While Tom Holland’s Spider-Man is still resting comfortably in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (though not nearly as much as before given how Spider-Man: No Way Home ended), Sony Pictures continues to build out its Spider-Man Universe in a separate reality. So far this franchise consists solely of two Venom movies, but in addition to Morbius arriving in April, there are plenty of other projects in development. One of those is Madame Web, and word’s come in that Fifty Shades actress Dakota Johnson is being lined up to bring the title role to life.
This revelation comes from Deadline, which reports that Dakota Johnson is in talks to star in the Madame Web movie. The outlet has also heard from its sources that because the original Madame Web from the comics is an elderly woman who’s hooked up to a life support system and doesn’t battle supervillains, this project with Johnson as its lead “could turn into something else.” Furthermore, it’s stated that because of the character’s psionic sensory powers, insiders see Madame Web as being “essentially Sony’s version of Doctor Strange.”
The original Madame Web, whose real name is Cassandra Webb, debuted in 1980’s The Amazing Spider-Man #210 as a mutant who is telepathic, clairvoyant and can see into the future, but also has myasthenia gravis, which is why she’s hooked up to the life support machine her husband designed. Webb is also the grandmother of Charlotte Witter, the fourth Spider-Woman, although unlike her predecessors, she was a supervillain. Cassandra was eventually killed by Sasha Kravinoff, Kraven the Hunter’s wife, during the “Grim Hunt” storyline.
Given Dakota Johnson’s age and the comments from the unnamed sources mentioned earlier, there’s a strong chance that the actress could be playing the second Madame Web, Julia Carpenter, instead. Making her first full appearance in 1984’s Secret Wars #7, Julia gained her special abilities after being injected with a mixture of spider venom and exotic plant extracts, and she subsequently became the second Spider-Woman and later took the code name Arachne. However, before Cassandra Webb was murdered, she transferred both her psionic powers and blindness to Julia. Despite now lacking sight, Julia is still a formidable opponent in the field thanks to her clairvoyance.
The Madame Web movie’s existence was revealed back in 2019 with the news that Morbius writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless were hired to pen the screenplay. Then in May 2020, S.J. Clarkson, who has directed episodes of TV shows like Dexter, Jessica Jones and Collateral, was brought aboard to helm a movie in Sony’s Spider-Man Universe that was believed to be Madame Web, and that has since been confirmed. Sony has reportedly made it a “top priority” to add a female-driven property into its superhero franchise, and with Dakota Johnson working out the arrangements to play Madame Web, it’s looking like this project will get off the ground before Olivia Wilde’s mysterious project, which could be about Spider-Woman.
We’ll keep you apprised on how Madame Web’s development is coming along, but for the Dakota Johnson fans out there, the actress most recently starred in The Lost Daughter, and her other upcoming movies include Am I Ok?, Cha Cha Real Smooth and Persuasion. In addition to Morbius being just a few months away, Sony’s Spider-Man Universe also has the Aaron Taylor Johnson-led Kraven the Hunter scheduled for January 13, 2023.
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