Warning: This article contains SPOILERS for Madame Web


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Summary

  • Madame Web introduces Peter Parker to the Sony Spider-Verse, creating timeline questions.
  • Spider-Man is a constant in the Sony Universe, but Madame Web’s timeline doesn’t align with Tom Holland’s character.
  • Madame Web’s universe is separate from Venom’s universe, suggesting a new origin story for Spider-Man.


Madame Web finally introduces Peter Parker to the Sony Spider-Verse movie timeline, but in doing so creates more timeline questions than it answers. Madame Web was initially presumed to be a multiverse project, given Cassandra Webb’s original Marvel Comics powers, potentially setting up a legitimate crossover with the MCU’s multiverse, but that’s not the case. The Dakota Johnson vehicle is, in contrast, a far more self-contained movie, establishing another timeline within Sony’s multiverse web, set in 2003.


One of the immutable truths that the Sony Universe has to abide by, at least according to one of its key creatives, is that Spider-Man is a constant. As Morbius director Daniel Espinosa confirmed when asked about Spider-Man’s existence in Sony’s universe after Vulture (Michael Keaton) appeared to set up the Sinister Six:


…In almost all Spider-Verse or, you know, the (universes) that existed in the Marvel universe, if you read the comic books, the whole idea of that kind of – the Marvel string theory, if you would call it that. It’s very related to, if you remember, the alternative Seinfelds. You have a world where you have the same characters, and it’s ALL of the characters, but they are slightly different. So in almost all verses, you have Spider-Man, or a Fantastic Four, or a Tony Stark, or a Morbius. But they will be different in tone. That’s not quite the way that the Marvel Cinematic Universe (is) approaching the idea, but they’re remaining to some core truth.
Then you have the second kind of legend, which is about the totem. Which is that, in all universes, there is a spider totem. Which means that in all universes, there has to be a Spider-Man. Or a Spider-Woman.


The logic, then, was always that Spider-Man would exist in the Sony Universe, but perhaps that the presence of three Spider-Women in Madame Web would mean that Spider-Man would sit this strand of the universe out. Surprisingly, Madame Web sets up Peter Parker’s origin story at the earliest point ever seen in a Marvel movie: his birth. But that part of Madame Web‘s ending isn’t as straight forward as it might appear.


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Who Is Spider-Man In Madame Web’s Universe?

Peter Parker Exists, But Which One?


Throughout Madame Web, there’s a secondary storyline around Ben Parker (Adam Scott) becoming Uncle Ben, thanks to the birth of his unnamed nephew to his sister-in-law Mary (Emma Roberts). Early on, Dakota Johnson’s Cassie attends her baby shower, and by the end of the movie, Mary goes into labor, and Peter is born off-screen. Interestingly, he’s never actually named, as something of a gag for the baby shower sequence.

Madame Web Is Too Early For Tom Holland

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man debuted at age 15 in 2016 in the MCU (despite Homecoming‘s infamous “8 years later” mistake, which has now been undone). That means he couldn’t have been born in 2003, when Madame Web is set. There was limited suggestion that Madame Web was actually set in the MCU’s Sacred Timeline, but the date offers even firmer confirmation.


Spider-Man Actors’ Age Comparison

Actor

Movie Debut

Actor’s Age

Peter Parker’s Age

Tobey Maguire

Spider-Man (2002)

26

17

Andrew Garfield

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

27

17

Tom Holland

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

20

15


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Madame Web Is Set Too Late For Maguire Or Garfield

Madame Web‘s established setting of 2003 might seem like a long time ago, given it’s 21 years since Cassie Web gained her powers in-universe, but horrifically, we are now at the point where a nostalgic look at 21 years in the past is still not as long ago as the release of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. Raimi’s Spider-Man was born around the early 1980s, so is ruled out very definitively here. Even Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man was 17 in 2012, making him too old to fit the 2003 birth year. Unfortunately, that ruins the chance for Madame Web and either of the first two Spider-Men to crossover in any future Madame Web sequel.


