It’s a tough time to be a comic book fan right now. After nearly 15 years of dominating pop culture, the genre finally hit a wall in 2023, with the once-mighty MCU stumbling with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and then crashing into heartless, incapable failure Marvels. The terrible reception of the latter was nothing compared to the unmitigated disaster that was the DC film, with Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Flash, Blue BeetleAND Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom each provides increasingly sinister entries into a universe that had already been thrown out by its corporate owners.
It wasn’t all bad, though, thanks to the franchise’s surprisingly touching send-off Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and the spectacular animated sequel Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. But cinematic superheroes weren’t as untouchable as years past, and everyone—fans, critics, actors, even studio executives—seemed to need a break from them.
However, there’s still money to be made with comic book movies, and while 2024 won’t have as many releases as 2023, there’s still the usual Marvel sequel (Deadpool 3), Sony Quick Checkout (Requests), and DC film needlessly dark (Joker: Folie à Deux) on schedule. All of these movies have varying chances of success, but there’s one movie around the corner that’s sure to flop: Sony Mrs. Webb. Why? Here are five reasons why this almost Spider-Man spinoff will be the ultimate comic book disaster.
Dakota Johnson can’t carry a movie
Sorry, internet: Dakota Johnson just isn’t the star you think she is. The Queen of Memes gives a great interview and she will always be famous for taking down Ellen DeGeneres on the latter’s show in 2019, but that doesn’t mean she can carry a movie. No one with a straight face can argue that the Fifty Shades movies are good, even campy, and its latest star returns to High Note AND obedience they weren’t exactly, pardon the pun, convincing.
Of course, she has given some great performances over the years in movies like A bigger splash, Bad times at the El RoyaleAND The Lost Girl, but she didn’t have to keep those movies. IN Mrs. Webb, she is front and center as the title character, and should be charismatic and interesting enough to engage the audience for two hours. After watching the first trailer of the movie, she can’t even hold her attention for 3 minutes, let alone 120. There are some actors, like Andrew Garfield and Tom Holland, who were born to play this kind of role; Johnson just isn’t, and while that’s fine for the actress, it spells trouble for her Mrs. Webb.
It’s already being mocked for its terrible dialogue
Let’s talk more about that trailer, shall we? Released on November 15, 2023, it gave a first look at what the movie is about: spiders (obviously), seeing the future (okyyyy), and driving an ambulance (wait, what?). The trailer was a little underwhelming, but it showed some promise in the four spider-heroines teaming up to fight a familiar Spider-Man villain, Ezekiel.
That promise, however, was undermined by the film’s terrific dialogue, which was quickly shared and mocked on Twitter. In particular, Johnson’s delivery of this chestnut was widely trashed:[Ezekiel] was in the Amazon with my mother when she was researching spiders just before she died.” Oof. there are LOT of weird exposition packed into that line and combined with Johnson’s flat delivery (could it sound any more boring?), it suggests that the film will be less Spider-Man: No Way Home and more Morbius. It’s usually a good thing when a movie goes viral months before its release, but within Mrs. Webbcase, it is not.
There shouldn’t be a Madame Web movie in the first place
Of all the Marvel heroes Sony has the film rights to, why on Earth did they decide Madame Web was worthy of her own movie? The character first appeared in Marvel Comics in the 1980s as a supporting character who appeared occasionally without much consequence. The things that made her unique—she was one of the rare elderly, paralyzed, and blind superheroes—were gradually stripped away over the past two decades as she became younger, more capable, and more like any other hero. Spider.
From the looks of it, Mrs. Webb it’s not a Madame Web movie at all; is really a Spider-Women movie, with characters like Julia Carpenter and Mattie Franklin taking more of a central role. I don’t have a problem with that, but why turn it into a Madame Web movie and remove all of the character’s distinctive qualities? The end result feels bland, and in an increasingly hard-to-watch environment for superhero movies, it’s as deadly as a Scorpion’s sting.
Comic book fatigue is real and here to stay
MADAME WEB – Official Trailer (HD)
People have been complaining about comic book fatigue since … well, ever since Iron Man 2 left. However, those complaints grew louder and gained more credibility last year, as one movie after another, not to mention one mediocre MCU Disney+ show after another, was met with negative reviews and audience indifference. It was no longer enough to belong to a multiverse, or even to be tangentially related to a more popular character – comic book movies had to offer something fresh or new, or risk low box office returns.
This was probably too late, and when you look back, you wonder how the hell he did it Captain Marvel make over $1 billion in 2019, but the point is that movies are either good, like him, or completely bad like Morbius, won’t wait any longer. And there is no mistake about that Mrs. Webb it was developed and created in a bygone era when mediocrity could still be sold to the masses; all you needed was a bright Marvel logo and a post-credits scene that would tease a tidbit of connection to a better, more popular movie or character. Mrs. Webblike every other comic book movie in 2024 and beyond, it has to stand on its own merits, but there doesn’t seem to be much to entice anyone to its midrange.
Sony seems embarrassed that Madame Web is about superheroes
It’s never a good sign when the marketing for a movie tries to hide what it’s really about. In the early stages of its advertising campaign, Sony seemed to hide the fact that Mrs. Webb it was about evil webs, heroic spiders, or superheroes at all. Just look at the two posters above, which give priority to Dakota Johnson and the “regular” characters of heroes and villains in the film.
This odd approach would be understandable if Johnson were a more household name (she’s not) or if the characters involved were more popular with general audiences (they’re not), but to launch a big movie campaign with your leading actress. blank on the horizon is not a great sign of faith that this movie is actually good. Recent posters and ads have done a better job of showcasing the film’s fantastical elements, but there’s a sense that Sony is a little too little, too late in delivering Mrs. Webb a must see event.
Mrs. Webb hits theaters February 16.