Swinging Into action: Dakota Johnson to Star in Spider-Man Spinoff

Amidst a massive resurgence of Marvel content and the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Sony has revealed that actress Dakota Johnson will be starring as Madame Web in an upcoming film.

With the unparalleled success of Spider-Man: No Way Home, it appears that Sony studios is looking to expand its world of Marvel characters. 50 Shades of Grey actress Dakota Johnson will be suiting up to play Madame Web, making her the first woman to headline a Sony Marvel production. Though we know little about the upcoming film, S.J. Clarkson, known for her work on the Netflix Marvel series Jessica Jones and The Defenders, is said to direct the project, with the screenplay written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, the duo behind Jared Leto’s upcoming thriller Morbius.

Johnson became a household name following her breakout role in the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy and has since gravitated towards smaller independent projects. Johnson recently starred in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s psychological drama and directorial debut The Lost Daughter and received critical acclaim for two Sundance films, Cha Cha Real Smooth and Am I OK? The actress seemingly confirmed the news, posting a spiderweb emoji to her instagram story.

Madame Web, also known as Cassandra Web, made her Marvel comic debut in Amazing Spider-Man #210 in 1980. Madam Web often appears as a side character to the famed web-slinger and is depicted as a blind, paralyzed elderly woman who has myasthenia gravis, a chronic autoimmune disorder requiring her to connect to a life support system resembling a spider web—inspiring her superhero pseudonym. While she may sound benign, Web has powerful psychic and telekinetic abilities which she uses to work as a medium. In the comics, Madam Web is not only an ally to Spider-Man, she is the connector and sole point of contact for all spider-people across the multiverse. 

In Amazing Spider-Man #637 in 2010, a dying Madam Web transfers her consciousness to Julia Carpenter, formerly Spider-Woman. Julia Carpenter made her first appearance in Marvel Superhero Secret Wars #6 in 1984. She was the second superhero to take on the role of Spider-Woman following the death of Julia Drew, later becoming the hero known as Arachne, before becoming the new Madame Web. It is likely this is the interpretation we will be seeing on the big screen.

The announcement was made in early February amidst the success of No Way Home and the upcoming Spider-Man spinoff films Spider-Man: Across the Multiverse and Morbius, as well as the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The studio is currently riding high following the third installment of actor Tom Holland’s Homecoming trilogy. The film earned nearly two billion dollars at the box office, and managed to unite and connect three portrayals of the famous web-shooting crime-fighter from the last 20 years, and opened the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to infinite possibilities, literally. With this, a Madame Web solo film has the potential to vastly expand and further explore the spider-verse and create a bridge between the MCU and SMCU. While the announcement of the film has received criticism, with some skeptical of its decision to cast Johnson and others going as far as to question if the film deserves to see the light of day, the character of Madame web has the ability to open both the MCU and SMCU and allow for crossover. In the comics, Julia Carpenter has interactions with Doc Ock, Morbius, Shang-Chi, and Venom, as well as Kraven the Hunter who is said to receive a solo film starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson. While Madame Web seems a promising installment to the Marvel and Sony Marvel Franchises, the future remains unclear and the film will not likely be hitting the big screen any time soon. In the meantime, fans can watch Johnson in The Lost Daughter, available on Netflix, or you can go see Spider-Man: No Way Home for the eleventh time…