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Spider-Man just got an origin update from an unexpected source

Is Madame Web secretly a Spider-Man origin movie? A little bit.

Madame Web
Image credit: Sony/Columbia Pictures

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Warning: Spoilers ahead for Madame Web!
Madame Web
Image credit: Sony/Columbia Pictures

If you think that Sony’s Spider-Man spin-off films could use a bit more…well…Spider-Man, then do we have good news for you. Madame Web actually has Spider-Man in it. However, Peter Parker doesn’t don his iconic costume. And his only dialogue is unintelligible screaming and crying. And he’s almost completely bald.

Before you begin to question Sony’s choices, I should mention that Peter Parker is a newborn in this film. The future Spider-Man is born during Madame Web’s final act, amidst a battle between multiple Spider-People.

So, what does Madame Web change about Peter Parker’s birth and his family backstory?

Let’s start with Uncle Ben. Yes, as many people theorized, Adam Scott is playing Ben Parker. Scott’s Uncle Ben is a war veteran who has recently returned to the United States and now works as a paramedic. The film is set in 2003, so we can assume that Ben fought in Afghanistan. At one point he reminisces about all the gunfire he dodged during the war.

(It’s kind of wild to think that Uncle Ben fought in a warzone overseas and dodged multiple bullets, only to be killed by a random burglar sometime in the future.)

Anyway, Ben is best friends with Dakota Johnson’s Cassie Webb, the protagonist of our film. At one point Ben tells Cassie that he’s met someone special, and her response indicates that Ben meets “someone special” on a regular basis. (That’s right folks, apparently this Uncle Ben has a healthy sex life.)

Ben tells Cassie that this one is different. We never get a name, but the implication is that he’s talking about May Reilly, the future Aunt May. (Remember, this is 2003, so it’s possible they saw Kangaroo Jack for their first date.)

Madame Web
Image credit: Sony/Columbia Pictures

At one point in the movie, Ben has Cassie tag along to his sister-in-law Mary’s baby shower. If you’re familiar with Spider-Man lore, then you know that Mary Parker is Peter Parker’s mom, and the bump in her belly is going to grow up to become a spandexed hero (and the face of many memes). Emma Roberts plays Mama Spider-Man, and but we don’t see Richard Parker anywhere. We’re told he’s on a business trip.

The baby shower includes a game where the guests have to guess the name of the baby. However, Ben interrupts before Mary can reveal the kid’s name. Is this supposed to build our anticipation?

The main plot of the film revolves around Cassie stopping a villain named Ezekiel from killing three teenage girls named Anya, Mattie, and Julia. At one point Cassie goes to South America to investigate her powers, leaving the three girls in the care of Mary and Ben. Mary’s water breaks, so the group head to the hospital, with Ezekiel in hot pursuit. So yes, Spider-Man’s birth is happening during a battle between Ezekiel, and a group of characters who would become Spider-Woman (Julia and Mattie), Spider-Girl (Anya), and Madame Web (Cassie).

After a brief scuffle on the streets of Queens, Ben is able to get Mary safely away, leaving the remainder of her labor to take place offscreen. I kept on waiting for Ezekiel or Cassie to do something that would alter the genetics of Mary’s baby (setting up his future spider-powers), but the movie didn’t take that bait. After the final battle with Ezekiel, we catch up with Mary, who has given birth to a beautiful baby boy. I didn’t see the baby’s name in the credits, but years from now they’ll be able to brag to their friends that they played Spider-Man. (Boy, won’t their friends be disappointed when they learn that it was in Madame Web.)

We still aren’t told the baby’s name, which almost makes me wonder if there is some secret clause in the Sony/Marvel agreement about using a live-action Peter Parker outside of MCU projects. Maybe that’s a bit conspiratorial….maybe.

Oh, and we also get a weird origin for the phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Cassie is told a variation of the line when she goes to South America to learn about her powers from the spider-people (I just typed that). We get a callback to this in the epilogue after Peter Parker’s birth. Anya, Julia, and Mattie tell Cassie that Ben loves being an uncle because he has all the fun without the responsibility. Cassie then smiles and says, “That’s what he thinks.”

This is weird for two reasons.

One, it implies that Cassie will one day tell Uncle Ben the line, who will one day tell it to Peter. So, Peter got the proverb from South American spider-people, but he’ll never know.

Two, are we meant to assume that Cassie’s line is a reference to Ben being the one to raise Peter? Did Cassie see this when she looked into the future? If so, why is she smiling about Mary Parker’s upcoming death? Maybe don’t smile about that Cassie.

Madame Web
Image credit: Sony/Columbia Pictures

By the way, you might be wondering if this Peter Parker will grow up to become Tom Holland, Andrew Garfield, or Tobey Maguire. Since this movie is set in 2003, I’m going to say none of them. It’s possible that he’s the Spider-Man who exists in Earth-688, the world where Sony’s Spider-Man spin-offs (Venom and Morbius) take place. Morbius director Daniel Espinosa confirmed that a Spider-Man exists in this universe, and that we would be meeting him “soon.” Perhaps this is where we met him.

So, what does Madame Web change about Spider-Man’s backstory? Let’s recap…

  • Uncle Ben went to Afghanistan and then returned to the states to meet Aunt May.
  • Spider-Man was born during a villain fight between Ezekiel and some future Spider-Women.
  • Madame Web probably could have stopped Peter Parker’s parents from dying, but for some reason didn’t feel like it.
  • Peter Parker’s iconic catchphrase comes from South American spider-people.

Man, Madame Web was wild.

An advanced screening of Madame Web was provided ahead of release by Sony.

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About the Author
Joshua Lapin-Bertone avatar

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Contributing writer

Joshua is a pop culture writer specializing in comic book media. His work has appeared on the official DC Comics website, the DC Universe subscription service, HBO Max promotional videos, the Batman Universe fansite, and more. In between traveling around the country to cover various comic conventions, Joshua resides in Florida where he binges superhero television and reads obscure comics from yesteryear.