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What's the deal with Madame Web? What her new film could mean for Sony's Spider-Verse
Let's take a look at Marvel's resident spider-themed psychic and her potential place on the big screen.
It's no secret that Sony Pictures has spent the last several years slowly assembling a burgeoning cinematic universe based on the Spider-Man cast from Marvel Comics, including the webslinger's various villains and allies. So far that effort has produced three live-action feature films -- two Venom movies and the much-delayed-but-still-completed Morbius -- and many more are in various stages of development. This week, though, we got word that one of those projects seems poised to rise up and become Sony's next big Spider-Verse effort: Madame Web.
Dakota Johnson will reportedly star as Sony's big-screen incarnation of the character, who's been crawling around Marvel Comics for more than four decades now. But how does Madame Web work as a standalone starring character for a feature film, and what does her presence mean for the growing Spider-Verse? Let's take a look at exactly who she is, and see what implications we might be able to unpack.
Madame Web, real name Cassandra Webb, first appeared as a Spider-Man ally in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man under the guidance of legendary creators Denny O'Neil and John Romita Jr. She was introduced as a clairvoyant whose latent psychic abilities made up for a physical disability that kept her confined to a life-support designed to resemble a spider's web. She was blind, frail, and physically weak, but she could do amazing things like help Spider-Man track down missing persons and even help him battle various villains through her visions.
Of course, as with any character who's been around for a while in a superhero universe, Madame Web's whole deal eventually got a bit more complicated. At one point she participated in an arcane ritual that apparently granted her immortality and gave her both youth and the ability to move around without her web apparatus. That gift was apparently taken from her, along with her telepathy, in a battle with her own granddaughter, the fourth Spider-Woman Charlotte Witter, who was brainwashed by Doctor Octopus and turned into a villain (because Comics). She even died at one point at the hands of the Kravinoff family, only to be brought back by the Jackal as a clone. So...Madame Web has been through it, y'all.
All of this means that, when it comes to a film adaptation, there are multiple versions of the character to draw from, particularly if you get into animation, where Madame Web's inherent clairvoyant ability to see various realities connected her even more deeply to the Marvel multiverse. Sony and Marvel have both leaned heavily into the multiverse concept over the last few years, and that doesn't seem to be going away anytime soon. It's possible that Madame Web will emerge as an almost Doctor Strange-like figure in the Spider-Verse, able to see the entire tangled web of reality and connect various beings through it.
But that's far from the only possibility. Given that the Morbius screenwriting duo of Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless are at work on the Madame Web script, it's possible things will lean into a more horror-focused direction, playing up the psychic aspect of the character. After all, a name like "Madame Web" is creepy, and the idea of people visiting a psychic woman who sits in a spider's web brings to mind all kinds of interesting possibilities, particularly if she starts seeing visions of new villains emerging in her universe. With her back against the wall (or the web), she might just decide to venture out and take matters into her own hands.
The psychic angle is probably a component we can count on in some form, but this is also a comic book movie, and the modern comic book movie landscape calls for action, something Madame Web can't do if she's confined to chair. So, how do you solve that? Consider her battle with her own granddaughter, the third Spider-Woman. We know that Sony is eager to use its various female Spider-themed characters in future films, so why not introduce a few of them right now and create some kind of battle for spider supremacy in the streets of New York, with Madame Web at the center? De-age the character, give her some fighting skills, and put her in the arena with heroes and villains alike, all of whom could eventually return in other films.
Then again, maybe the movie will be none of that. Maybe they'll decide she's called "Madame Web" because she's really good at the internet. Stranger things have happened.
Sony's Madame Web does not yet have a release date.