When Sony first announced that it was making a Madame Web movie, there was some confusion as she’s a pretty obscure character, even for the most avid comic book fans. But one good way to find out more about the character is in Spider-Man: The Animated Series, where she was developed specifically with Stan Lee’s wife Joan in mind.
Madame Web is part of Sony’s new batch of Spider-Man movies which include Morbius and Kraven the Hunter. Madame Web is an elderly blind woman connected to a life-support system via a futuristic chair, so when Dakota Johnson was cast in the main role, things got even weirder – but potentially more exciting.
When Stan Lee’s wife Joan Lee passed away in 2017, John Semper Jr, (the head writer of the amazing ’90s animated series of Spider-Man) posted a tribute to her and explained how she was closely entwined with the role of Madame Web.
Semper Jr wrote on his Facebook page that he decided to have “an ominous, almost supernatural creature” guide Spider-Man in facing a big challenge in the final season. “I chose as his mentor Madame Web – a strange elderly woman who sat in a giant, metallic, futuristic chair. She was a relatively obscure character who had appeared in the comic books only briefly.”
“There was only one person I wanted to provide the voice for Madame Web; Joan Lee, the wife of Stan Lee… as I wrote the Madame Web character, it was Joan’s voice in my head that I was hearing. I knew she could capture perfectly the husky, haughty, almost arrogant attitude I wanted for Madame Web…Joan graciously consented to perform the role, and she was, as I had expected, perfect.”
Just as he had incredible cameos in all of the MCU and Spider-Man movies in order, Semper Jr even brought Stan Lee himself in at the end, so Spider-Man could face his creator; “For a brief moment, Stan also shared the screen with Madame Web, so I’d be able to write a playful bit of dialogue in which they expressed a mutual fascination with one another. Watching Joan and Stan record this brief exchange was for me one of the supreme highlights of working on the series.”
Madame Web is an older woman who cannot walk or see – making her an unlikely friend, or foe, to Spider-Man. Her life-supporting chair resembles a spider’s web and she has the mutant powers of precognition and clairvoyance – not unlike Professor X of the X-Men movies.
In the upcoming Marvel movie, Sydney Sweeney plays Julia Carpenter who (in the comics, at least) inherits Madame Web’s powers. Emma Roberts plays Spider-Man’s mother Mary Parker and Adam Scott plays a young Ben Parker.
With Dakota Johnson in the role, Sony is obviously going for a different spin on the character. While Morbius was pretty unambiguously a Spider-Man villain, it looks as though Kraven the Hunter and Madame Web may be more complex characters or antiheroes who wrestle with both light and dark parts of themselves. Whether any members of this rogue’s gallery will ever face Spider-Man actor Tom Holland remains to be seen.
We’re also looking forward to seeing Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock continue to wrestle with his dark side in Venom 3. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to wait until 2024 to find out more about both Madame Web and Kraven the Hunter, as they’ve been delayed until then. While we wait, find out what we know so far about Spider-Man 4, as well as The Marvels and Deadpool 3.