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

The last time we saw Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston), he and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) killed Kang (Jonathan Majors) (the latter plunging a dagger into Kang's heart) and started a multiversal war—one that is the McGuffin for MCU's Phase 4.

Except, that was waylaid by a worldwide pandemic. And Majors' domestic abuse scandal didn't help matters so we don't even know if Majors will be a major player (ugggggh) in Marvel's future. There has been a bit of rejigging in terms of the storyline so we're not sure if Kang will be the big bad. But with enough time and distance, people will forget about the hiccups in favour of a newer, better thing.

But even with the presence of Kang in the second season of Loki, this is still about Loki. This is after all the titular demi-god of trickery and excellent hair's rodeo. He's now an agent of TVA (Time Variance Authority) and he'll be working with Mobius M Mobius (Owen Wilson), Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) and introducing OB or Ouroboros played by Oscar winner, Ke Huy Quan. And who is OB? According to a featurette, he acts like a Q-type who is in charge of the gadgets and sage wisdom.

Loki is also susceptible to timeslipping, where he phases in and out of his current and other timelines. Will this be detrimental to his well-being like the Spider variants from the Spider-Verse? Is this a side-effect of the multerverse? And what is the deal with Miss Minutes, TVA's animated anthropomorphic clock mascot (voiced by Tara Strong)? We won't know until the first episode drops 6 October.

Loki season 2 will drop on Disney+ this Friday.

10-Word Review

For a film with a questionable lead, it's kinda enjoyable?

The Skinny

Using the Speed Force, the Flash (played by Ezra Miller) goes back in time to prevent his mother from dying. But that one act of kindness has consequences that are rippled across the timelines.

Here Be Spoilers...

What we like:

Just when you think that superhero fatigue has set in, films like The Flash prove otherwise. It's a fun romp that is action-packed and still delivers the pathos. Ezra Miller, whom you've seen in previous films like the Fantastic Beasts series, The Perks of Being a Wallflower and that seven-second clip where Miller grabs a woman by the throat and throws her to the ground, is likeable as a superhero with inadequacy issues.

Despite the controversy around Miller's personal life, their character on screen is charismatic and winsome. When Miller's character interact with his younger self, there's a great distinction between the two Millers' personality that you almost forget that they are played by the same person. Miller is charming so much so that for two hours you're so caught up in the visual effects and story, you forgot that they were arrested and charged in Hawaii with disorderly conduct and harassment for a physical confrontation with patrons at a karaoke bar.

Drawing from the Flashpoint story arc from the Flash comic book, our protagonist discovers that he's able to use the Speed Force and travel back in time. He reasons that if he can do that, he'll be able to stop his mother's murder and exonerate his father who is wrongfully imprisoned for her murder. The movie dives into what happens when we change the past. And as with all time travel films you've seen, the answer is a resounding 'not great'. It is often with the best of intentions that the road to hell is paved.

Stopping his mother's murder has not only affected all that happens from the point of alteration, it has also affected events prior to it as well. Welcome to the multiverse as the Flash's actions splinters from the original timeline into many others thus giving birth to a future escape plan into retconning the DC universe.

In this current timeline, there's a new Batman and Superman never landed in Kansas as a baby. Instead—and this isn't a spoiler as the trailers have already given away—we get Michael Keaton as Batman and Sasha Calle as Supergirl. Keaton's Batman has a special place in my heart on being able to break the campy tone that Adam West had set up. He still has that slight impish twinkle in his eye as he gets to issue beat-downs in his batsuit (hey look, now Keaton can move his head in the Bat-cowl!). Calle looks great as Supergirl and can give Batman a run for his money in the brooding department. She doesn't say much but she commands the scene with equal parts physicality and vulnerability.

What we didn't like:

There's the pomp and circumstance that you expect with superhero films. The Flash is no different except that in the later half of the film, you get a little fatigued. Action sequences suddenly become flashy (my God, really?) and have no other reason than being a visual spectacle.

And speaking of 'visual spectacle', what is up with the CGI? They look off, like there wasn't enough time for animators to polish it up. According to director Andy Muschietti, the look was intentional because as we are seeing things from the Flash's perspective, light and textures operate differently when the Flash taps into the Speed Force or is time travelling in the Chrono Bowl.

This seems too... convenient. A crew member who worked on the movie had a different take on the CGI and given that The Flash was in development hell, it seems more likely to be a case of a poor "collaboration process between the effects companies and entertainment studios".

Another thing that got our goat is the ending. The big takeaway is that you cannot change the past because that screws up the timeline. The Flash undoes the damage but he still altered the past to exonerate his dad in the present. Of course, the timeline gets affected (again) and I can't help but think that everything the film does was unravelled just to set up that one jokey cameo.

There's something telling about a hero that doesn't learn from their mistake. That even after repeated misdemeanours, they still get to live out their life without any repercussions? What is this? The real world? I watch the movies to escape reality, damn it!

What to look out for:

There are cameos galore. Watch out for easter eggs like an Elseworld of the aborted Nicholas Cage's Superman Lives and a realised version of the aborted Back to the Future version with Eric Stoltz as Marty McFly. There's also the staple superfluous end-credit scene and, if you wait long after that, we might see whether Ezra Miller is able to continue their career unscathed.

The Flash is now out in theatres.