The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer


‘Madame Web’ Joins Sony’s Spider-Man Universe in Film Installment

Although the Marvel comic book film adaptation was released on Valentine’s Day, the film did not receive all the love and roses expected
The latest of Sony and Marvel’s film adaptations, “Madame Web” opened to less than stellar reviews and generally negative reception.

Sony’s Spider-Man Universe was recently expanded with the release of “Madame Web” on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. The film is based on the character Cassandra Webb/Madame Web (Dakota Johnson), who was introduced in the 1980s in “The Amazing Spider-Man No. 210.” 

The clairvoyant heroine was created by writer Denny O’Neil and artist John Romita Jr. The adaptation of the Marvel comic had one of the worst openings for a Marvel character, making only $25.8 million during its first six-day run.

The storyline revolves around Webb, a paramedic with psychic abilities that enable her to see the future. She grapples with the loss of her mother and unresolved questions from her past —  as well as having frequent visions and premonitions — all while trying to protect three girls Julia Carpenter (Sydney Sweeney), Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor), and Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced) who are being targeted by a mysterious adversary determined to harm them.

During the press tour for “Madame Web,” several media outlets and users on TikTok discussed Johnson’s candid commentary regarding the film. Additionally, Johnson revealed that she was unknowledgeable of the Sony-Marvel universe or Spider-Man himself. When Josh Horowitz —  an   MTV interviewer asked if she could name the Spider-Man films, Johnson joked and made up three names for each film — her disinterest and lack of enthusiasm about the project are both amusing and disappointing. 

I have never been a fan of comic books, but I have always enjoyed watching superhero films. I saw “Madame Web” on opening night and the minute the large IMAX screen went dark and the lights in the cinema came back on, I began to wonder: how does Madame Web fit into the Spider-Verse? 

“Madame Web” didn’t feel like a typical Marvel superhero movie. Instead, it was seemingly a psychological comedy-action film. For over half of the movie’s duration, the main character is plagued by visions that confuse reality with her imagination, leading her to question everyone and everything around her. 

A different choice of villain would have greatly benefited the film’s plot. Unfortunately, the villain in “Madame Web,” Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), lacked the charisma, strength, and excitement that a villain should have — a villain should be powerful, cunning, mysterious, manipulative and fearful, thereby making the film more thrilling and intense.

Despite its flaws, “Madame Web” showcases a new form of heroism and strength.

The movie also falls short of providing sufficient background information about the antagonist. It portrays Ezekiel Sims as a man who desires unlimited power, but it never clarifies what he intends to do with it. His character revolves solely around his tendency to retaliate against anyone who poses a threat to him. I often find myself rooting for the villains in these movies because they can add complexity to the story, creating tension and emotion. However, Ezekiel was missing all of these traits which made it a less enjoyable experience to watch.

Other players in the cast showcase diversity, especially through the three Spider-Women. The film emphasizes that despite coming from different backgrounds and having unique identities, these girls can relate to and share their complicated lives and flaws. Despite these positives, stereotypes are also perpetuated, such as the portrayal of the main Hispanic character Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced) — one of the Spider-Women — as an illegal immigrant. Anya Corazon is hiding from the cops to avoid deportation and lives alone because her father was deported.  It is essential to accurately represent multiple aspects of Hispanic people in the United States, including their culture, traditions, and interests, and not stereotype all Hispanic individuals as illegal immigrants. 

Prior to the film’s release, I watched several trailers and advertisements which mainly featured the Spider-Women. The advertisement alluded that the Spider-Women — with their suits and powers — would play a significant role in the movie and that most of the action would revolve around them. I was disappointed to find that, despite the marketing, the Spider-Women only appeared in the movie for about a minute during a premonition. This leaves the door open for a continuation where audiences might see the Spider-Women in action. For now, though, that brief appearance was all we got.

The script failed to capture the depth involved in a woman trying to save the lives of three girls and to stop a murderer. Instead of being a serious movie, the plot line and dialogue was crammed with unnecessary humor. While I appreciated the intended humor, some jokes and conversations between the characters made the movie appear more childish, which constrained the actors’ performances. 

Despite its flaws, “Madame Web” showcases a new form of heroism and strength. Most superheroes depicted in Marvel have physical abilities such as super strength, flying, and web-slinging. There is a famous saying that not all heroes wear capes. For Madame Web, strength lies not only in muscles and speed but in the mind of one powerful woman.

Although the film did not meet all my expectations, I did enjoy “Madame Web” and would like to see a continuation of this story and its characters. The film kept me wondering about the world we could live in if someone like Madame Web — with the ability to see the future and save lives — were real. Although a sequel has not been confirmed, I’m interested to see what the future holds for the character’s storyline.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
ANDREA RIVAS, Staff Writer

Comments (0)

The Observer reserves the right to remove any comments that contain any of the following: threats or harassment, hateful language and/or slurs, spam (including advertisements unrelated to the topic of a given post), and incoherent phrasing. See the Community Guidelines page under the About tab for more information. Please allow up to a few days for submitted comments to be approved.
All The Observer Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *