Although Madame Web boasts the superpower of seeing into the future, there’s no way she could’ve foreseen this disaster…

To date, Madame Web has generated USD57 million worldwide. Yikes.

The Hollywood Reporter published that this is the worst opening for a Sony movie that features characters directly from the Spider-Man ethos. And unfortunately for those with ‘I Love The Multiverse’ in their LinkedIn profile, the carousel of underperforming superhero movies—both Marvel and DC—is only continuing, if not speeding up.

Madame Web is laughably bad. The script is FULL of clunky lines like the memeified "He was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders right before she died," the action is shoddy, the characters are dull. It desperately wants to be a Spider-Man movie, but it isn't

— molly freeman (@mollyrockit) February 13, 2024

With a shocking 13 per cent score on Rotten Tomatoes, this may very well be the beginning of the end for the reign of superhero films.

Madame Web is riddled with mistakes that will be noticeable to even somewhat mindful viewers, like anachronisms with the movie’s 2003 setting, questionable medical knowledge, obvious product placement, camera angles that overtly reveal that scenes make no sense and a seeming ignorance of the film’s own established plot points,” notes KCENTV.

But is the film the only one to blame? Or are there additional factors that have contributed to the film’s shameful descent into cinematic Armageddon?

As someone who spends copious amounts of time at the movie theatre, there was surprisingly little promo for the film. Especially since this was not some indie flick but rather a new instalment in the biggest franchise ever. To my memory, the only time a Marvel film has received such little attention, was 2021’s Eternals. That film, perhaps until now, was the biggest Marvel flop to date. Not even a star-studded cast including Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani’s recently acquired biceps could keep the film afloat. And what’s perhaps even more surprising is that Madame Web was clobbered by the recent biopic Bob Marley: One Love. Despite Bob Marley being an icon of music, few could foresee him toppling Spider-Man.

Maybe It's the Lead

Dakota Johnson has also generated some serious flack online. Mostly for her indifference not just toward the film, but toward any form of promotion, having gone viral for saying she “isn’t good at talking to journalists.” I'm going to make a bold claim here. That nobody who has to use spreadsheets likes to use spreadsheets, but we do it because we have to.

One is instantly reminded of the current backlash Rachel Zegler faced for her souring comments about her upcoming Snow White remake. Many suspect that, due to the public outrage over her disreputable comments on the iconic Disney character that literally built the foundation on the which the company now stands, Disney is secretly in talks to not just reshoot large parts of the film, but to recast Zegler as well, but alas, I digress.

In an interview leading up to the film, Johnson struggled to name a single Tom Holland Spider-Man film. She'd admit later that she’d personally only seen less than five per cent of any of the superhero movies. Considering the current fanbase for these flicks, that probably isn’t the best way to get people on your team. Adding that "drastic changes" were made to the script throughout the press tour, again, isn’t the biggest insinuator that the movie is going to be a hit.

Online, memes have already been posted about how Madame Web is even worse than Morbius. Remember Morbius? Not only was it the worst superhero film ever made, but one of the worst movies of all time.

Morbius waking up seeing the Madame Web reviews...

— ScreenTime (@screentime) February 13, 2024

What many don’t know is that Madame Web isn’t actually part of the MCU, but rather a standalone Sony picture. The company still partly owns the rights to Spider-Man, and is understandably not looking to give those up anytime soon. Another film not part of the MCU but slyly promoted as so? Morbius. Perhaps we’re catching on to a pattern here. Say what you will about the Marvel films, but they have a winning formula. And when they deviate from that formula, not just story-wise but with productional backing, well, then perhaps you get Madame Web and Morbius, two of the (sorry) least exciting characters from the Spider-Man universe.

In 2014’s Birdman, Michael Keaton’s character is putting on a Broadway play, and when he suggests actors for consideration, he realises that everyone is busy with superhero movies. “They put him in a cape too?!” he laments. Ironic coming from Batman. Especially one who reprised his role in last year’s horrendous The Flash. But the point of all this is that if you put on a cape, you’re guaranteed a fat paycheck. Edward Norton admitted that he was only paid USD4,200 for Moonrise Kingdom. And when you take that into consideration, one can sympathise with the decision of every major movie star lunging at the opportunity to do karate in front of a green screen. Even if the movie sucks.

Originally published on Esquire ME