Who is Madame Web? How the latest Spider-Man spin-off fits into the Marvel universe

The superhero, played by Dakota Johnson in the coming film, pre-dates Peter Parker's narrative

From left, Madame Web stars Isabela Merced, Dakota Johnson, Sydney Sweeney and Celeste O’Connor. Photo: Sony Pictures / Marvel
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For those missing their superheroes on the big screen, Marvel is returning with an expanded Spider-Man universe as well as new characters and villains.

Madame Web – starring Dakota Johnson as the titular character, alongside Euphoria actress Sydney Sweeney as Julia Carpenter – is set to be released in the UAE in February.

The film also stars American Horror Story actress Emma Roberts as Mary Parker, who is Peter Parker’s (aka Spider-Man) mother, and Adam Scott as Peter’s uncle Ben Parker.

The film pre-dates the narrative involving Parker as Spider-Man.

What is Madame Web's backstory?

Madame Web’s real name is Cassandra Webb. She first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man comic number 210 in November 1980, in which she helped Spider-Man find a kidnapping victim.

According to Marvel, in the comics Webb is an elderly woman who is a mutant and clairvoyant. She is also blind and partially disabled due to a neuromuscular disease. She has a web-shaped chair, which doubles as a life-support machine.

Madame Web knows about Parker’s crime-fighting alter-ego and keeps it secret for him. She also uses her psychic powers to help him fight villains. She is killed by Kraven the Hunter in the comics; before she dies, she passes on her psychic powers and also her blindness to Carpenter, who becomes the next Madame Web.

What does the trailer reveal?

The trailer is, as the film's title suggests, a tangled web.

The character Webb (Johnson) is a paramedic who, after plunging off the Brooklyn Bridge into the Hudson River while saving a man trapped in a car, is brought back to life and begins experiencing visions, including the ability to see into the future.

Webb’s prophecies aren’t taken seriously, until Ezekiel Sims (played by French-Algerian actor Tahar Rahim) turns up, boasting the same abilities as her, as well as slick superpowers, which foreshadow Spider-Man's.

In the trailer, Webb tries to stop Sims from attacking a group of teenage girls in a diner. The teens – Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced), Mattie Franklin (Celeste O’Connor) and Carpenter – then establish that they are all connected in different ways.

After Sims tries to kill the girls again, this time on a train, Webb also realises she knows him, saying: “He was in the Amazon with my mum when she was researching spiders right before she died.”

When Sims later tells Webb: “You have no idea what those girls have coming,” she realises he’s set on killing the teenagers in a bid to change the future.

In the Marvel comics, Franklin eventually becomes Spider-Woman and Corazon becomes Spider-Girl, alongside Carpenter’s Madame Web, indicating that Sims will stop at nothing to prevent them from fulfilling their destinies.

Madame Web is expected to reach UAE cinemas in February

Updated: November 16, 2023, 11:40 AM