Madame Web's Bad Reviews Explained: 6 Biggest Criticisms

The latest entry in Sony"s Spider-Man Universe is finally in theaters, and the reviews have quickly proven it is another critical disaster. But what have the biggest criticisms been and why is Madame Web so bad?
The movie arrived on Rotten Tomatoes with the worst critic rating yet for Sony"s Spider-Man Universe at 13% and didn"t land much better with fans at 51%. The CinemaScore - a rating determined by audience reactions straight out of the theater - was the second-lowest for a Marvel movie, matching the C+ seem from Morbius.
6 Things Wrong with Sony"s Madame WebWarning - The rest of this article contains major spoilers for Madame Web.
Madame Web"s Awful Dialogue Sony PicturesOne of the biggest criticisms in Madame Web"s bad reviews has come from the script, not just panning the story but also the dialogue. The dialogue between the movie"s female leads and the villain has been described by moviegoers across social media as cringe-worthy, unnatural, and generally awful.
The divisive dialogue has also led to criticisms from some regarding the leads" performances and their delivery of the lines. However, others have defended the acclaimed stars such as Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney, claiming they delivered the best acting they could with the script they were given.
One line of dialogue from the trailer didn"t make it into the final cut of Madame Web after becoming a viral meme and joke. It saw Cassandra Webb declare, “He was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders right before she died,” in reference to Ezekiel Sims" history with her mother in Peru.
A Bland & Uninteresting Story Sony PicturesGoing beyond the awful screenplay, the story for Madame Web has also been the subject of backlash, as many have struggled to get on board with the premise.
The premise of Madame Web protecting three future superheroes from certain death may sound intriguing at first. At least, that would be the case until one realizes that leads to a superhero tale without any actual superheroes and off that only minimal action that largely involves Ezekiel crawling after the group.
Then, right when the constant chase between Ezekiel and the girls is heating up, Madame Web pauses a return trip to Peru for Cassandra to learn more about her powers and history, conveniently just in time for the climactic battle.
On top of all the issues and flaws in the main storyline, the birth of Peter Parker becomes a B-lot in the movie that has no real reason to be there. Some have theorized the original premise of Madame Web saw Ezekiel Sims try to prevent the future Spider-Man from being born before the focus later shifted to the three girls.
Ezekiel Sims Is a Terrible Villain Sony PicturesOn top of the many issues with the story and dialogue, Madame Web"s main villain Ezekiel Sims, played by Tahar Rahim, has been criticized by fans as one of the worst antagonists in superhero movie history. It probably doesn"t help that his villain costume looks straight out of a low-budget fan film. 
His motivations in Madame Web are simple: to save his life from certain doom after seeing visions of himself being killed by the three Spider-Women. Years before the Sony flick’s events, he served as security to Cassandra Webb"s mother Constance during a research trip to Peru where he acquired his Spider-Man-esque powers.
And that is about all fans know about Ezekiel Sims, as Madame Web offered no such explanation of how he became so wealthy, acquired his Spider-Man-inspired suit, or why the Spider-Women are after him in this alternate future.
Not to mention, as Ezekiel is defeated by three powerless teenage girls and a newly-powered Madame Web, despite having seemingly had his Spider-Man abilities for many years, he becomes hard to take seriously as a real threat.
Where Are the Spider-Women? Sony PicturesThe story of Madame Web may revolve around Mattie Franklin, Anya Corazon, and Julia Cornwall as three future Spider-Women who will one day go on to take down Ezekiel Sims, but that is far from shown in the movie.
Despite being prominently featured in the trailers, posters, and other marketing, the three superhero suits, along with the girls using their powers, appear in Madame Web for a matter of seconds, and only in visions of the future.
Not only has this left many moviegoers feeling misled by the frustratingly misled marketing, but it left Madame Web almost devoid of action and lacking much of what is expected from the superhero genre.
In fact, across Madame Web, the three girls serve more as damsels in distress than real characters, as they contribute very little outside of electric-shocking Ezekiel through the ambulance and giving Cassandra CPR.
Frustrating Spider-Man Connections Sony PicturesMadame Web does have more wall-crawler connections than the rest of Sony"s Spider-Man Universe, but that isn"t usually a good thing. For one, the movie contains a sizable sub-plot about Ben Parker (Uncle Ben) and his sister Mary Parker"s imminent childbirth of the Spider-Man-to-be Peter Parker.
Despite these significant connections, they often come across as meaningless, excessive fan service. For example, the movie contains a guessing game over the baby"s name, although "Peter Parker" is never uttered in the two-hour runtime.
Not to mention, there are several vague references to Uncle Ben"s famous "with great power comes great responsibility" speech, including the line "and when you take on the responsibility, great power will come" in the movie"s climax.
Speaking of Ben, he alludes to having "met someone," teasing the relationship as being rather serious in a clear reference to Aunt May-to-be.
While fans have been begging to see Sony"s Spider-Man Universe finally bring the wall-crawler into play, the vague references combined with the large absence of the Spider-Women come across more as the studio winking at the audience than anything meaningful or relevant to the actual storyline.
Madame Web"s Other Production Problems Sony PicturesThe editing of Madame Web was been noted in many bad reviews, often calling the cuts between shots awkward, jarring, and botched. The CGI has also been pointed out by some reviewers, criticizing the aesthetics behind certain scenes. 
Many have pointed out how much of the dialogue from chief villain Ezekiel Sims was very noticeably added later with ADR. This refers to dialogue being recorded in a studio to replace what was captured on set, which is common practice in film and TV, but is typically far less noticeable than in Madame Web.
Why Is Madame Web So BadTo start with the story and script issues with Madame Web, the first place to consider is the writers, Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless. The writing pair has yet to have a movie marked as "Fresh" on Rotten Tomatoes, with their best rating going to the 51% score of 2017"s Power Rangers.
Not to mention, before Madame Web, the last flick written by Sazama and Sharpless was the previous entry in Sony"s Spider-Man Universe, Morbius, which faced similar backlash. With two critical disasters in a row, it"s tough to imagine the pair being called back for another superhero outing anytime soon.
Director S.J. Clarkson may have plenty of experience directing TV, including the Marvel series Jessica Jones and The Defenders, but this marked her first movie. This lack of experience in handling the big screen and theatrical-level budgets could also have contributed, at least on some level, to the movie"s struggles.
Many have questioned why Madame Web was even green-lit, as the movie follows a lesser-known Spider-Man-adjacent character whose powers and design (blind, paralyzed, and elderly woman) don"t exactly fit a typical superhero story.
Between the poor critical response, general lack of interest, and the track record of Sony"s Spider-Man Universe, Madame Web is bound to face major troubles at the box office. This has already been seen after it brought in just $6.1 million on its opening day domestically, far lower than Morbius" $17.3 million.
One can only wonder what yet another flop will mean for Sony"s decision-making when it comes to its Marvel projects. Will the studio reconsider bold upcoming projects such as Donald Glover"s Hypno-Hustler and the once-Bad Bunny-led El Muerto? Or will it stay the course and hope a better outcome with Kraven the Hunter and Venom 3 later this year can improve the dire situation?
Madame Web is playing now in theaters worldwide.


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