Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures

Madame Web

also known as “Madam Web,” “Madame Web!,” “Madam Võrk,” “Madame Teia,” See more »
MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for violence/action and language.

Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan

Moral Rating: Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adults
Genre: Superhero Sci-Fi Action Adventure IMAX Adaptation
Length: 1 hr. 56 min.
Year of Release: 2024
USA Release: February 14, 2024 (wide release—4,013 theaters)
DVD: April 30, 2024
Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Picturesclick photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures
Relevant Issues

Seeing future events

Clairvoyant superpowers / paranormal psychic abilities

Questioning one’s own sanity

About SPIDERS in the Bible

What is the Occult?

The Occult—What does the Bible say about it?

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Copyright, Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures
Featuring Dakota JohnsonMadame Web / Cassandra Webb
Sydney SweeneyJulia Cornwall
Isabela MercedAnya Corazon
Emma RobertsMary Parker
Adam ScottBen Parker
Zosia MametAmaria
Tahar RahimEzekiel Sims
Jill HennessyBeautiful Woman
Celeste O'ConnorMattie Franklin
Mike EppsO’Neil
Kerry Bishé (Kerry Bishe) … Constance Webb
José María Yazpik (Jose María Yazpik) … Santiago
See all »
Director S.J. Clarkson
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura
Adam Merims
See all »
Distributor: Columbia Pictures. Trademark logo.
Columbia Pictures
, a division of Sony Pictures

It’s 1973 and somewhere deep in a Peruvian jungle, a young, pregnant arachnologist Constance Webb (Kerry Bishé) and her partner Ezekiel Stiles (Tahar Rahim) are on the lookout for a rare Peruvian spider that is said to have incredible healing powers.

While Constance’s motives may be pure, Ezekiel’s are not. Upon Constance’s discovery of the rare spider, Ezekiel betrays her, accidentally discharging his firearm and wounding Constance in the process.

As Ezekiel is fleeing the scene, the native Spider People attempt to save Constance by bringing her to a healing pool and having one of the red spiders bite her. Unfortunately Constance dies from her gunshot wound, but not before giving birth to a beautiful baby girl named Cassandra.

Flashforward to 2003. The young Cassandra (Dakota Johnson) has made a life for herself in New York City as an EMT. While on a bridge trying to save people from a car that is about to go into the river, the car and her fall into the water.

She is revived by her EMT coworker and at first thinks nothing of it. But then she begins to notice things about herself that don’t quite make sense. For example, she can see conversations or events that are going to occur before they actually happen, such as a few that occur with her EMT colleagues or at her friend Mary Parker’s (Emma Roberts) baby shower.

At first Cassie thinks nothing of it, but then when she fails to save someone from an accident she realizes she can actually see into the future.

Did you think we forgot about Ezekiel? Of course not! He’s been on the hunt for three girls that he keeps seeing in his dreams. Three teenage girls in superhero suits, who he believes are going to be the cause of his death. He is eventually able to identify them as Julia Cornwall (Sydney Sweeney), Anya Corazon (Isabela Merced), and Mattie Franklin (Celeste O'Connor).

Cassie herself ends up running into these three teens on a subway and, after learning Ezekiel is after the girls, she vows to protect them. It’s up to her to find a way to stop him once and for all and keep the girls safe in the process.

I like to think of myself as a superhero-fan of sorts. I’ve seen all the films in Phase II and Phase III of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, twice. I’ve even seen many of the superhero movies in the DC Universe as well. When my students come up and ask, “Who are your favorite superheroes?” I tell them. “That depends. If it’s Marvel, my favorite superheroes are Spider-Man, Captain America and Black Widow. If it’s DC, it’s Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.”

So, I opened myself to the possibility of perhaps, just perhaps, maybe I’d be intrigued by “Madame Web.” Also, I always give films the benefit of the doubt, despite whatever other critics have said about a film (yes I’m aware of its shocking 13% rotten score on Rotten Tomatoes, which is lower than “Morbius”).

On one hand, “Madame Web” isn’t perfect. For example (this doesn’t spoil anything I promise) there are “surveillance techniques” that Ezekiel uses in the film that would not have been possible in 2003 (such as facial recognition of individuals in mass crowds, or at least not the way we can use facial recognition now). There are also times where the dialog between characters feels rather forced, particularly between Cassie and the girls.

Speaking of performances, and maybe to the film’s credit, I believe Dakota Johnson does give the best performance she can provide, but her three teenage co-stars don’t give her much to work with, and neither does Tahir Rahim.

Speaking of character-development, as other critics have pointed out, “Madame Web” provides very little of it and while you don’t expect too much of it in a superhero film, a little is needed to actually get the audience invested. Why should I care about Cassie? She’s just another person with supernatural powers.

