It was a ‘I had to look him up’ kind of thing,” Panitch tells Variety. “I didn’t have a lot of familiarity. And then we start watching these incredible dailies [from ‘Bullet Train’], and you really see the full-on action star. He’s charming and he’s funny and he’s holding his own against Brad Pitt. A lot of people can’t do that.”
Taylor-Johnson — who also headlined the R-rated comic book hero franchise “Kick-Ass” and played Quicksilver in Marvel Studios’ “Avengers: Age of Ultron” — so impressed Panitch that he instantly shot to the top of the list for “Kraven the Hunter,” the long-gestating adaptation of the Marvel comics anti-hero and Spider-Man antagonist dubbed the greatest hunter in the world. After a conversation with director J.C. Chandor (“Triple Frontier”), Taylor-Johnson landed the role.
Kraven” is the latest project in Sony’s renewed efforts to capitalize on its the trove of Marvel characters that came with the film rights to Spider-Man. Along with “Venom” starring Tom Hardy and its upcoming sequel “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” with Woody Harrelson as the title villain, Sony also has Jared Leto playing the vampiric “Morbius,” now set to premiere on Jan. 21.