Madame Web, Reviewed by the Spiders From Arachnophobia

A Note from the (Human) Editor: In these waning days of the superhero movie, we here in the Media Industrial Complex are faced with a choice: do we ignore the bad ones? Watch them to make fun of them? Try to sift for meaning like a prospector panning for gold in the wrong state? I’ve found that the best way is to find a reviewer, or reviewers, who might bring a fresh perspective to a stale genre. Or in this case, 8 perspectives each. This is why we asked two of the Venezuelan Spiders from Arachnophobia to watch Madame Web—the meme about Amazonian spiders was everyone’s favorite line in the ads, right? Surely they could tell us if the film at least got that right. I’ve done my best to translate the angry weaving I found in their webs—have you ever seen a photo of a spider on caffeine? Spiders enraged by Madame Web have even worse pensmanship. Silkship? Anyway, here’s what they had to say.

Spoilers ahead.

The General: This film started strong, but proved disappointing!

The Queen: The line, the famous line, the whole reason we went to the theater, wasn’t even in the stupid movie.

The General: There were hardly any spiders! We were promised adventures with our Peruvian comrades. False advertising!

The Queen: Madame Web drew us in immediately. A clumsy human is in the Amazon, taking a photograph of a beautiful web. She talks about wanting to find a particular spider, we assume to experiment on it. We were excited by this, because we know, from the famous line, that this woman is going to die in the Amazon. Who’s going to bite her? Will there be one bite, or many? Perhaps, as in our film, Arachnophobia, a spider will pretend to be dead to trick her, and embark on a series of global adventures.

The General: But no!

The Queen: None of those things! She finds the spider, captures it in a jar—

The General: Unlikely! Let’s just get that out of the way right now.

The Queen: —and returns to the other humans to celebrate. Then another human shoots her.

The General: You can see humans shoot each other anywhere! They do it all the time! I wanted spider bites!

The Queen: We waited for the movie to get good, but alas. The man who shot Madame Web’s mother goes back to New York City, where he puts the beautiful, beautiful spider in a giant tank, alone.

The General: This is basically a Saw movie for us. Do you understand that?

The Queen: Some humans who live in harmony with the spiders—

The General: You mean…LAS ARAÑAS. The totally real spider-people who have a magic pool that can see the future.

The Queen: Yes. Them. They help Madame Web’s mother. A spider bites her to give its venom to the baby. That’s how Madame Web becomes Madame Web, I guess.

The General: So there’s one bite, but it’s a nice one. And she never builds a web. We wanted to see more webs. It’s right there in her name.

The Queen: The baby grows up and becomes an ambulance doctor. She doesn’t study spiders. She knows nothing about spiders. The man who murdered her mother has visions of being murdered three young humans—

The General: We’re supposed to intuit that he’s using spider venom from his hostage. The monster.

The Queen: —and Madame Web protects them. This is where it got even more confusing. Do the three of them know each other already? They act like they do, but it’s unclear. Madame Web meets each of them before she starts helping them, and I think that’s supposed to mean something, but I don’t know what, and the movie never says. The visions she has are also confusing—there were many times that events seemed to happen, only to be revealed as visions of the future. It’s hard enough for me to feel an emotional investment in the activities of humans, but by halfway through the movie I no longer knew what was reality, and what was vision. The film came to feel like an unstable leaf in a rainstorm.

The General: I think they’re using “web” as a metaphor for the interconnectivity of all life. We wanted real webs.

The Queen: The man—I think he’d be called the villain, but how many good humans have you ever met?—is able to crawl on ceilings and inject people with venom. That’s the best part of the movie, but he only does it a few times.

The General: Did you think that was the best? I liked the second ambulance chase where Madame Web uses her doctor knowledge. And when she teaches the young humans how to restart a human heart. I like how invested humans get in that. “Breathe, dammit! Don’t die on me!”

[A Further Note from the (Human) Editor: One thing I’ll say the film got right: I moved to Queens in 2003, and the movie gets most of its fashion, billboards, and music cues right. Hip-hugging metal-studded leather belts? Excellent. Yeah Yeah Yeahs blasting on the ambulance’s radio? Fabulous. A terrible, early-2000s-comic-book-movie-style fight scene set to “Toxic”? Perfection. Thirtysomething Cassandra Webb travels to Peru and wears her flannel around her waist to tell us she was a grunge kid in high school? Nice touch. The movie also, and I’m shocked to be saying this, uses Queens well. There’s a high-speed ambulance ride down 31st Street under the elevated N/W track that I liked. They do things with the Pepsi-Cola sign on the East River that can only be described as visionary. Aside from that, though, I’m with the spiders.]

The General: If Cassandra Webb knows the Parkers why can’t they make that clear? Why don’t they say some of the people’s names? Does she know most of them are going to die? Why doesn’t she help them? Where were these four people with powers when Peter Parker began working as Spider-Man? Is this part of the MCU? I think the actors thought it was. And how can Madame Web go to Peru with no warning in the human year 2003? Wasn’t airplane travel still a problem because of that thing that the humans did right before that? And why was the movie of A Christmas Carol from the human year 1951 on television when it didn’t appear to be Christmas?

The Queen: How do you even know what A Christmas Carol is?

The General: I spent part of one winter in a tree the humans brought inside for Christmas. And then they didn’t take the tree back out for several of their weeks, and those movies aren’t on television when it isn’t Christmas. So why was it on the television in this movie, which does not take place at Christmas? Merely to provide a more famous character who is also shown the future?

The Queen: We probably shouldn’t have agreed to review this film. We expected a light comedy, like our own movie, not this inept horror.

The General: The captive is forgotten. Madame Web can use her powers to save three human children, yes, but no one takes the time to release the captive spider once its kidnapper is gone. What will happen when a new human moves into that apartment? A shoe? A book? A toilet flush? It’s too awful to think about. Not flaming nail gun awful, but…

The Queen: At least we got to lurk in a popcorn bucket and wait for human fingers.

The General: That was the best part of the movie.

The Queen: I think the message of the movie is “when you take on the responsibility great power will come” because they say that multiple times. It’s a good message, I suppose—when we take on the responsibility of laying an egg sac, the power of hundreds of our children will come and be unleashed upon the human world. Speaking of—

The General: Oh, yes, we should return to the theater and check on the children. icon-paragraph-end

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