As for the action in this superhero flick, the action is very problematic and I mean VERY. It puts adults, yes, but also teenage girls in some serious danger, and there are even some sequences, even as premonitions that don’t come to light (thankfully), that show serious harm coming to the teenage girls (this spoils nothing, I promise).

Content of Concern

VIOLENCE: Note: Not everything is listed here. Three people are shot and killed. A pregnant woman is shot and mortally wounded (she gives birth before she dies). A car flips over a bridge with someone inside of it who begin to drown in the river. A character is pushed out a window and falls to their death. A NSA agent is slowly poisoned and killed. An ambulance is side hit and the EMT driving the ambulance dies as a result. A woman is held in the air by the throat. A train passenger is killed. Police are killed.

A teen’s neck is snapped and another teen is choked to death. Cassie is stabbed. Someone is hit by a car twice. Car explodes. A character falls off a sign on a tall building and falls to the pavement (the sign then comes down on him). There is a scene where fireworks are exploding around people, particularly teens. A character is punched. A helicopter spirals to the ground after an explosive round hits it. Cars crash into one another. A speeding dump truck plows into an ambulance.

Cassie pulls an injured driver out of an emergency vehicle and tries to staunch his gushing wounds. She steps away covered in the man’s blood. A character drowns twice. Sims is hit by the shock of a defibrillator. People are bitten by spiders. A bird smashes into a closed window, breaking its neck.

VULGARITY: Obscene gesture (1), What the… (f-word implied) (1), a**-hole (2), a*ss, b*tch (1), sh*t (3)

PROFANITY: H*ly sh*t (2), J*sus (5), G*d (6), Oh my G*d (1)

SEXUAl: A character has sexual intercourse with another character (offscreen, and implied as they wake up in bed together in the next scene). A mother gives birth to a baby. Someone mentions “peeing” outside in the woods.

NUDITY: Girls are shown wearing midriff-baring tops. A male is shirtless in bed and his female partner is seen wearing panties. There are a couple cleavage-baring outfits. A naked child is shown during childbirth.

ALCOHOL: Some people are seen drinking beer at a party.

DRUGS: Poison is used to kill individuals. The Peruvian spider’s venom has healing powers.

OCCULT: The Spider-People use some kind of ritual in an attempt to heal Cassandra. There are themes involving precognition (seeing into the future) and astral projection.

WOKEISM: A teen mentions that her father was deported because he was in the United State illegally, and that she lives on her own and takes care of herself.

OTHER: We see someone with blood on their hands a few times. We witness a dead pigeon. Someone takes someone’s skateboard. A character goes blind and paralyzed from an accident. We hear from the teens about how very neglectful and often dismissive their parents are.

Spiritual Issues

Madame Web’s powers consist of precognition and astral projection. These are considered psychic abilities, and the Bible is clear, anything that entertains mediums, psychics, or the occult are in direct defiance and opposition of God.

“When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? —Isaiah 8:19

“Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!” —Ezekiel 13:3

“Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you. You must be blameless before the Lord your God.” —Deuteronomy 18:10-15

For more information on what the Bible says about the occult I strongly recommend you consult Christian Answer’s article on the Occult and its practices below.

Q & A

What is the Occult?

The Occult—What does the Bible say about it?

Closing Thoughts

“Madame Web” is, what I would call, a much more dangerous part of the Spider-verse than the regular Spider-Man series. For one thing, there is much violence, and this isn’t the “rock-em, sock-em” superhero action we’re used to seeing. It teeters on the uncomfortable to the point, as a teacher, that even I was squirming in my seat, as I watched teenage girls killed on screen in the most grotesque manner of ways, no matter how brief.

However, what makes “Madame Web” really dangerous for viewing is accepting and opening occultic practices like clairvoyance and astral projection as part of the superhero reality (like they did with Charles Xavier and the X-Men). Even if these practices weren’t a part of this film, it just wasn’t well made to begin with: clunky dialog, a very thin plot (I mean paper thin) and bland performances just make this film a pass for Christian audiences, both children, teens, and adults. Skip this one.

  • Violence: Heavy
  • Occult: Moderately Heavy
  • Profane language: Moderate
  • Vulgar/Crude language: Moderate
  • Nudity: Mild
  • Sex: Mild
  • Drugs/Alcohol: Mild
  • Wokeism: Mild

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I’m actually very surprised there are no reviews from viewers yet for “Madame Web”! The critics all said this was a waste of time and money, so perhaps it scared away any would-be movie-goers. True, it wasn’t a blockbuster hit like “Infinity War” or something, but it was actually really good. It’s Hollywood, so you can expect a bit of the usual swearing, violence, and women dressed in skirts that are too short, but otherwise—I loved this movie! Marvel is setting up it’s next generation of characters, and the will be mostly women, it seems. This movie is set up very well to be the first of a series. I’m sad that it didn’t do well at the box office, because Disney will probably either cancel the rest of its plans or turn it into a Disney+ mini-series instead.

