Madame Web explained — the history of the Marvel character

Madame Web is climbing her way into Sony's Spider-Man universe, so here's her backstory, powers, and more explained before the Marvel movie.

Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb in Madame Web

Say what you want about Sony’s Marvel movies but we can’t accuse them of not taking some curious risks, and Madame Web might be their riskiest idea yet.

Belonging to Spider-Man‘s corner of Marvel Comics, even seasoned readers might be unfamiliar with the character, so here’s some background on her origin and powers. She’s a strange choice to lead new Spider-Man movies, but that’s why we’re eager for the Madame Web release date to arrive — let the outcasts take over, already!

Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb in Madame Web

Madame Web explained

Madame Web, real name Cassandra Webb, is an older Spider-Man character with psychic abilities.

Cassandra’s life took a turn when she began to suffer from the neuromuscular disease myasthenia gravis, which caused her blindness and left her tied to a life-support system that looked like a spider’s web (Editor: of course it does).

She might not have the same raw strength as a lot of heroes or Spider-Man villains, but she makes up for it with high intelligence and her clairvoyant abilities. On the page, she’s portrayed as an older woman. This makes her unique among the typical youngsters working with Spider-Man.

Madame Web in Marvel Comics

Madame Web originally appeared in Marvel Comics as a Spider-Man ally, first showing up in Amazing Spider-Man #210 in August 1980.

In the comics, she works with Peter Parker multiple times, even learning his identity at one point. They first met when Spider-Man was trying to uncover the plot of an attack on the Daily Globe. He had seen an ad for Madame Web’s psychic abilities and called on her to help solve the attack.

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Thanks to her precognition, she later acted as an oracle for Spider-Totem wielders, mentoring them and warning them of future dangers. She also has ties to Spider-Women like Julia Carpenter, Jessica Drew, Mattie Franklin, and her granddaughter, Charlotte Witter, having come across them all at different points.

If you’re looking to read some storylines with her in them, we recommend Spider-Man: The Gathering of Five and Spider-Woman #1-8 (1999). Just keep in mind that she’s a supporting character, so there aren’t any stories that place her front and center.

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Madame Web in the Marvel movie explained

In the Madame Web movie, Dakota Johnson stars as Cassandra Webb, a paramedic whose psychic powers lead her to a dark mystery involving superpowered teenage girls.

Considering the difference in appearance to the comics, Johnson’s portrayal is clearly a young version of the character who is coming to terms with her powers.

When the Madame Web trailer was finally released, we found out the film’s plot: when she sees visions of a future where three connected young Spider-Women are being hunted by what seems to be an evil Spider-Man (Ezekiel Sims), the group bands together to solve the mystery and protect each other. We’re not clairvoyant, but we see the vision.

Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb in Madame Web

Madame Web’s powers and abilities explained

Known for her psychic capabilities, Madame Web can see visions of the future.

While she’s not one to get in a fistfight, Madame Web is an incredibly useful ally to have. She can warn Marvel characters of coming dangers and see the threads of fate come together thanks to her clairvoyance and ability to astral project.

In the comics, she was granted immortality for a short time in the Gathering of Five ceremony — a ritual that gifts participants boons or death.

Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb in Madame Web

Madame Web’s powers:

  • Telepathy
  • Astral projection
  • Psychic surgery
  • Clairvoyance
  • Precognition

Get up to speed with Sony’s canon with our guide to the Spider-Man movies in order (although, honestly, we prefer skipping to the best movies in the list and skipping the stinkers).

Or, see what new movies are coming up in Spider-Man 4 and Venom 3. You can also read our other explainers on Spidey characters like Doctor Octopus and Green Goblin if you’d like.