Madame Web Adds To The Sony Spider-Verse

Madame Web is the latest Sony Pictures installment in how to make a Spider-Man-adjacent movie without featuring Spider-Man.

Please note that there are no mid-credit or post-credit scenes. You are free to leave the theater at the end of the film. Obviously, you’re more than welcome to watch the credits. After all, many people worked hard to make the film a reality. But again, there are no teases or tie-ins to the wider universe. If you excuse me, I’m now going to get into spoiler territory.

What’s the next best thing to movies starring Spider-Man? Movies starring Spider-Woman. Or in this case, a movie starring three of them before they ever get any of their superpowers. Ultimately, the film is the most origin movie that any origin movie could possibly be. After the opening prologue in 1973, the film fast forwards to 2003 where we meet Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson). She’s working as an FDNY paramedic with her partner, Ben Parker (Adam Scott), in the years before he meets his beloved, May. You just had to know that they would find a way to incorporate the Parker family!

After dying for three minutes and coming back to like, Cassie’s life will never again be the same. She suddenly has the ability to see the future. There are questions about her past and sure enough, they bring her to Peru. In the meantime, Cassie uses her new powers to protect three random teenagers–Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney), Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced), and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor)–from Ezekiel Sims (Tahir Rahim). Even before saving them from death, she had crossed paths with them in one way or another.

Johnson’s version of Madame Web is very different from her comic counterpart. For one, she’s not old, blind, or in a wheelchair when we meet her. Instead, she’s young and active. So again, this film is very much an origin story.

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura discusses Cassie’s character being a Weaver in the production notes:

“Being a Weaver means that she can weave together the strands of time. She can see different timelines of the future, how they will interweave or not, depending on how events occur. It’s a very powerful ability to see into the future, and potentially affect it.”

I’m almost sure that this is a standalone universe rather than the current MCU. Obviously, time will tell. Sony set their Venom films in a different part of the multiverse. While the 2003 setting implies that this may be the current MCU, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) is 15 years old in fall 2016 in Spider-Man: Homecoming. This almost certainly puts the nail in this film being the main universe because the math is off. An alternate universe is more like it especially with Mary Parker (Emma Roberts) being pregnant in 2003. This would mean that Peter Parker is 13 years old in 2016, two years younger than the current MCU timeline.

This film’s version of Ezekiel Sims draws on the comics to an extent while also borrowing from Morlun. However, this version seems to want the power just for himself and he’s willing to kill if it means keeping that power. One has to wonder if either J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr. had villainy in mind for Sims. It’s one thing to be an anti-hero but this version of Sims is full-on villain without any sense of regret. The character is a Spider-Man ally in the comics so once again, they get things wrong with the movies. I’m no one to tell filmmakers how to do their job but how is it that Sims is a mixture of Sims and Morlun?!?

Madame Web may look like it means well but the film’s villain problem will be even more problematic down the line.

DIRECTOR: SJ Clarkson
SCREENWRITERS: Matt Sazama & Burk Sharpless and Claire Parker & SJ Clarkson
CAST: Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O’Connor, Tahar Rahim, Mike Epps, Emma Roberts, Adam Scott

Sony Pictures will release Madame Web in theaters on February 14, 2024. Grade: 3/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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