Bottom line: this isn’t for young children, but it’s worth your time for teens and adults to go see it and get the back-story of up-and-coming characters! Perhaps wait for it to come out at a discount theater or on Disney+ if you don’t want to save money for big-bucks-worthy films, but still, go see it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
Chrystal Smith, age 47 (USA)
Positive—This is a fascinating movie for those who are familiar with the Spider-man storyline started by Straczynski in the early 2000s where Peter Parker is confronted by another man with spider powers and learns his powers are connected to a mythological totem. Madame Web has “Spider-sense” powers that let her see what will happen ahead of time in some situations. However, in this movie, she has to become a heroine before Peter is even born.

It is not easy for her to become a heroine because of her history of being abandoned, however her colleague Ben Parker supports her in her job to prevent three teen girls from being murdered by an evil man who basically has Spider-man’s powers. The phrase, “with great power comes great responsibility” is one she believes as a paramedic, but also difficult to follow with her limited abilities.

The movie relies on her mental tension to tell the story and feels a bit slower that other Spider-man movies because it is not as heavy in action scenes and the teenage girls also have similar backgrounds of abandonment as Madame Web causing the banter to be different than other superhero movies and not as “carefree” or funny.

It has content concerns like other Spider-man movies: the violence including choking, car crashes, explosions, poisoning, stabbing, shooting… Some swearing and a crude gesture… and the implication that a man slept with his date and also girls dancing on a table in front of guys.

Maybe the bigger content concern was that the theater chain (Harkin's) ran 3 horror movie ads before the movie with a teddy bear convincing a child to self-harm, blood-spattered murder by something in the attic, tarot cards, and demonic-looking creatures. The kids (5-7 year old) that were a few rows behind us were disturbed by these.

This is a good movie if you’re interested in the premise, but it is not like a Spider-man movie, although it does have many references to the previous Spider-man movies hidden in the sets and the way it was filmed. The producers/directors are different as well, creating a different feel, but I still enjoyed it.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
EJH, age 32 (USA)

PLEASE share your observations and insights to be posted here.

Secular Movie Critics
…just a time suck. An annoyance. A waste. …The studio is contractually obligated to keep releasing new material in order to retain the rights, and boy does this movie feel like it’s just checking boxes and running the clock out… [1½/5]
Kimberley Jones, The Austin Chronicle
…more hilariously bad than everyone predicted… full of bad dialogue delivered badly by talented men and women stuck with crummy material…
Nick Schager, The Daily Beast
…A new low for superhero debacles … At least “Catwoman” and “Batman & Robin” believed in what they were doing. …
Fred Topel, UPI (United Press International)
…With an awful script and not a single ounce of charm among the star-studded cast, “Madame Web” feels like little more than a Spider-Man movie knockoff. …boring, unimaginative and dated… a superhero movie you can absolutely skip. …
Molly Freeman, Screen Rant
…has none of the laughs or thrills that general audiences come to superhero movies for… an utterly tedious slog of a movie drained of fun visuals and, most pressingly, any sense of tangible humanity. …Awkward writing and directing result in characters that lack depth and authenticity. …
Lisa Laman, Collider
…utterly forgettable… one of the worst filmed and acted prologues in recent memory. Seriously, we are not exaggerating. The beginning of the movie is truly that bad. …
Gregory Ellwood, The Playlist
…lame… feels like it was made by and for people who have never seen a modern superhero movie. In theory, that might have been a blessing in disguise. In practice, only Johnson is able to make it seem that way. …[D+]
David Ehrlich, IndieWire
…the worst superhero movie since “Morbius”… If only a psychic could have warned us about these wretched Spider-Man spinoffs. …[1½/4]
Brian Truitt, USA Today
…We owe “The Marvels,” “Eternals” and “Morbius” an apology. Who knew superhero fare could sink as low as “Madame Web?”…
Christian Toto, Hollywood in Toto
…mess of a script… bouts of extremely clunky dialogue… Ultimately, “Madame Web” might have sounded like an interesting experiment, and it sort of is, but the execution feels less like a fully realized film than an extended prologue for a movie to come. …
Brian Lowry, CNN
…has the makings of a interesting superhero psychological thriller, but with a script overcrowded with extraneous characters, basic archetypes, and generic dialogue, it fails the talent…
Francesca Rivera, IGN