Who is Ariana DeBose’s Marvel Supervillain Calypso?

Remix By Keane Eacobellis

Oscar-nominee Ariana DeBose has found her next project in the form of upcoming Sony/Marvel movie Kraven the Hunter. The past 12 months have been crazy busy for the Hamilton actress, as she appeared in TV’s Schmigadoon and Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story remake, the latter earning her a Best Supporting Actress nomination for the 2022 Academy Awards. The musical veteran is switching it up with this superhero film, though, which will see her take a break from singing and dancing to play a sinister supervillain. Here’s everything you need to know about DeBose’s next role.

What is Kraven the Hunter?

kraven the hunter
Via Marvel Comics

Kraven the Hunter is the latest installment in Sony’s Spider-Man universe, which already comprises Venom, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and the incoming Morbius. Just like those films turned comic book villains into leading anti-heroes, Kraven will do the same.

Kick-Ass and Avengers: Age of Ultron star Aaron Taylor-Johnson plays the titular character (real name: Sergei Kravinoff), usually depicted as a big-game hunter who’s set his sights on Spidey. There’s currently no word on whether Tom Holland will show up at all in this spinoff, however.

Russell Crowe has also been cast, as has Fred Hechinger (The Woman in the Window), who will portray Kraven’s brother, Dmitri Smerdyakov, aka fellow Spider-Man villain Chameleon. Triple Frontier director J.C. Chandor is behind the camera, with the script coming from Uncharted scribe Matt Holloway. Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach are producing. The project is a priority for Sony as Kraven the Hunter is set to open in theaters on Jan. 13, 2023.

Who is Calypse Ezili?

Via Marvel Comics

Though it’s yet to be officially confirmed, reports are saying DeBose has signed up for Kraven to play Calypso, someone who might not be hugely familiar to more casual Marvel fans but has nonetheless had a fascinating history in the comic books.

Real name Calypso Ezili, the supervillainess made her debut in Amazing Spider-Man #209 in 1980, as created by writer Denny O’Neil and artist Alan Weiss. An extremely powerful and psychopathic voodoo priestess of Haitian nationality, Calypso was introduced as the partner in crime and lover of Kraven. Not that she was a particularly supportive girlfriend. Calypso enjoyed fueling Kraven’s obsessive hatred for the webhead, leading to his suicide in the “Kraven’s Last Hunt” story arc, which is expected to be a big influence on the movie.

Calypso later bewitched Lizard into aiding her in an attack on Spider-Man, with the pernicious pair even almost succeeding in murdering the hero. In another storyline, she abducted a group of Haitian refugees and transformed them into a zombie slave army, before Daredevil stopped her. The character has already been brought to the screen twice before, in Spider-Man: The Animated Series from the 1990s and the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon in 2008.

Having received her powers after sacrificing her own younger sister, Calypso is a truly evil force — not to mention unstoppable, as her talent for necromancy means she has come back from the dead many times. It’s currently unclear how she’ll be adapted and updated for the Kraven the Hunter movie, but there’s a strong chance that we’ll be seeing a whole other side of DeBose thanks to her role as Calypso.

In addition to Kraven, the 31-year-old actress is also due to appear in sci-fi thriller I.S.S. and Kingsman creator Matthew Vaughn’s new spy film Argylle, opposite Henry Cavill, which is currently in production. Following her historic SAG win at the weekend, we’ll find out if Ariana DeBose wins the Oscar when that ceremony takes place on March 27.

Kraven the Hunter is due to start shooting soon.