Madame Web (2024)

It has reached a point for Sony that it would benefit them more to just turn over their Marvel properties, which seem to revolve solely around Spider-Man, to Disney.  Disney hasn't been doing great with the Marvel Cinematic Universe lately, but at least they occasionally figure out how to make the minor characters work.  Also, the only Sony films featuring a Marvel character that have done well are the Spider-Man movies that were made in tandem with Disney.  Sure, the Venom movies have been fun, but nothing that matches the main character in the series - a main character that the live-action movies take pains to ignore exists.

Besides two Venom films Sony has given us Morbius and Madame Web, both major financial and critical disappointments.  It's not something that's even new with Sony; the two Amazing Spider-Man films were misfires after the studio got nervous and rebooted the series after Spider-Man 3 instead of letting Sam Raimi get his series back on track.  They also can't keep from interfering and making demands on these films that change what may still have not been the greatest cinematic achievements into guaranteed flops.  It's as if, out of jealousy of Disney having everything else, Sony is determined to destroy the MCU through releasing a series of films that, to the general public, increase the superhero fatigue while chipping away at any goodwill that is left. 

In 1973 Constance Webb (Kerry Bishé) travels to the Peruvian Amazon in search of a spider reputed to give those it bites certain powers.  She hopes to use it for healing purposes, while her security man, Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), plans to steal the spider for his own uses.  After he shoots Constance, who is close to delivering her baby, she is rescued by a local tribe and given the venom.  While she doesn't survive her baby does.

30 years later Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson) works as a paramedic with her friend Ben Parker (Adam Scott).  After a near-death experience she finds herself suddenly able to glimpse the future.  This comes in handy when Sims, now possessing the power of the spider venom, tries to kill three teenagers - Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney), Anya Corazón (Isabela Merced) and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O'Connor) - that he has had visions of killing him in the future.  To keep the kids safe Cassandra returns to the Amazon to find out the truth and learn how to hone her powers in order to defeat Sims.

Like Morbius the main problem with Madame Web is not that it is a terrible film but that it is a bland one.  It's another origin story with a good part of the movie taken up by Cassandra learning to use her powers.  While the trailers made it look like it would feature three future Spider-Women, these are only in dream or vision sequences, not in any action that takes place.  Even worse, Cassandra only gets a little bit of power, with one big exception we only see used once.  She's pretty much useless in a one-on-one fight with Sims.

The other major drawback is that Dakota Johnson is not a great actor.  Her line delivery is flat, there never seems to be any real emotion, and it seems like beyond being a pretty face there isn't much to her.  Cassandra is supposed to have some depth and inner turmoil and none of that comes out.  Even worse is Tahar Rahim, and I can't even say it's him specifically.  Sims is a boring villain with no real motivation other than trying not to die and Rahim appears to be dubbed - terribly - throughout.  The dubbing isn't even the same volume as the rest of the dialogue.  It gives the movie an unfinished feeling even if the effects work is pretty decent. 

There is no question why audiences stayed away.  There is nothing new being offered, parts of the trailer were a bait and switch and there was nothing to interest even hardcore Marvel fans.  It's a shame because Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced and Celeste O'Connor, if used as promised, would have made the movie much better and provided an origin story for characters much more interesting than Madame Web.  Even though it ends with hints of there being a sequel there is no way it is going to happen.  At some point Sony will have to put their supposed Spider-Man universe out of its misery or just swallow their pride and realize the sale of the properties to Disney will make them more money than releasing yet another bland disappointment. 

Madame Web (2024)
Time: 116 minutes
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O'Connor, Tahar Rahim
Director: S.J. Clarkson



  1. It's probably the kind of movie that should have been mulched for a tax break instead of the Wil E Coyote one.


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