Madame Web review: Dakota Fanning’s Marvel entry gets tangled in own web

Sometimes, it’s best for some storylines to be left alone. Madame Web‘s is one like that. Sony studios, it seems, is trying hard to get more from the fringe characters around Spiderman. They are trying to catapult a hero from the margins of the Marvel universe à la Venom and Morbius.

The movie, which stars Dakota Fanning in the lead role, and Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced and Celeste O’Connor, is slower than most origin stories. Even as the first half ends, Fanning hasn’t manifested any powers or moves that could wow the audience. Fanning’s lack of emoting doesn’t help much either. The other three actors seem more promising when it comes to emoting. The villain, portrayed by Tahar Rahim, too, lacked the pizzazz Marvel fans are used to.

The movie begins with Cassie (Fanning), a paramedic discovering that she has the ability to see the future. It then moves on to how her fate might be connected to the three teens, Julia, Anya and Mattie—played by Sweeney, Merced and O’Connor respectively. Despite a mystery ‘ceiling guy’, the plot doesn’t thicken, nor does it keep you hooked.

The movie certainly won’t meet the expectations of Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) fans, who are used to exemplary fight scenes and stunning reveals. Perhaps, a non-linear narration could have worked better for the movie; it could have kept the audience guessing. The direction by S.J. Clarkson doesn’t live up to the expectations, considering she’s directed series like Jessica Jones, Marvel’s The Defenders and the Emmy-winning Succession.

The camera work by Mauro Fiore wasn’t shoddy, but there seemed to be no need for the upside down and titled shots, especially not since Fanning wasn’t swinging tower-to-tower like Peter Parker. And even while the narration seemed slow, it seemed as if the makers tried to squeeze in a lot of events in the film introducing Madame Web—Fanning’s trip to Peru, for instance.

With a mix of folklore (Las Aranas or mythical spider people) and urban heroes, and a villain that fits at least one trope, the movie could have been amazing. However, with pre-dated Spiderman outfits and a 30-something chaperoning three teens across town, it became a version of ‘what if Disney made a Marvel movie’.

There’s not much humour in the film either.

The costume department, however, deserves a pat on its back, for exacting early 2000s fashion like racer backs, cropped sweatshirts and ripped jeans.

The film can be avoided though; it was heavily disappointing for the MCU fan in me.

Film: Madame Web

Director: S.J. Clarkson

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, Celeste O’Connor and others

Rating: 2/5