In the wake of The Marvels’ struggling box office, you’ve probably heard a lot about how the MCU is going to have a quieter year in 2024. But while the mainline MCU takes a little bit of a breather, there’s no rest for SPUMC – you know, the Sony Pictures Universe of Marvel Characters – the Spidey-less (and yet oddly Spidey-centric) universe comprising the Venom movies, Morbius, and the upcoming Kraven The Hunter. As well as Kraven’s cinematic debut, Sony is readying a whole new Spider-adjacent comic book adaptation – this time, make way for Madame Web. This one stars Dakota Johnson in the title role, exploring how Cassandra Webb (often depicted as an old woman in the comics and cartoons) gained clairvoyant powers, and came into contact with a whole network of young Spider-Women. Watch the trailer here:
That’s a long trailer, stuffed to the gills (wait, spiders don’t have gills – never mind) with plot, and yet you may still be confused. So, Dakota Johnson’s Cassandra Webb is a New York paramedic who gains clairvoyant abilities after a near-death experience – powers which she uses to try and carve a brighter future. But that’s tricky when Tahar Rahim’s Ezekiel Sims – who also knew Cassandra’s spider-researching mother (?) – is out causing carnage in a spooky Spider-Man-esque suit. And somewhere along the way, Cassandra seeks out a group of young women who are all, variably Spider-Woman in some capacity – Sydney Sweeney’s Julia Carpenter, Celeste O’Connor’s Mattie Franklin, and Isabela Merced’s Anya Corazon. It’s a whole Spidey jamboree in here.
Notably, the synopsis pitches Madame Web – directed by SJ Clarkson, who also writes alongside Claire Parker – as being in a Multiversal reality separate to the Sacred Timeline of the MCU, and promises less of a typical superhero movie than a ‘suspense-driven thriller’. Here’s the blurb in full: ““Meanwhile, in another universe…” In a switch from the typical genre, Madame Web tells the standalone origin story of one of Marvel publishing's most enigmatic heroines. 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.”
How does any of this work? Will the film manage to successfully establish multiple new Spider-people? Can it really be as complicated as it sounds? We’ll find out in 2024, when Madame Web hits cinemas on 16 February.