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The upcoming Madame Web movie raises plenty of questions. For example: Will it be able to overcome the dreaded comic book movie fatigue that plagued Marvel films in 2023? How long will Sony Pictures continue to make movies about Spider-Man characters without being able to include Spider-Man himself? Most importantly, in a movie that includes two different Spider-Women, why are neither of them the most popular incarnation of the character?
This is no shade to Julia Carpenter – changed to Julia Cornwall for the Madame Web film, for reasons as yet unknown – or Mattie Franklin, neither of whom have long histories in Marvel comics, but none of them is the best-known version of Spider-Woman. (Anya Corazon also appears in the movie, but she was known as Spider-Girl, not Spider-Woman.) The distinction of the most-famous Spider-Women goes to Jessica Drew, who was the first hero to use the title and gained more notoriety thanks to a show-stealing portrayal in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse, and Gwen Stacy, who has become so popular that Sony is eyeing a stand-alone animated film starring the character. Both of these Spider-Women are better known than the two we’re getting in Madame Web.
(Yes, we know that Gwen Stacy is more popularly known as Spider-Gwen, and has been gifted the awkward moniker of Ghost-Spider in subsequent appearances, but she was originally a Spider-Woman, albeit one in an alternate reality.)
We’re always excited when studios dig deep into comic book history to find more obscure characters to celebrate, but this feels like a massive, missed opportunity for Sony to capitalize on the success of their own film to boost the prospects of Madame Web. Using either Jessica Drew or Gwen Stacy would have given the movie an element of name recognition while still including the Spider-Women they already have to show their appreciation of the source material. It is a win-win situation.
There is already so much going against Madame Web when it hits cinemas on February 14. It is coming out after a year of superhero movies underperforming at the box office and centers around a little-known supporting character from Marvel's comics. Add in characters that don’t have much if any recognition among non-comic book fans and they are making their job of promoting the film that much harder.
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