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The official student news site of Norristown Area High School

The Wingspan

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‘Madame Web’ Spins Fresh Life into Superhero Genre

Movie Review
Madame Web Spins Fresh Life into Superhero Genre
Sony Pictures

The hit of confusion and later curiosity upon first hearing that Madame Web, who is never a main character but instead just assists Spider-Man by predicting and preventing horrible futures, was actually getting her own movie was enough to get me excited for something new in a tired genre. As of late, I feel that superhero movies don’t take themselves seriously anymore and are more akin to comedies. But after watching “Madame Web” I can say with confidence that, while it may lack the allure of the original “Spider-man,” the latest superhero movie takes itself seriously (at least more seriously than “Thor: Love and Thunder”) and showed me that the genre isn’t dead.

Unlike those in most recent Marvel movies, the characters in “Madame Web” act how any person would act when getting attacked by a man with superhuman strength who can also climb on walls. Sure, the movie still makes a couple of jokes here and there, “Madame Web” doesn’t bash one’s skull with its jokes and hoping one lands with the audience. 

With this being the first-ever appearance of Madame Web on the big screen, I was worried how Sony might make it feel like a Madame Web movie without the crutch that is Spider-Man. Director S.J. Clarkson definitely knew what to do. The movie doesn’t feel like a flurry of thoughts being thrown into a pot and viciously stirred to make a hideous stew. The audience is given enough time to process a scene and not rushed onto the next. This led to me not having many times where I scratched my head and wondered how all of this happened.

This doesn’t mean that the movie held my hand and patiently explained every bit and detail about what had just occurred much like a parent would. Having more breaks from the action scenes that superhero movies love to throw at the audience gives more time to get to know the characters and feel more invested as to what happens to them. 

In the movie, we follow Cassandra “Cassie” Web, played by Dakota Johnson, as she figures out that she has visions of the future, and that she can change the outcome of the future. After getting a vision that three teenage girls will die by a mysterious man who can climb on walls and has super strength, she decides to help them. I enjoyed getting to know some of the family issues that the three girls had before even truly meeting Cassandra. I also enjoyed the nods to characters that many Marvel fans would know if they read or have watched any Spider-Man-related media.

The acting done on the movie as a whole was what I would expect from any film that is made by Sony Pictures. The teenagers act their age when told to wait in the middle of a forest without food. They eventually decide to quickly grab a bite from a nearby restaurant and get caught by Cassandra, and get scolded for a short bit until the villain shows up at that very same restaurant. The whole scene shows a depiction of a disappointed parent watching in silence until their child notices and stops doing whatever it was they were doing which is very relatable to many people at some point in their lives. Johnson as Madame Web does a great job giving the character her own personality throughout the whole movie.

Sydney Sweeney playing  Julia Carpenter (who takes over the mantle of Madame Web in the comics) provides even more instances of a character that can be relatable. Her whole story in the movie is that while living with her father’s new family, she feels alienated, and as we are shown, her father doesn’t even care about her being missing for weeks. This is just one of the many relatable circumstances that the girls in the movie are facing. 

Not every part of this movie shines, however. The visuals for the movie are just okay. I didn’t stare in awe like I had once done when I first saw the “Spider-Man 3” movie when Peter first had the black suit. The music in the movie didn’t stick to my brain like the music in all three Spider-man movies did. I feel as if the movie didn’t have anything that would have made even kid-me fall in love with the movie. Although I do have to give credit to the movie since it doesn’t overuse any visual effects, which makes every time they use special effects feel truly important. 

Now I know that “Madame Web” isn’t a new “Spider-man” movie, and it certainly didn’t try to be one ( this movie is called “Madame Web” for a reason after all ). However, thinking back on everything that this movie did right, I can only hope that other future superhero movies take the good qualities of “Madame Web” and expand on them to make the viewer feel engaged again. We don’t need movies that only focus on the superheroes beating the villain with epic fights. What we need is a bigger dive into the hero as a person, and make them more grounded to life. This aspect of superhero movies is certainly what made me a fan of all Spider-Man movies. I hope Madame Web can serve the purpose of paving a path to better movies in the future from Sony Pictures, and superhero movies as a whole.

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