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Everything we know about Spider-Man spin-off Madame Web

Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney will star in the superhero blockbuster

Madame Web (Sony Pictures UK)
Dakota Johnson leads the way in Madame Web. (Sony Pictures UK)

From Tom Holland’s MCU to an animated Spider-verse trilogy, cinema appears to have a bit of a spider infestation and with the upcoming release of Madame Web, it’s only going to level up.

As the fourth film in Sony’s own spin-off Spider-Man universe, Madame Web has been in development since 2019 and takes its cues from the popular comic book character of the same name that was first introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man number 210 back in 1980.

Created by writer Denny O’Neil and illustrator John Romita Jr, the film’s titular character AKA Cassandra Webb is usually depicted as an older, clairvoyant hero with the ability to see all areas of the Spider World.

Read more: Every upcoming Spider-Man film

Considering the up-and-down track record of Sony’s extended Spider-Man universe, there’s plenty riding on this new instalment. Read on for everything we know so far about Madame Web, including its release date, plot details, cast and more…

When is Madame Web released?

Madame Web is out in UK cinemas now and is directed by filmmaker S.J. Clarkson.

It will be followed by fellow Sony Spidey spin-offs later in the year including Kraven The Hunter on 30 August and the as-yet-untitled Venom 3 on 8 November.

What are the reviews like?

Madame Web (Sony Pictures UK)
Madame Web (Sony Pictures UK)

It’s never a great sign when a line from your movie becomes a viral internet meme before it’s even had a chance to reach cinemas - and even worse when said line doesn’t even end up in the finished product.

This was the case for Madame Web following the debut of its first full trailer, with the incident seemingly setting the shaky tone for Sony’s latest Marvel spin-off feature.

Following Madame Web’s official premiere, early reviews started to crawl online - and none of them were very positive about Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney’s Spidey-story. Variety certainly didn’t pull its punches, labelling the film a “hollow Sony-made Spider-Man spinoff with none of the charm you expect from even the most basic superhero movie.”

The Guardian’s write-up called it “a 110-minute head-scratcher” that left viewers with “a baffling string of question marks that remain unanswered.” Elsewhere, The Hollywood Reporter said that Madame Web was a movie that “fails to deliver at every turn.” Ouch.

Read our full review round-up below.

Variety: Any Way You Spin It, Dakota Johnson’s Marvel Entry Feels Superfluous (5-min read)

The Guardian: Marvel’s junky spin-off is a tangled mess (5-min read)

The Hollywood Reporter: Dakota Johnson Leads a Depressingly Inert Spider-Man Spinoff (4-min read)

The Wrap: Bland Superhero Entry Can’t Overcome Stilted Dialogue, Threadbare Plot (4-min read)

What is the plot for Madame Web?

Madame Web (Sony Pictures UK)
Dakota Johnson plays Cassandra Web. (Sony Pictures UK)

Madame Web marks a change for Sony in that it will focus on a hero instead of the anti-hero villains it has favoured in films like Venom, Morbius and Kraven The Hunter.

Within comic lore, Madame Web is technically considered a mutant with the ability to see all corners of the extended Spider universe. She’s usually depicted as an older woman who suffers from a neuromuscular disease which is combatted by a large spiderweb that acts as a life support system.

Clarkson’s Madame Web offers the character a new origin story, which is hinted at in the film’s official synopsis: “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.”

Madame Web (Sony Pictures UK)
Cassandra gains clairvoyant abilities following a freak accident. (Sony Pictures UK)

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Johnson shed some new light on her character, saying: “When you first meet Cassie, she is a paramedic in New York City, and doesn’t really let people in... And then, things take quite a turn.”

After a freak accident, Cassandra gains some new super powers: “When Cassie begins to experience her clairvoyance, she thinks she’s losing her mind,” adds Johnson.

Speaking to ComicBook.com, the film’s producer, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, explained that audiences “meet her before she’s actually the person that you know in the comic book and you come to understand how she becomes that person. So, I think that’ll be a really fresh new terrain for the fans.”

With regards to the film’s tone, Bonaventura told Collider that fans can expect more of a “thriller” than your average superhero movie.

“It’s not an action piece, because, in a way, [Madame Web’s] skill set is not conducive to an action piece,” he told the outlet before highlighting that the secrecy surrounding its plot is held for good reason “because it’s a character that people don’t know a lot about… It’s fun to keep it a mystery for a while.”

Who stars in the cast of Madame Web?

Madame Web (Sony Pictures)
Sydney Sweeney will play a Spider-Woman in Madame Web. (Sony Pictures)

As detailed above, Fifty Shades of Grey star Johnson plays the movie’s titular role opposite Sydney Sweeney as Julia Cornwall, the character who eventually becomes Spider-Woman.

During an interview with Variety, The White Lotus star revealed how she prepared or the role by saying “I went straight to the comic store, and I bought every comic that mentioned my character.”

Sweeney remained suspiciously tight-lipped when it came to whether or not her Spider-Woman will one day interact with the wider MCU before offering a small nugget of information about the movie’s tone. “I think it’s different from what people expect a superhero movie to be,” she teased.

Madame Web (Sony Pictures)
Celeste O'Connor will also play a version of Spider-Woman in Madame Web. (Sony Pictures)

Johnson and Sweeney are joined by Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire star Celeste O’Connor as one of the three women pivotal to Cassandra’s story. She plays Mattie Franklin, another iteration of Spider-Woman. Rounding out the Spider trio is Isabela Merced who plays Anya Corazon, yet another Spider-Woman who becomes known as Araña.

Madame Web (Sony Pictures)
Isabela Merced plays a third iteration of Spider-Woman in Madame Web. (Sony Pictures)

Discussing how each character fits into the movie’s overall story, Sweeney told Entertainment Tonight: “In this one moment, Cassie connects all three of their lives,” with Merced adding: “Because she’s able to see [the future], she’s able to prevent it. It’s really interesting how it plays on fate, or destiny.”

Read more: The actors with the most MCU appearances

Elsewhere, A Prophet actor Tahar Rahim appears as the film’s big-bad Ezekiel Sims a fellow explorer and spider researcher who was with Cassandra’s mother when she died in the rainforest. He wears an enhanced spider suit and is after the Spider-trio.

Madame Web (Sony Pictures)
Tahar Rahim plays big bad Ezekiel Sims. (Sony Pictures)

American Horror Story star Emma Roberts also appears, but if her recent interviews are to be believed, she isn’t playing a superhero character. “What I can tell you is I’m not a superhero,” Roberts cryptically told the hosts of the Shut Up Evan podcast. “Some people may think she's a superhero but not... like I don’t have supernatural powers. So I can tell you that.”

Other cast members include Adam Scott, Mike Epps and Zosia Mamet.

“We had so much fun together,” Sweeney told Total Film about the film’s shoot. “I’m really excited that it’s just gonna be a powerhouse of badass females for the world to see.

Madame Web is directed by British filmmaker S. J. Clarkson, who has primarily worked in television, helming episodes of Succession, Dexter, Ugly Betty and Jessica Jones.

Is there a trailer for Madame Web?

The first trailer for Madame Web was released in November 2023 which gave viewers their first glimpse at Johnson’s first foray into the superhero world.

It set the stage for the story but also gave a glimpse at how Johnson’s character gets to have her powers and who she will be facing in Tahar Rahim’s villain.

Watch the first trailer below:


Madame Web is out in UK cinemas now