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Madame Web: The Worst Superhero Movie Ever?

No movie can ever beat how ridiculous this movie is, and because of that, I loved it!
We all love movies, but how bad can one be before its great?
Owen Lindeburg
We all love movies, but how bad can one be before it’s great?

  If you weren’t one of the few people who went to see the latest Marvel release from Sony, don’t worry, I had the pleasure of watching it not too long ago. Madame Web came out in theaters on February 14th and quickly became known as “the worst superhero movie” and even “one of the worst movies that have ever been made.” It has already surpassed Morbius as the worst-rated Spiderman movie on the Letterbox, and it has earned itself a sad score of 13% on Rotten Tomatoes from critics and a score of 57% from the audience. For me, Madame Web was terrible in a way that actually made it good. So why is it so bad? Is all this hate really deserved? Well, yes, but let’s dive a little deeper.  

         I’ll start with the things that were done well. Some of the special effects were decent in scenes with time traveling and Madame Web’s powers. The scene where Cassie, later known as Madame Web, first gets her powers was really interesting and if you ignore the bad CGI, it looked incredible. A lot of the scenes where her time-traveling abilities were being used, especially near the beginning of the movie, were visually appealing, but it just goes down from there. My favorite part about this movie is that it is actually so bad that it is hilarious, which makes it so much fun to watch.

         But now it’s time to talk about why this movie is considered one of the worst movies of all time, starting with the plot. The movie follows Cassie Webb, played by Dakota Johnson, who is an orphan who works as a paramedic for the city’s fire department. One day she has a near-death experience that unlocks the powers she got from getting bit by a spider as a baby and she starts seeing quick glimpses into the future. Her ability allows her to save three young girls; Julia, Mattie, and Anya, from the movie’s main villain, Ezekiel. Ezekiel caught one of the same species of spiders to get superpowers. So, now he is trying to kill the girls because in the future he sees them kill him; I know this sounds ridiculous, but that’s because it is. At this point the girls must work together to fight Ezekial and survive. Overall, the story makes absolutely no sense. I’m not sure if the movie even knew what its own plot was about. It is also usually standard in superhero origin stories that the characters get their powers and a basic version of their suit by at least halfway through the movie. Even though Cassie does get her abilities early in the movie and it is technically about her, they have been promoting this “gang of spider women” a lot. However none of the three “spider women” get their suits or powers throughout the entire film, and Cassie doesn’t even get her suit at all. The clips that were used in the trailers of the girls’ suits and powers are from a dream sequence and a flash forward. Because no one has powers they can use to fight with, there are no actual fight scenes, the only way they’re able to fight off Ezekiel is by hitting him with stolen cars and a “Pepsi Cola” sign. How are you going to make a superhero movie without any superheroes?

         The characters in this movie are never developed or even given decent personalities or backstories. Julia Carpenter is an innocent, more reserved, and sweet girl (the movie makes their personalities unclear, so this may not be accurate). It seems like she is supposed to be a teenager, so I’m not sure why they cast Sydney Sweeney (as much as I love her) for the role other than to try and attract more viewers. The only thing we know about her background is from when she out of nowhere says that her mom is in the psychiatric hospital. Mattie Franklin is a rebellious teen with a skateboard. All we know about her background is that her wealthy parents have neglected her. Anya Corazon is an intelligent girl whose knowledge of science is helpful, like twice. We learn that her father was deported, and she lost her mom at a young age. The only “development” any of these girls get is that at the beginning of the movie, they don’t like each other and at the end, they bond and become best friends. We don’t know how they become superheroes, how they get their powers, or what their superhero names even are. All we know is that eventually, they become superheroes.

         One of the worst parts of the movie has to be the script and the directing. I don’t think any of the poor line delivery was the actress’ fault; if you’ve seen any other films the actresses like Dakota Johnson or Sydney Sweeney have been in then you know they’re good actors. But for some reason, many of the characters seem to lack emotion. For example in scenes where they’re getting chased and should be panicked, they still have an almost monotone voice. My friend, who I watched the movie with, described the script as sounding like “the improv games me and my friends played when we were kids.” It honestly sounded like they took every generic movie line and just put it into one movie giving us some of the most stupid and hilarious dialogue I have ever seen in a movie. One of the funniest parts of this movie for me was Dakota Johnson speaking like she was in a perfume or AMC Theaters ad during the last half of the movie. The voice she puts on makes me laugh every time I think about it. It is also obvious that this movie used a lot of poor ADR, or automated dialogue replacement. ADR is usually used in movies to improve the sound quality of the dialogue in a scene by having the actor lip-sync over it. In this movie, it’s extremely poorly done. Their voices don’t match the scene’s atmosphere making it so obvious that it’s been dubbed over. There were also some scenes where the words didn’t even match their lips; this is seen in almost every scene where the villain speaks. At one point, Cassie’s mouth is completely closed for a moment while we can still hear her speak. I’m not sure how somebody looked at scenes like that and said, “Yeah that looks great! Let’s keep that in!”  

         We do know a little about why this movie turned out the way it did. Dakota Johnson, in her recent press tour for the film, revealed that a lot of changes were made to the film’s script after she had already signed on. She stated in an interview with The Wrap, “There were drastic changes. And I can’t even tell you what they were.” Throughout Dakota Johnson’s press tour, she seemed extremely unhappy with the movie, and you could tell she did not believe it would be any good. It is possible that many of the changes that were made weakened the movie and Dakota Johnson was unhappy that she did not get what she signed on for. One change that we do know about is that the movie was originally going to be a prequel to the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movies and the end credit scene was supposed to reveal that the baby in the movie was named Peter Parker, but it ended up being removed. So, who knows what else got removed? The movie had an interesting concept, and maybe at one point Madame Web was an amazing movie.   

So, if you’re looking for an action-packed, well-written, intriguing superhero film to watch, I don’t recommend this one. But if you’re like me and love watching bad movies, I highly recommend checking out Madame Web. This movie is such a fun watch, and even though it was terrible, I absolutely loved it. There’s no date for when Madame Web will be coming to streaming platforms, but it will most likely appear on platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, and Vudu within the next few months. 

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About the Contributors
Hayden George
Hayden George, SPHS News Editor
Owen Lindeburg, Staff Writer

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