revenge. Luckily the wall-crawler has access to acid pellets, developed by Dr Curt Connors, which dissolve Rhino's armor. He's arrested again. Still, it's not long before he gets out and is offered a new and improved suit, and the opportunity to further boost his powers.

Living a life of crime once more, Sytsevich attempts to abduct Dr. Bruce Banner - a poor choice if ever there was one. Banner transforms into the Hulk and the two beat each other senseless. Naturally, Hulk eventually wins and subdues his foe where - you guessed it - he's promptly arrested again.

That's the pattern for much of the Rhino's history. He's too dumb to be the brains of any given operation, but his sheer brute strength makes him an ideal enforcer for smarter villains like Egghead, Green Goblin, and Kingpin.  

At the same time, there's a curious vulnerability to Aleksei Sytsevich. Many of his actions have been driven by desperation and there's often the sense that his armor is as much a curse as a blessing. He's tried to go straight on numerous occasions, even handing himself over to the police in The Amazing Spider-Man #617. After he is paroled, he tries to settle down, but the death of his wife Oksana, at the hands of an unnamed new Rhino, leads him to return to his bad old ways. 

He eventually does manage to get his suit removed, but eventually has a new suit made by Tony Stark’s rival, Justin Hammer, one which he can put on and take off at will, which further enhances his abilities. 

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

So where will Rhino fit into the Kraven the Hunter film? It's impossible to say for sure at this point, but the two characters do have history. 

In Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 5) #16, dated February 2019, Taskmaster and Black Ant, who are working for Kraven, capture a number of animal-themed villains and force them to take part in a "Great Hunt" in Central Park, where they are stalked by Kraven's Hunterbots. The villains - Scorpion, Tarantula, Stegron, King Cobra, Vulture, and Rhino, are nicknamed the Savage Six by Arcade. Although Kraven eventually calls off the hunt, that nickname sticks and the Savage Six remain a threat to this day.  

Will the Kraven movie be an adaptation of the Great Hunt storyline? That seems unlikely, unless the film is going to introduce a whole bunch of additional villains. Also, we don’t yet know how much of a role Rhino will play in the film. 

Whatever the case, there’s something apt about pitting this new take on Kraven, who is said by Aaron Taylor-Johnson to be "an animal lover and protector of the natural world," against a big, dumb, animal-themed threat. We'll find out more when the film releases on October 6.

Rhino was also, at one point, a member of the Sinister Six.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.