Not too long ago, a comic book movie associated with Marvel was about the closest thing to a sure bet in Hollywood. But as The Marvels‘ lackluster $48.5 million opening weekend proved, not even Marvel Studios is immune from superhero fatigue in a year with comic book movie flops that included The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Shazam! Fury of the Gods. Suddenly, being the next Marvel-related movie on deck isn’t necessarily as enviable as it used to be. Sony’s Madame Web movie is a continuation of the non-Spider-Man films using characters from Peter Parker’s supporting cast as movie stars. In this case, the leading character, Madame Web, is bringing together a team of three different Spider-Women: Spider-Girl, Araña, and of course, Spider-Woman.
It’s hard not to see the parallels between The Marvels and Madame Web, as both films feature nearly all female leads. The key difference between them is that The Marvels had established heroines who have headlined their own comics or even their own movies and Disney+ shows. Madame Web has never starred in a comic, and her Marvel counterpart is an elderly woman who has only ever been a supporting player in Spider-Man’s world. The three Spider-Women in the cast have had short-lived comics, but never anything with long-term success. Given that pedigree, it would be very surprising if Madame Web does much better than The Marvels.
Yes! And it reveals just how far away from the source material it’s willing to go.
On the big screen, Cassandra Webb is now a much younger woman who is working as a paramedic when she survives a near-death experience that gives her glimpses of the future. Cassandra then takes it upon herself to warn the three Spider-Women that they are being targeted by Ezekiel Sims, a man who is wearing a very Spider-Man-like costume. In the comics, Ezekiel was an occasional mentor and ally to Peter Parker, and he certainly wasn’t stealing Spider-Man’s look. That was a choice that was probably made in the hope of selling some movie tickets.
Dakota Johnson headlines the cast of Madame Web as Cassandra Webb/Madame Web, with Sydney Sweeney as Julia Carpenter/Spider-Woman, Celeste O’Connor as Mattie Franklin/Spider-Girl, Isabela Merced as Anya Corazon/Araña, and Tahar Rahim as Ezekiel Sims. Mike Epps, Emma Roberts, Adam Scott, and Zosia Mamet will also appear in the film.
Madame Web will swing into theaters on February 14, 2024. Whether it will do better than Sony’s last Spider-Man adjacent film, Morbius, remains to be seen.
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