I don’t understand Sony Pictures’ strategy with its Marvel movies. I understand that it’s a juicy license, even as the superhero genre appears to be experiencing its lowest popularity in years. But it is difficult for me to understand why people continue to support a cinematic micro-universe Spider-Man, sin Spider-Man. A formula, which, as we already saw in Morbius, does not quite work for them. Something that is repeated with Madame Web which starts with the disadvantage of having a little-known protagonist and with some peculiarities made in Marvel What do they do complicated to put on screen. Despite this, the director S.J. Clarkson juggles to attract the public’s attention, although it does not seem that he is very clear about what audience he is talking about.
Madame Web takes us to a new corner of the Marvel Comics Spider-Man Universe. Con Dakota Johnson in the main role, this film presents viewers with new elements of spider mythology, sharing the spotlight between Madame Web and other young fundamental characters from Marvel comics that they share with Peter Parker secret identities and the penchant for climbing walls to help citizens in need.
Although the film greatly adapts key elements of the comics, sacrifices its rigor with the original material to try to integrate into that series of films headed by Venom that explore the world of Spider-Man without resorting to the emblematic Marvel character and that has already suffered a major setback with Morbius a few years ago.
Madame Web is a superhero movie without superheroes. The first thing I can say about Madame Web is that it is a film that the Marvel Cinematic Universe catches very far. Both in tone and form. The classic plot of the creation of the hero and the birth of his call of duty and responsibility is tangled in an overexplanatory start in which a lot of emphasis is placed on the nature of the character’s powers. The problem is that this spirit of “movement is demonstrated by walking” that other films that draw on Marvel licenses display here takes a long time to start. And when he does it, it’s not very interesting either. Because after half the footage of Madame Web has passed, there is still no news of that spectacular superheroic presence expected in a Marvel film.
And it is not there, nor is it expected. Because the “pajama” content of the film, with brilliantly colored uniforms and spectacular action is limited to a few sequences. If as a Marvel fan you hope to see the young and different versions of Spider-Woman, Julia Cornwall, Anya Corazon and Mattie Franklin, in action, I can tell you that you’re going to be disappointed because their presence marvelita uniformed and superheroic are reduced to mere seconds on screen, and you have surely already seen all of their footage in the film’s promotional previews.
Not even the presence of such an interesting character from spider mythology as Ezekiel Sims is recognizable in this anecdotal villain version of operetta interpreted by Tahar Rahim which enters and leaves the shot when the action scene at hand requires it, without leaving the slightest narrative trace. It is worth highlighting the inclusion of Adam Scott in what is surely the best performance in the film, as a young Ben Parker in a familiar nod to Peter Parker.
As I told you, the film gets tangled up in insistently trying to describe the protagonist’s abilities, and in creating a feeling of camaraderie between the protagonists that does not quite materialize. Perhaps a younger sector of the audience may be interested in the staging of the main characters, or simply watching these girls dance on the table of a roadside restaurant to the rhythm of Britney Spears, but in general it offers few points in which the viewer can empathize really with them. It’s a shame, because this main cast could work if it weren’t limited by a few simple and cartoonish characters: the young rebel with problems, the young conformist with problems and the young nerd, guess what, with problems.
Without giving you details of the story to avoid spoilers, the plot still holds some surprises, which will surely be especially appreciated by those who already enjoy these stories in the comics, but in general, and without going into details, the scenes of insipid dialogues of chaining with punctual somewhat clumsy action sequences with characters that appear and disappear from the plot in the purest “my planet of need” style, without even saying goodbye, and scenes fitted together to try to explain other scenes and moments that lead to absolute blushing, like finding a specific tree in the middle of the Peruvian jungle, not using some type of power or precognitive ability, but rather a photo and a map. A map on a considerable scale, by the way.
The seams can be seen in the film from scene to scene, giving the feeling that you are watching a montage of the film that belong to at least two different versions of Madame Web. Everything together results in a clumsy rhythm and, the worst thing that can be said about a film of this type, boring. Even the big climax of the film, which is where one expects this type of cinema to stand out and be unforgettable, seems something improvised in the narrative and the technical in one of those battles in what is clearly a set where things explode. Not even the show claim is applicable here, with some poor action scenes and second division special effects that pale compared to other similar releases. I couldn’t stop thinking throughout the screening about those first nineties attempts to bring this type of characters to the big screen, some more fortunate than others, it’s true, but at least films like the Ben Affleck’s Daredevil were sincere: you were going to see a Daredevil movie and Daredevil came out.
The worst taste in my mouth has left me with the feeling of having been deceived, because considering the promotion that is being done for the film, I was hoping to see these young characters perform their acrobatics and superheroic things on screen, with their colorful costumes and their homages to comics. Do you remember that recent promotional content in which Sydney Sweeney comments on her involvement with the character of Spider-Woman and the importance of the costume and the emblematic head-down poses from comics? Well, if you blink you’ll miss it. All that superheroic language expected from a film like Madame seems to have been left in the drawer awaiting a possible, although perhaps unlikely, sequel by Madame Web, which only serves as a presentation of the characters, without worrying too much about explaining or justifying anything.
When talking about viewer exhaustion in relation to superhero movies one understands that a majority of the public does not end up vibrating with recent releases of the genre as they did with releases from a few years ago. And it is not necessary to go very far back in time or point out very significant events in these cinematographic universes. Without going any further, Sony Pictures itself left us with a gem of animated cinema which also results a magnificent superhero movie. Maybe it was a matter of wanting to make a superhero movie.