Summary

  • Madame Web has a clunky script and lacks charm, with awkward dialogue and underdeveloped characters.
  • The movie wants to be a Spider-Man film but falls short due to its thin world-building and strange relationship to Peter Parker.
  • Despite some stylistic elements in its filmmaking, Madame Web is ultimately boring, unimaginative, and dated.


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Ever since Sony Pictures struck a deal to have Spider-Man join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the studio has tried to build up a cinematic franchise of their own based on related characters, the latest entry of which is Madame Web. Similar to Venom and Morbius, Madame Web follows a character originally introduced in relation to Spider-Man in Marvel Comics, but because of the nature of Sony’s deal with Marvel Studios, it has to work around the lack of Peter Parker. In Madame Web‘s case, that means introducing four other Spider-People… sort of.


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 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.

Pros

  • Madame Web has some stylistic flourishes in its filmmaking
Cons

  • The script is full of clunky expositional dialogue
  • The cast doesn’t have any chemistry together
  • The Marvel world-building is unimaginative and frustrating


Madame Web centers on Cassandra “Cassie” Web (Dakota Johnson), the daughter of a spider researcher who died in the Amazon after giving birth to Cassie. When Cassie is in an accident where her heart stops, she develops clairvoyant powers that lead her to cross paths with three young girls. Those three girls — Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney), Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced) and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor) — are the targets of Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), a man who gained powers from the spiders Cassie’s mother researched. Convinced the three girls will kill him, Ezekiel sets out to kill them first.


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Madame Web Has A Clunky Script & Very Little Charm

Mattie Franklin, Cassandra Webb, Anya Corazon and Julia Cornwall in Madame Web trailer


The Madame Web script, which was written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (Morbius, Gods of Egypt), Claire Parker and director S.J. Clarkson, is rife with overly expository dialogue and lines that sound awkward and unnatural even when delivered by the movie’s biggest stars. Certainly, there are moments when Johnson’s characteristic dry tone makes Cassie’s trite remarks more unintentionally funny than groan-inducing, like, “Hope the spiders were worth it, mom.”


Rahim’s Ezekiel is saddled with even more ridiculous lines, all of which make him sound like a one-dimensional caricature of a Marvel movie villain rather than a fully realized character. Similarly, the three Spider-Girls are little more than their backstories, depicting three archetypes of teenage girlhood rather than actually developed characters – Mattie is the rebel, Anya the smart one, and Julia the awkward girl next door. They’re given little to do besides make Cassie’s job of protecting them more difficult, and even in the moments when they’re meant to be building some kind of dynamic, there’s no compelling chemistry.

There are no real standouts in the
Madame Web
cast, though it’s not necessarily the fault of the actors.


In fact, the girls have a much more comedic dynamic with Adam Scott’s Ben in a brief scene than they do with Johnson’s Cassie. All told, there are no real standouts in the Madame Web cast, though it’s not necessarily the fault of the actors, since it seems unlikely anyone could sell the movie’s awful script.

Madame Web Is Another Casualty Of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe

The Marvel movie wants to have its Spider-Man cake and eat it, too


Of all the Sony’s Spider-Man Universe movies that have been released — Venom, Venom: Let There Be Carnage and MorbiusMadame Web easily has the strangest relationship to Spider-Man. Whereas Venom and Morbius, for the most part, acted as if Spider-Man doesn’t exist, Madame Web is constantly wink-wink, nudge-nudging the audience about him. It’s made worse because the movie includes three characters who become a version of Spider-Man, but relegates them to side characters. Madame Web clearly wants to be a Spider-Man movie, and comes closer than previous SSU installments, but it’s still not actually a Spider-Man movie.

The backstory for Cassie Web and her powers in
Madame Web
is so bafflingly nonsensical as to be laughable.


Unfortunately, Madame Web proves how difficult it is to tell the story of a Spider-Man-related character without Peter Parker himself, especially when the original worldbuilding is thin and contrived at best. Somehow, Madame Web makes getting superpowers from the bite of a radioactive spider sound more plausible and simplistic. Sure, there’s no shortage of ridiculous stories in Marvel Comics, but the backstory for Cassie Web and her powers in Madame Web is so bafflingly nonsensical as to be laughable. Even with Spider-People in the movie, Madame Web can’t make up for the glaring hole that is Spider-Man.

Madame Web Has Very Few Redeeming Elements

Director S.J. Clarkson delivers some stylistic flourishes

Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson) looking at a spider web in Madame Web trailer


The way Clarkson brings Cassie’s visions of the future to life is genuinely disorienting, which allows us to feel immersed in her powers. It can be a little frustrating at times, especially for those who already know what Madame Web’s powers are, so this effect might work better for those who are unfamiliar. Clarkson also brings this style of point-of-view shots to some of the other Spider-People, especially Ezekiel Sims, which makes the movie look visually dynamic at times. However, there’s too much confusing editing and murky darkness in the action scenes to say the cinematography is interesting.


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In the end, Madame Web has very little to offer, even for those who tend to enjoy Sony’s Marvel movies. Like Venom and Morbius, Madame Web seems oddly like a superhero movie written in the early 2000s — though, in this case, the film actually does take place in that time period.


While Venom still manages to be fun, in large part thanks to Tom Hardy’s ability to sell the relationship between Eddie Brock and his alien symbiote, Madame Web is boring, unimaginative and dated, despite being one of very few superhero movies centering on female superheroes. All in all, Madame Web is a superhero movie you can absolutely skip.


Madame Web

Release Date
February 14, 2024

Director
S.J. Clarkson

Writers
Burk Sharpless , Matt Sazama , Kerem Sanga

Key Release Dates

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