Madame Web Critical Backlash: Gone are the days when the Marvel Cinematic Universe was considered to be one of the best superhero franchises. Its latest releases have highly disappointed the audience. The recent fate of  MCU films has been terrible – both critically and commercially. The latest release in the franchise, “The Marvels” (2023), was also a big disappointment as it became the lowest-grossing MCU film, earning just $206 million.

Now, the new MCU film hailing from Sony Pictures’ Universe, “Madame Web,” marked its release on February 14, 2024. However, there are indications that the film might open even lower than “The Marvels.” Starring “Fifty Shades of Grey” fame Dakota Johnson in the lead role, “Madame Web” had its world premiere on February 12th. The film garnered reviews from several esteemed publishing houses. Unfortunately, the reviews were not positive.

Madame Web Receives Negative Response

According to Rolling Stone: “Madame Web isn’t as bad as its somewhat botched promotional campaign might suggest. It is, in fact, way worse. A genuine Chernobyl-level disaster that seems to get exponentially more radioactive as it goes along, this detour to one of the dustier corners of Marvel’s content farm is a dead-end from start to finish. It is the Cats: The Movie of superhero movies. Not a single decision seems of sound mind. Not a single performance feels in sync with the material, and not a single line reading feels as if it hasn’t somehow been magically auto-tuned to subtract emotion and/or inflection. The sole amazing factor of this Spider-spinoff is that someone, somewhere, signed off on actually releasing it … a Showgirls of comic-book cinema.”

The Hollywood Reporter: “It is an airless and stilted endeavor driven by a mechanical screenplay … Its lack of imagination would be astounding if it wasn’t so expected … The film operates on a need-to-know basis, forcing people to explain themselves through inelegantly breathless exposition.”

The Daily Beast: “… a torturous saga that haplessly spins about in circles trying to fashion a competent tone or coherent action sequence. No matter its heroine’s clairvoyant super-powers, it’s a debacle incapable of seeing — and thus avoiding — its every subsequent misstep … director S.J. Clarkson stages it with all the grace of a runaway train, her snap zooms, whiplash cinematography, canted angles, and overly theatrical lighting turning this prologue embarrassingly comical … full of bad dialogue delivered badly by talented men and women stuck with crummy material and equally lousy stewardship … Sony’s Spider-Man Universe is now completely lifeless — and in no need of resuscitation.”

Collider: “Madame Web’s writing strains to emulate teenage girls cracking wise with each other or any other kind of positive human emotion. This is a screenplay that speaks in backstory and surface-level comic book references (like Sims always being barefoot). It doesn’t understand how people actually interact with one another … Beyond even those staggeringly amateurish filmmaking flourishes, Madame Web has none of the laughs or thrills that general audiences come to superhero movies for. Much like Morbius from two years ago, it’s a pale imitation of comic book motion pictures from the past.”

UPI: “A new low for superhero debacles … At least Catwoman and Batman & Robin believed in what they were doing. They were wrong, but Madame Web just feels like a cynical copy of the bare minimum to qualify as a comic book movie.”

IndieWire: “From its lack of stakes to its absence of style, and from its laughable CGI to its palpable discomfort with the rhythms and tropes of its genre, Madame Web is a superhero movie that feels like it was made by and for people who have never seen a modern superhero movie … Johnson has a rare gift for weaponizing social discomfort into sandpaper-dry comedy, and Madame Web threatens to become a real movie whenever it allows its star to revel in the fact that she doesn’t really want to be in it … The characters just stand around and trade perfunctory dialogue in bland locations — sometimes while watching much better movies than the one they’re trapped in.”


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IGN: “Madame Web tries to connect many plots and people together to a confusing yet ultimately bland result. It tries to balance the comedic tone of a modern superhero movie with what could be a more interesting psychological thriller if it invested more time in developing its hero and villain rather than spreading itself thin trying to connect all these new versions of characters together. It fails as a one-off and a franchise starter, not telling a fulfilling origin story for Cassie nor giving a compelling argument for the future Spider-Women. The weak dialogue unfortunately stands out, but the few action set pieces harken to the older Spider-Man movies of the early 2000s.”

Slashfilm: “I hesitate to describe it as a superhero film. It’s more like a pre-origin story, a tale of who various Spider-Women were before they got their powers. Audiences are treated to several flashes-forward to the time when they’ll be in costume, but Madame Web isn’t about how they got their powers or stitched together their outfits. It’s merely about the assurance that they will indeed be heroes someday … This may be one of the final films of the superhero renaissance. Enjoy it before it topples over entirely.”

USA Today: “Worst superhero movie since Morbius.”

Directed by S.J. Clarkson, Madame Web revolves around Cassandra “Cassie” Webb (played by Johnson), who is forced to confront her past while trying to survive with three young women with powerful futures who are being hunted by a deadly adversary.

The Positives of the New Marvel Film

Although the reviews received by the film so far depict it in a bad light, there is still a ray of hope. According to the critical reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, certain positive elements in the film are worth highlighting.

A critic named Hannah Rose from CBR writes, “Madame Web is a tale that stands on its own. No previous plotlines, pre-existing continuities, and introductions are needed… Those unaware of Madame Web or her Spider-Women in the comics can still comfortably enjoy this cinematic ride.”

Jamie Broadnax from Black Girl Nerds praises the action sequence of the film by writing, “Madame Web is suspenseful and action-packed… It’s truly a fun ride.”

Rose also reflected on the script of the film and claimed, “Madame Web is a strong, cohesive narrative. Themes, symbols, motifs, and plot threads are examined, picked up, and consistently woven throughout the film, creating a completed web rather than a tangled kudzu with hanging loose threads.”

If you are a hardcore Marvel fan and Dakota Johnson is your crush, the film awaits you in the theatres.

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