That doesn’t fully rule out either Maguire or Garfield still being the Spider-Man of the VenomVerse, though, because Madame Web cannot be set in the same universe as Venom, Let There Be Carnage, or Morbius. Not unless we’re all supposed to accept a fairly huge plot hole…

Madame Web Movie Poster Featuring Sydney Sweeney as Julia Carpenter, Isabela Merced as Anya Corazon, Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, Celeste O'Connor as Mattie Franklin, and Tahar Rahim as Ezekiel Sims

Madame Web

Madame Web is a superhero movie based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name. Taking place in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, the movie revolves around a clairvoyant woman who can look into different dimensions. Dakota Johnson stars in the lead role, with Sydney Sweeney, Adam Scott, Isabela Merced, and Celeste O’Connor comprising the rest of the cast.

Release Date
February 14, 2024

Director
S.J. Clarkson

Runtime
114 Mins

What Universe Is Madame Web Even In?!

The Marvel Multiverse Timeline Just Gets More Complex


Despite the apparent simplicity of setting Madame Web in the same universe as Tom Hardy’s Venom movies, Sony instead seem to have chosen to go in a different direction. The official synopsis quickly establishes it as a stand-alone, and Lorenzo di Bonaventura explained to ComicBook why the decision was made:


“We made a decision early on that the advantage in this story was not to attach it to all these other stories, We tip the hat. But really, we wanted to concentrate on a character journey, and I think some of the superhero fatigue that people talk about is because those movies are often not about the central character.”

And so we felt it was a stronger choice for us to say, ‘This is Madame Web’s story. She comes out of the Spider-Man comic books, but it’s not part of this other giant thing. It is its own standalone, which gave the freedom to really tell the character story.”


If that wasn’t clear enough, Madame Web‘s events establish the movie as a separate concern. The introduction of the three female Spider-People establishes a major hint that this is not Venom’s universe. Otherwise, where did the cabal of superheroes go? Or why weren’t they concerned by the arrival of several symbiotes? And where is the Peter Parker who is born at the end of Madame Web? Morbius’ director has also since confirmed that the Spider-Man of Sony’s universe is set behind-the-scenes, which all predates Madame Web.

Madame Web Suggests A Totally New Origin For Spider-Man

The other consideration here, of course, is the fundamental change to the Spider-Man origin story. In both Raimi’s trilogy, and The Amazing Spider-Man movies, Peter is bitten by the traditional mutated spider; in the MCU, it’s a radioactive spider, following the same sort of trend. In both cases, human involvement is either implied or outright confirmed. But in Madame Web‘s universe, the spider that grants Cassie her powers is an organic mutant, worshipped for its superpowers by Las Arañas (the Spider People of Peru).


If we are to accept that this is the same universe as one of the established Spider-Men, we’d have to also accept that two entirely separate superheroes were empowered coincidentally by two completely separate and unrelated spider-bite incidents.

Madame Web Dropped The Ball On Spider-Man

We Could Have Finally Got The Answer To Sony’s Spider-Man Mystery


Madame Web could have been the perfect opportunity to bring Spider-Man into the Sony universe: the 2003 setting always seemed like a conscious decision to add in the necessary prequel stage for that very purpose. Without the justification of establishing Peter Parker’s family backstory, setting back in 2003 feels less logical. Yes, we get the Uncle Ben/Mary Parker storyline, but if removed, it has literally no impact on the rest of the movie: worse, without the anchor to another future Spider-Man, it looks like fan-baiting.


Even though Sony’s Spider-Verse was always set up as an annex where Spider-Man may never appear, Peter Parker (or Miles Morales, come to that) is painfully conspicuous by his absence. Villains miss their context and their definition without their greatest nemesis, and what’s left is a procession of underwhelming villains for them to fight instead. It should all have been pointing towards a real Spider-Man reveal (and it might still), and it’s hard not to think that Madame Web‘s missed opportunity to reveal which Spider-Man rules the Sony Spider-Verse is a huge oversight.

Key Release Dates

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