The first trailer for the next Spider-Man spin-off movie, Madame Web, has spun its way online – and it looks like another weird and messy entry in Sony's Spider-Man Universe (SSU).
The Spider-Man offshoot arrives in theaters on February 14, 2024, so it's high time Sony Pictures showcased some footage from the Dakota Johnson-starring film. Unfortunately, like many of its SSU contemporaries, Madame Web looks like another bizarre addition to the Spidey's live-action back catalog.
Initially, Madame Web sounded like it could be one of 2024's most important new movies, particularly in the superhero space. In Marvel comics, the clairvoyant mutant – real name Cassandra Webb – oversees the Web of Life and Destiny, a three-dimensional construct in a five-dimensional space that allows characters, Spider-Man-centric or otherwise, to travel across the Marvel multiverse.
Considering the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) in in the midst of its own Multiverse Saga, and with adjacent Spider-Man movies – including Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse – also exploring the multiverse, Madame Web's live-action debut could play its part in setting up big events yet to come in the MCU and SSU.
Unfortunately – and this may seem a tad harsh – Madame Web just doesn't look all that enticing. Like its SSU forebears, including Venom and Morbius, plus fellow 2024 release Kraven the Hunter, it looks and sounds it'll make significant creative deviations from the source material, including Cassandra Webb's superpowered origins story. Indeed, a quick glance at Madame Web's official plot synopsis confirms major changes have been made, and not for the better.
"In a switch from the typical genre, Madame Web tells the standalone origin story of one of Marvel publishing's most enigmatic heroines," the synopsis reads. "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."
In the comics, Webb is born with numerous physical disabilities, including near-total body paralysis and blindness. Based on the movie adaptation's first teaser, she isn't physically impaired in any way – a plot point that's sure to rankle with diehard fans. Further sources of frustration are likely to come in the form of Madame Web's amateurish filmmaking – one thread on Reddit is already full of comments from fans likening it to a production from The CW, Tubi, or the SyFy Channel – and the trailer's bizarre editing.
Spinning out some positives
Still, it's not all bad news. Madame Web appears as though it takes some narrative cues from similar time-hopping-style stories, such as Loki season 2 and the Terminator franchise. It'll also bring some fan-favorite Spider-People into a live-action project for the first time. That includes Julia Carpenter's Spider-Woman, played here by the talented and in-demand Sydney Sweeney (Euphoria, The Handmaid's Tale), as well as Mattie Franklin's Spider-Woman (portrayed by Ghostbusters: Afterlife's Celeste O'Connor) and Anya Corazon/Araña (played by Rosaline's Isabela Merced).
Elsewhere, Tahar Rahim (The Mauritanian) is set to play Ezekiel Sims, a fascinating Spider-Man villain who, in the comics, possesses abilities of a vary similar ilk to the wallcrawler. Think of him as an evil version of Spider-Man – he's giving off T-1000 vibes from The Terminator here – and you'll get the gist.
All four characters have their fair share of fans in the comic book space, so they could help to get butts on seats in theaters early next year. That's if general audiences feel like Madame Web is worth seeing, anyway. And hey, if any of them prove popular enough among cinephiles, I'm sure Sony will *ahem* weave one or more of them their own spin-off movie.
Based on initial reactions to its first trailer, though, it's going to be a struggle to lure people to check it out on the big screen. Our advice? You're probably best waiting for this one to arrive on video-on-demand services or Netflix, where Sony-developed films make their official streaming debuts.
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As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.
An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.
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