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Tom Power

Sony's next Spider-Man spin-off makes me want an R-rated Venom movie

A screenshot of a comic book panel showing Spider-Man anti-hero Kraven the Hunter

Sony Pictures has made a big announcement about its upcoming Kraven the Hunter movie – and it's got me thinking about the future of the studios' Venom film series.

The next Spider-Man spin-off movie, which brings Kraven into the live-action film sphere for the first time, will carry an R rating (that's an 18 age rating in the UK) when it arrives in theaters on October 6, 2023. Sony made the announcement during its 2023 CinemaCon panel (per The Hollywood Reporter), before showing off a bloodthirsty first trailer for the flick that speaks to how violent it'll be.

It's not hyperbolic to state that this is a big step for Sony. Every Spider-Man film to date – read our Spider-Man movies in order guide for a full rundown of each one – has been tailored for audiences of all ages. Sure, some contain elements of campy horror – we're looking at you, Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy – as well as scenes of a bloody nature and the odd swear word. By and large, though, each film centered on the webslinger (and his iconic rogues gallery) has released with a more family-centric PG-13/12A age rating.

Give me an R-rated Venom movie, Sony. (Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Those age ratings are all well and good for movies starring the legendary wallcrawler. However, for films based around classic Spider-Man villains and anti-heroes, such as Morbius and Venom, PG-13/12A simply isn't enough – and that's why Kraven the Hunter's R-rating reveal is a big deal in my eyes.

You see, antagonistic characters like Venom and Morbius are vicious. Violent. Deadly. Even sadistic. Most important of all, they don't care that they are. It's part of their genetic makeup – or, rather, rewritten superpower-based genealogy – and what makes them such difficult foes for Spider-Man and his allies to overcome. They care not one jot who they hurt, or how much wanton destruction they cause; it's the thrill of the chase and the joy of inflicting pain that makes them such compelling and at-times complex characters.

Preventing their true forms from being displayed in all their brutal glory on the big screen, then, is to do them a disservice. Okay, we don't need to see Venom's full depravity and perversion on display – seriously, there's some very immoral content dotted throughout Venom's comic book history. However, in an age where R-rated comic book adaptations have become commonplace on the big and small screens – see The Boys and Invincible on Prime Video, or X-Men spin-off films like Deadpool and Logan, as prime examples – it's questionable why a cold-blooded killer like Venom hasn't been given their cinematic due.

It's not been for a want of trying, either. Venom, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Morbius have all toed the line between being "family friendly" – if you can call them that – and carrying an air of lethality. Just look at Venom's first solo movie, in which he bites a man's head off (albeit off-camera), or Morbius ripping a ship's crew and armed personnel to shreds (again, much of this happens off-screen) as proof that they can work as R-rated movies if given the opportunity.

That's why Kraven the Hunter gives me hope over the possibility of an R-rated Venom movie (sorry, Morbius, but we don't need another one starring you). If Sony is willing to push the violence-laced boat out for its next Spidey spin-off flick, surely it can do the same for Venom 3, which is already in development?

Morbius had the chance to be fully R-rated (Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Sony doesn't need to worry about a certain dilemma that's set to affect Marvel soon, either – i.e. building a cinematic universe that contains family-friendly and R-rated projects. Until now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) was positioned solely as the former. But, with more mature content showcased in Moon Knight and Werewolf by Night on Disney Plus – not to mention forthcoming R-rated movies in Blade and Deadpool 3 – Marvel will need to find a balance between its family- and adult-oriented TV shows and films.

Sony won't have that problem. Okay, the hope remains that Tom Holland – the current incumbent of Spider-Man/Peter Parker – will battle Venom and company in a future film. If Sony chooses not to go down that route, though, it has two other Spider-Men – Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield – it can call on to face off against Venom, Morbius, Kraven, or another R-rated villain. The Maguire and Garfield eras were a tad more mature than Holland's currently is, too, so the leap from borderline brutality to full adult content mode wouldn't be so big.

In short: Kraven the Hunter's R rating is the new yardstick by which all future live-action Sony Spider-Man movies (MCU outings aside) will be judged by. So, what are you waiting for, Sony? Give me that R-rated Venom movie I'm craving.

For more Spider-Man content, read our Spider-Man movies ranked piece. Additionally, get the lowdown on Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, which arrives in theaters on June 2, or read about which Spider-Man films are now available to stream on Disney Plus.

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