‘Madame Web’ Faces Harsh Criticism: Described as ‘Hilariously Bad’ and an ‘Embarrassing Mess’
Here are some of the most scathing comments about the review of Madame Web, which critics call “a new nadir for superhero failures” and “an authentic disaster on the level of Chernobyl.”
A superhero film faces significant challenges when even the “first reactions” from fan sites are overwhelmingly negative. The recently unveiled critic reviews for Marvel and Sony’s Madame Web are equally harsh, with write-ups that prove to be quite devastating for the Spider-Man spin-off.
Review of Madame Web: Dakota Johnson Takes the Lead in a Disappointingly Lethargic Spider-Man Spinoff
Directed by S.J. Clarkson (known for The Defenders), Madame Web features Dakota Johnson (renowned for Fifty Shades of Grey) in the lead role as a New York paramedic who acquires psychic abilities. Clarkson, Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless and Claire Parker were in charge of the script.
While Dakota Johnson largely avoids criticism, other aspects of the movie face severe backlash as the newest manifestation of superhero fatigue colliding with a genuinely underwhelming film. Adding to Marvel’s concerns, Madame Web is releasing just two months after The Marvels, which became the lowest-grossing MCU title, earning a mere $206 million. If the critiques for Madame Web serve as any indication, The Marvels’ box office record could be at risk.
In what seems like an attempt to expedite the process, Madame Web held its world premiere just last night, with the review embargo lifted this morning. Surprisingly, the film is set to open in theaters tomorrow.
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Damning Reviews for Madame Web, Bad News for Spider-Man Spinoff
The Hollywood Reporter: “It is an airless and stilted endeavor driven by a mechanical screenplay … Its lack of imagination would be astounding if it wasn’t so expected … The film operates on a need-to-know basis, forcing people to explain themselves through inelegantly breathless exposition.”
The Daily Beast: “…. a torturous saga that haplessly spins about in circles trying to fashion a competent tone or coherent action sequence. No matter its heroine’s clairvoyant super-powers, it’s a debacle incapable of seeing—and thus avoiding—its every subsequent misstep …. Director S.J. Clarkson stages it with all the grace of a runaway train, her snap zooms, whiplash cinematography, canted angles, and overly theatrical lighting turning this prologue embarrassingly comical. Is full of bad dialogue delivered badly by talented men and women stuck with crummy material and equally lousy stewardship…. Sony’s Spider-Man Universe is now completely lifeless—and in no need of resuscitation.”
Rolling Stone: “Madame Web isn’t as bad as its somewhat botched promotional campaign might suggest. It is, in fact, way worse. A genuine Chernobyl-level disaster that seems to get exponentially more radioactive as it goes along, this detour to one of the dustier corners of Marvel’s content farm is a dead-end from start to finish. It is the Cats: The Movie of superhero movies. Not a single decision seems of sound mind. Not a single performance feels in sync with the material. Also, not a single line reading feels as if it hasn’t somehow been magically auto-tuned to subtract emotion and/or inflection. The sole amazing factor of this Spider-spinoff is that someone, somewhere signed off on actually releasing it…”
But it doesn’t stop there, the Backlash Continues
Collider: “Madame Web’s writing strains to emulate teenage girls cracking wise with each other or any other kind of positive human emotion. This is a screenplay that speaks in backstory and surface-level comic book references (like Sims always being barefoot). It doesn’t understand how people actually interact with one another…. Beyond even those staggeringly amateurish filmmaking flourishes, Madame Web has none of the laughs or thrills that general audiences come to superhero movies for. Much like Morbius from two years ago, it’s a pale imitation of comic book motion pictures from the past.”
Slashfilm: “I hesitate to describe it as a superhero film. It’s more like a pre-origin story, a tale of who various Spider-Women were before they got their powers. Audiences are treated to several flashes-forward to the time when they’ll be in costume, but Madame Web isn’t about how they got their powers or stitched together their outfits. It’s merely about the assurance that they will indeed be heroes someday…. This may be one of the final films of the superhero renaissance. Enjoy it before it topples over entirely.”
IGN: “Madame Web tries to connect many plots and people to a confusing yet bland result. It tries to balance the comedic tone of a modern superhero movie with what could be a more interesting psychological thriller if it invested more time on developing its hero and villain. Rather than spreading itself thin trying to connect all these new versions of characters together. It fails as a one-off and a franchise starter, not telling a fulfilling origin story for Cassie nor giving a compelling argument for the future Spider-Women. The weak dialogue unfortunately stands out. However, the few action set pieces harken to the older Spider-Man movies of the early 2000s.”
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I am a circus aerialist influenced by Dick Grayson and Spider-Man. Fortunate to write about the characters that inspired me. I also have a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and a Master's degree in International Trade.