Sony’s Spider-Verse is continuing to raise eyebrows as they press on full steam ahead with films centering around key figures from the Spider-Man mythos, including the all-seeing Madame Web, which has received its first trailer. And it’s… quite something.
Take a look:
Dakota Johnson stars as Madame Web, a character with visions of the future who appears to be the center of a conflict that arises with Ezekiel Sims, a lesser-known villain from the Spider-Man mythos who has taken a deadly interest in the film’s four leading spider people.
In the trailer, we witness the simultaneous emergence of four Spider-Women, including Johnson’s Madame Web, Sydney Sweeney’s Julia Carpenter, Isabela Merced’s Anya Corazon, and Celeste O’Connor as Mattie Franklin, each one with various spider abilities as their own unique version of Spider-Woman. The four of them face off against Reverse Spidey as he tries to kill them in order to change his own future. Or something.
While Sony and Disney x Marvel Studios have a deal to share Spider-Man with Tom Holland occupying the role, it isn’t entirely clear what the end goal is her for Sony Pictures and their odd cinematic universe. What is clear, is that they don’t want to explore Spider-Man as a lead, which they definitely could do with a new actor or even see the return of a previous one in Garfield or Maguire. In any case, Sony really wants this universe to flourish in an already fatigued superhero film market- something that will no doubt be one of a few factors to hurt the film.
Given the current state of “superhero fatigue” (we think it is less fatigue of the genre and more fatigue of executives f*cking up the storylines, cutting corners, and trying to milk the brands to make a buck rather than allow creatives to deliver compelling and moving stories), Madame Web has a lot going against it. First of all, it’s a Spider film without Spider-Man, which wouldn’t be so bad if Sony took the characters more seriously by making the trailer look less like a cheap CW series and more like a major blockbuster contender.
Another big problem with this film is that it’s not under the MCU brand, something that is surely going to hurt more than help as Sony’s Cinematic Spider-Verse hasn’t really done all that well. Their flagship film franchise with Tom Hardy’s Venom saw significant box office success with over $800m against a $100m budget while the sequel, Let There Be Carnage, saw a $300m drop at the box office having only made roughly $500m against a similar budget. Then, of course, there is Morbius which… we don’t need to talk about. Sony just… can’t seem to un-Sony themselves, if that makes sense.
It is unclear what Sony is actually doing here, quite frankly, and whether or not they want to invite their own separate Spider-Man to join their spider villains and characters in their own little cinematic sandbox, as it were. Still, cramming four Spider-Women into a single film to face off against Reverse Spider-Man (I used that joke once already but I am sticking by it) seems like an odd choice and reeks of desperation.
Maybe it is that director S. J. Clarkson has only done one other movie before this (a made for tv film), or perhaps it is that producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Transformers movies, G.I. Joe movies) doesn’t quite seem to grasp the concept here, that things feel more ‘ArrowVerse’ and less ‘No Way Home’ to us. Or maybe it is just that Sony has a very specific formula they want to follow and they refuse to veer off or away from that path. Perhaps they will surprise us with the Aaron Taylor-Johnson-led Kraven the Hunter film and maybe Madame Web will be a colossal hit. Yeah, best not to get your hopes up.