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SYFY WIRE madame web

Sony spins Dakota Johnson to star in live-action 'Madame Web' Spider-Verse solo film

S.J. Clarkson (Jessica Jones, The Defenders) is on board as director.

By Josh Weiss
Dakota Johnson Amazing Spider Man #210 CX GETTY

Marvel's Madame Web really is climbing up the water spout and onto the big screen! Variety brings word that Dakota Johnson (Fifty Shades of GreyBad Times at the El Royale) has officially been tapped to play the character in Sony's first-ever female-led comic book adaptation. Amy Adams and Charlize Theron were previously said to be at the top of the studio's casting wishlist.

The project, which was first announced in May of 2020, will be helmed by S.J. Clarkson, who is no stranger to the Marvel Universe, having directed episodes of Jessica Jones and The Defenders at Netflix. Created by Dennis O'Neil and John Romita Jr., Madame Web made her publishing debut in the pages of 1980's The Amazing Spider-Man #210.

In the comics, Cassandra Webb is depicted as a frail and blind old woman who uses her psychic abilities to uncover Spider-Man's secret identity. Don't worry, though, she's one of the good guys. However, given that Johnson is in her early 30s, something tells us that Clarkson's film will serve as an origin story, or a fairly wide reimagining. Either that or the lead actress will be unrecognizable under a thick layer of prosthetics.

A bit like Barbara Gordon's Oracle over in the DC continuity, Madame Web proves to be a useful ally to New York's friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. While unable to leave the confines of a special chair that keeps her alive via a web-like setup, Cassandra provides Peter with crucial information that helps him save the day. Madame Web draws her prescient abilities from the Web of Life and Destiny, an apparatus that allows one to observe and travel between the infinite realities of the multiverse (a concept that is now playing a huge part in the Marvel Cinematic Universe).

Madame Web's cinematic debut is one of several Spider-Verse spinoffs currently in the works at Sony, which owns the screen rights to Peter Parker and the rest of his comic book cadre. Movies and shows based on Morbius the Living Vampire, Kraven the Hunter, and Silk are all confirmed and in some stage of production (in particular, Morbius is primed for a theatrical bow in early April). The first part of a two-part sequel to the Oscar-winning Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse arrives in theaters this fall.

“[We have] the next seven or eight years laid out as to what we’re going to do with [Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters], and that will not only be on the film side — it’ll be on the TV side.” Sony Chairman and CEO Tony Vinciquerra revealed in 2019. "Our television group will have its own set of characters from within that universe that we will seek to develop."

Sony is currently enjoying the box office fruits of Spider-Man: No Way Home, which has made over $1 billion in ticket sales worldwide.