After severing ties with Marvel, Sony is forging ahead with its Universe of Marvel Characters. (Let’s just call it the Spider-Verse and move on, yes?). Word has come that the next spin-off character being developed for a feature film is the slightly obscure but fairly consequential Madame Web. Update September 27th: It looks like Sony and the MCU aren’t completely done after all. A new deal has just been brokered that will bring Tom Holland’s Spider-Man back for one more Marvel-produced Spidey film and another MCU crossover feature.
Madame Web was introduced in 1980 by writer Denny O’Neil and artist John Romita Jr. Born Cassandra Webb, the character is actually a mutant (a detail that will surely get written out) with precognitive powers tied to spider-based heroes. In addition to her ties with Peter Parker, she’s mentored and guided numerous generations of crimefighters using the Spider-Woman moniker. She also suffers from a chronic neuromuscular disease (myasthenia gravis, to be precise) that has left her blind and unable to move. As such, the old woman is connected to a life support system that, wouldn’t ya know it, resembles a spiderweb.
At first glance, an entire movie centered around Madame Web seems like a bit of a stretch, but Sony may have something up their sleeves here. The biggest hurdle the studio faces in disconnecting from Marvel is how to continue Tom Holland’s beloved incarnation of Spider-Man without the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse opened up the possibility of a multiverse for the animated side of things, but a clairvoyant character like Madame Web could open similar doors in live-action. Perhaps Sony will use her to help decouple their Spider-Man from the MCU?
It’s also possible Sazama and Sharpless could use a Madame Web film to introduce Julia Carpenter, the comics’ second Spider-Woman. In the books, she eventually takes over the role of Madame Web when Webb transfers her powers upon her impending death. That could easily be a central conflict in the film adaptation rather than focusing on an old invalid reliant on a giant machine for mobility.
Whatever they end up doing, it looks like Madame Web will follow Morbius (out July 31st, 2020) and Andy Serkis’ Venom 2 as the next Spider-Verse film. Productions like Nightwatch, Kraven the Hunter, and Silver & Black with Black Cat and Silver Sable have all seemingly stalled. Sony is also apparently working on two follow-ups to Spider-Man: Far from Home and a number of Into the Spider-Verse spin-offs.