MADAME WEB Review – Swings and Misses, But Has Great Players and Snazzy Outfits

MADAME WEB is better than expected
Madame Web Review

Sony Pictures’ Madame Web attempts to weave another thread into the vast tapestry of the Spider-Man universe, albeit without its titular hero. This latest endeavor is symptomatic of a broader trend observed in Sony’s handling of Spider-Man adjacent properties: an apparent eagerness to exploit the franchise’s popularity without a corresponding commitment to the source material’s integrity or depth. Despite a stellar cast’s efforts, Madame Web is ensnared in a web of narrative missteps and missed opportunities, illustrating the ongoing challenges Sony faces in expanding the Spider-Verse.

Misguided Narratives and Villainous Miscues

Madame Web

At the heart of Madame Web lies a narrative decision that is as baffling as it is revealing of Sony’s approach to the Spider-Man lore. The choice to center the film’s antagonism on Ezekiel, rather than Morlun, a character whose motivations and methods align more naturally with the movie’s plot, is indicative of a perplexing disregard for the rich narrative veins of the source material. Morlun’s absence is not just a missed opportunity but a stark reminder of Sony’s habit of arbitrary narrative choices that seem disconnected from the Spider-Man universe’s core themes and history.

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This decision underscores a broader issue within Sony’s Spider-Man adjacent projects: a tendency to prioritize superficial plot elements over substantive engagement with the characters and worlds they seek to portray. As a result, Madame Web feels like yet another instance of Sony’s struggle to understand or appreciate the source material’s nuances, opting instead for a more haphazard and less respectful use of the Marvel license.

That 2000’s Movie

Madame Web

Madame Web sets its scene in the early 2000s, an era ripe with potential for nostalgic allure. However, the film’s attempt to capture the zeitgeist of the time often feels forced and superficial. An overemphasis on Pepsi and other dated references comes across as a clumsy attempt to evoke nostalgia, lacking the authenticity or purpose that might have lent depth to the setting. This approach is emblematic of the film’s broader narrative strategy, which seems to prioritize surface-level details over meaningful or coherent engagement with the era it seeks to depict.

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Moreover, the dialogue frequently succumbs to cheesiness, reaching its nadir in a ham-fisted attempt to riff on the iconic Spider-Man mantra, “With great power comes great responsibility.” This iteration of the famous line feels both clumsy and unearned, further highlighting the screenplay’s disconnect from the essence of what has made Spider-Man a lasting and beloved figure in popular culture and Sony’s obvious misunderstanding of the franchise yet fervent determination to cash in on the license.

A Stellar Cast in a Tangled Narrative

Madame Web
Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced), Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson), Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney) and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor) in Columbia Pictures’ MADAME WEB.

Despite these narrative shortcomings, Madame Web is buoyed by the strength of its performances. Dakota Johnson, along with Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O’Connor, and Isabela Merced, bring surprising levels of fun to their roles that often transcend the material they are given. Their chemistry is a highlight, suggesting the dynamic and engaging film that might have been if the script had matched the caliber of its cast. The portrayal of the Spider-Women, though limited, showcases intriguing character designs and a visual flair that hints at the untapped potential of these characters within a more thoughtfully developed project.

A Thread of Potential

The film’s action sequences and visual design offer fleeting glimpses of what Madame Web might have achieved with a more coherent vision. The suits of the Spider-Women, in particular, are visually striking and suggest a rich potential for exploration in future projects. These moments of visual and kinetic excitement serve as a reminder of the inherent appeal of the Spider-Man universe and the potential for captivating storytelling within it.

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However, these positive aspects are too often overshadowed by the film’s broader narrative and thematic missteps. The action, while competently staged, is undercut by a lack of narrative cohesion, and the film’s visual strengths are not enough to compensate for its storytelling deficiencies.

A Web of Missed Opportunities

Madame Web
Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson) in Columbia Pictures’ MADAME WEB.

Ultimately, Madame Web exemplifies the continued errors Sony keeps making in attempting to expand the Spider-Verse, without any sort of attempt understanding Spider-Man. The film seemingly lucks out with its stellar cast that anchors the disjointed narrative and underscores the potential squandered by a lack of fidelity to the source material and a seemingly opportunistic approach to franchise expansion. While Madame Web may offer moments of enjoyment, particularly through its performances and visual design, it remains a testament to what could have been—a more thoughtful and respectful engagement with one of Marvel’s most intriguing characters and the universe she inhabits.

As Sony continues to explore the Spider-Man adjacent properties, one hopes for a recalibration of their approach, one that respects the source material’s depth, complexity, and emotional resonance. The talents of Johnson, Sweeney, O’Connor, and Merced deserve a narrative framework that matches their abilities and a vision that embraces the rich storytelling potential of the Spider-Verse. Until then, Madame Web stands as a missed opportunity in a universe replete with them.

For being better than expected, but continuing Sony’s pattern of trying to build movies around Spider-Man instead of building on incredible characters that are connected to Spider-Man, and because the cast really did well with what they had, I give Madame Web a


Madame Web releases in theaters on February 14, 2024.

About Madame Web

Madame Web

Release Date: February 14, 2024
Director: SJ Clarkson
Screenplay by: Claire Parker & SJ Clarkson
Story By: Kerem Sanga
Based on the Marvel Comics
Producer: Lorenzo Di Bonaventura
Executive Producers: Adam Merims, Claire Parker
Cast: Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O’Connor, Isabela Merced, Tahar Rahim, Mike Epps, Emma Roberts, Adam Scott

“Meanwhile, in another universe…” In a switch from the typical genre, Madame Web tells the standalone origin story of one of Marvel publishing’s most enigmatic heroines. The suspense-driven thriller stars Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic in Manhattan who may have clairvoyant abilities. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she forges a relationship with three young women destined for powerful futures…if they can all survive a deadly present.

Are you excited about Madame Web? Do you think this would be a great Valentine’s date? Do you also wish it was Morlun instead of Ezekial? Let us know what you think on Discord!

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Kevin Fenix

Professional Nerd | Amateur Human | Creative/Content Director The best way to describe Kevin Fenix is the kid you never tell what the buttons do in video games so you have a chance to win. Being 6’ 4” and Asian, he never really fit in, so he got comfortable standing out. Not only is it easy to find him in crowds, he dabbles in the culinary arts, does a little stand up and improv, and can honestly say Spider-Man is the Jesus-like influence of his life. Kevin Fenix loves dogs, movies, television, comics, comedy, and to shoot people… with video.