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The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

‘Madame Web’ swings through theaters across the Spider-verse

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Adam Marotta

“Madame Web” premiered Feb. 14 and has been stirring up conversation ever since. Despite being painted as a disaster by many critics, the film stood out as a refreshing twist in the superhero genre.

The latest Sony Pictures movie associated with Marvel Studios, directed by S.J. Clarkson, explores identity, destiny and sorority. Clarkson, who is best known for her involvement in the HBO hit show “Succession,” decided to go for a movie with fewer fight scenes and CGI to a thrilling psychological but campy mystery. 

The story follows Dakota Johnson’s Cassandra “Cassie” Webb, a paramedic who finds herself in a net of cosmic forces when she starts seeing glimpses of the future. In the film, set in 2003, Cassie is handed a huge responsibility to protect three teenagers as she tries to understand and master her power. 

Johnson shined as the enigmatic Madame Web. With witty jokes and a firm attitude, the actress couldn’t have been a better choice for the part. Even though the movie had a villain, evil Spider-Man Ezekiel Sims, played by Tahar Rahim, Cassie’s greatest enemy was herself for the first half of the movie. When she finally embraced her life story, she became fully aware of how to deal with her sixth sense. 

What’s interesting about “Madame Web” is that the movie creates a background story for the hero, who is often portrayed as an elderly Spider-woman in the comics. As for the spiders themselves, in the movie, there’s a special and rare kind found in the Amazon along with the Spider-people who possess their powers. 

The whole “spider-people” legend didn’t fit well with the story, but was still told in a captivating way. Rahim’s evil Spider-Man was another disjointed disappointment. The villain had so much potential, but unfortunately he was trapped in an unsatisfactory script and storyline. 

However, Johnson’s acting and character still managed to capture my attention, along with what I thought was the biggest highlight of this movie: its cinematography. 

Led by the Italian-American cinematographer Mauro Fiore, “Madame Web” was, I dare to say, revolutionary in terms of camera motion decisions for an associated Marvel Studios production. The series of tilted angles, whip panoramas and the constant zoom in and out captured the essence of not only Cassie’s troubled state of mind, but also the “movements” of a spider. Not to mention, the lighting and sound choices adapted to the 2000s vibe that made me feel inside the story. 

Yet, the supporting cast deserved more screen time. The “Anyone But You” and “Euphoria” star Sydney Sweeney portrayed one of the three teenagers whom Ezekiel threatens, and as someone who watched “Anyone But You,” I think Sweeney’s potential was much greater than what was presented to her. 

I think one big mistake of the movie was focusing a lot on the Amazon Spider myth for the first 20 minutes instead of properly presenting the co-stars Sweeney, Isabela Merced and Celeste O’Connor. 

There were a fair amount of memorable scenes, especially one where Cassie reunites with her mother and understands her purpose and power. The ending was the right amount of cheesy, but seeing the evolution of Cassie’s relationship with the three girls warmed my heart. 

Women have always been put in a position of submission and weakness. At the same time, men were consistently the superhero, but watching this scene made me realize how cinema is finally starting to prove that women can be as and even more powerful. 

That was a big win for the genre, but at the same time, as I look through the bad reviews, I wonder if moviegoers are simply reluctant to accept a superhero movie where women are the main focus. 

One thing is certain, “Madame Web” will go down in history one way or another. It may have faced an enormous amount of criticism, but for me, it proves there is still room for innovation in the hero genre. From clever camera motions to woman empowerment, it presents the audience with a new superhero world from a woman’s perspective. 

“Madame Web” is now in theaters.

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About the Contributor
Elise Coelho, Staff Writer | she/her
Elise is a sophomore from São Paulo, Brazil. She is majoring in philosophy with a minor in journalism. She loves to read, write, listen to music and take pictures. Her favorite band is Maneskin, and most of the time you can find her at a theater watching a musical. After graduation she plans to become an author and share her stories with the world.

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