Madame Web – Review


Sony has been hoping to keep the license to Spider-Man films by creating films centred around the side characters of the franchise. We’ve previously had the two Venom movies and Morbius, showcasing varied success in their departments. I personally can’t stand any of the movies, I think the Venom movies aren’t very good for a variety of reasons, and Morbius, even though it has the reputation of the fun kind of bad movie, I view it quite cynically and struggle to get through it.

Madame Web is one of the strangest choices to make a film out of. Anyone born after the 1990’s, who actually remembers this character? She’s barely in any of the Spider-Man comics! The only reason I knew this character existed was because of the ’90s Spider-Man cartoons, which is way more accessible now because of Disney Plus, but it’s still a really obscure character. This is clearly a character that was floating around the production office during the time the Aunt May Secret Agent movie was proposed (thankfully, that one never got off the ground).

There is a fundamental problem with all of these films, and this film made it more prevalent than ever.

The question then goes, Why does this movie exist? Well, in my opinion, it’s just to keep the license. I don’t get why, it’s not as if Sony needed a Spider-Man movie this year since Beyond the Spider-Verse is coming out in a few months!

The writing and directing team don’t have much pedigree. It’s directed by S.J. Clarkson, and thank you, Angry Joe, for your video review, because I had no clue who this was when I saw the name, apparently, she directed a few episodes of Ugly Betty and she also directed a pilot for a Game of Thrones series, which once HBO saw it, they immediately shelved- that’s how bad it was! HBO said no thanks!

As for the writing team, there’s Claire Parker, as well as Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. Who are those guys? Well, they’re the writing team behind such bombs as Morbius, Dracula Untold (which sunk the Universal Monsters Universe before it ever got off the ground), the cinematic abomination that was Gods of Egypt, and the 2017 Power Rangers movie, which I didn’t hate as much as everyone else, but that isn’t saying much.

Man, have they all excelled themselves with this one. This film is a dumpster fire. Despite all of those films mentioned, it rivals even Gods of Egypt for the worst film these people have ever worked on. I could talk about the plot of this film, but if the writers didn’t even care about it, I don’t see why I should.

Basically, it centres around Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson) who is trying to save the new group of Spider-Women with her newly found powers. Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney), Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced), and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor) face up against villain Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim). If you didn’t recognise that villain’s name, don’t worry I didn’t either- he’s another pretty obscure Spider-Man character. Before you look up anything about him, just know that they brought pretty much nothing from his comic counterpart into this story. Some of these retcons are terrible, and it goes back to the fundamental point that I mentioned earlier, these characters aren’t interesting without Spider-Man. There are a few that can work by themselves, like I could see Spider-Gwen having a good movie, and Jessica Drew as Spider-Woman has obtained her own identity and character arcs which would make a decent movie with the right team.

The point is the characters don’t work. Madame Web in particular isn’t interesting by herself, and Venom isn’t interesting without Spider-Man. He’s good as a foil or being a side character but that’s about it, and I’m really getting bored of Marvel trying to push him, and Sony is making it worse. These stories are all fundamentally flawed since they want to remind us about Spider-Man without actually including him. This film is set even before he was born, and Miles Morales is decades off even being conceived! There’s a whole subplot around Mary Parker in this movie, which is when the penny drops that Adam Scott is Uncle Ben. I like him as an actor, but he is really miscast in this.

Every single change that they make in this movie regarding the lore actually dilutes Spider-Man. There are a lot of things that are introduced in this movie but by the time Spider-Man comes along, he won’t be unique or interesting, he’s just another person in a line of Spider-people that came before him.

There’s an Amazonian tribe that worships spiders that seem to get powers, similar to Spider-Man and even wear vines similar to his costume. By the way, Cassandra Webb gets her powers in this one due to a rare spider bite from a spider that her mother was planning to use to cure diseases, which will probably be the same spider that will be used to give Peter Parker his powers- and it really overcomplicates the wider lore for no reason.

Considering the Rotten Tomato score, you won’t need to take note of this lore, since it definitely won’t be showing up in any of the comics.

The dialogue in this film is appalling. Apart from the terrible dialogue, I think that the direction is terrible. They’re not given anything to work with! For one thing, no one talks like a human being, there’s just constant exposition, and no one really has much motivation. Dakota Johnson is desperately trying to give Cassandra Webb some character development centred around something to do with motherhood, but it comes out of nowhere and isn’t conveyed very well. It just feels really tacked on.

The villain’s motivations are even weaker. He wants the spider powers because he’s been downtrodden in his home country, but they don’t really go further on that, and then he just wants to kill the other three because they’re going to kill him in the future… that’s all there is to it. He’s a terrible villain. I really have to ask the question, why is he in an evil Spider-Man costume? He doesn’t even have a costume in the comics, it was needlessly added for the costume department to work on, and it doesn’t even look good! If anything, it makes him blend in too much to some of the environments.

This film has some of the worst shot footage I’ve ever seen, by the way. I don’t know who wanted the film done with this many quick cuts, but it was a bad decision, I couldn’t tell what was happening at all.

Before you go to see this film out of some morbid curiosity, this isn’t a ‘fun but bad’ movie, it’s just a bad movie because you know it only exists as a product. It’s not a piece of art, it’s a product, It’s designed to keep Spider-Man in Sony. I’ve seen a couple of reviews describe this as a filler episode of the ongoing universe. For all that is holy, please stop now! Give it back to Disney, this isn’t working. The Spider-Verse movies were the one good thing out of this, and if you keep pushing this, it will lower the stock of a lot of good side characters.

I won’t mince my words, Madame Web is the worst of the Sony Spider-Man movies to date and is one of the worst superhero movies that I’ve seen in my reviewing career. It rivals the 2014 Fantastic Four movie for how bad it is. If it’s not in the top 3 of everyone’s worst films of 2024, I will be very surprised.
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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2 comments on “Madame Web – Review
  1. Bilal Islam says:

    Venom definitely can work without Spider-Man. That being said, the second Venom movie was trash because they ruined Carnage.

  2. Bilal Islam says:

    BTW Disney has ruined Marvel too, they don’t deserve the license either.

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