Madame Web Completely Wastes Its Biggest Spider-Man Universe Cameo

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This Madame Web article contains spoilers.

It’s a big year for Sony’s Spider-Man Universe. While Disney powers forward with Deadpool & Wolverine as its lone theatrical release for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Sony has three Spider-adjacent movies in the form of Kraven the Hunter, Venom 3, and Madame Web. Potential connections between the first two and the Marvel Cinematic Universe remain unclear, whereas Madame Web serves as an unconnected origin story for Dakota Johnson’s Cassandra Webb.

As the name suggests, it’s Cassandra who is at the center of the spandex-clad caper, although she’s not alone. Johnson is joined by Sydney Sweeney, Celeste O’Connor, and Isabela Merced as adaptations of various Spider-Woman and Spider-Girl personas, however, this isn’t the only tie to the wider Spider-Verse. Peter Parker himself doesn’t appear, although there’s another major Spidey connection that unfortunately feels completely wasted in the movie.

Family Ties

American Horror Story’s Emma Roberts has a brief but memorable role in Madame Web as Mary Parker. For those who aren’t up on their comics, Mary Parker is the mother of Peter Parker, who is murdered along with her husband. This leaves Peter in the care of Aunt May and Uncle Ben…and we all know how that ends. Madame Web is set in its own standalone universe during the year 2003 (although there are several continuity errors), meaning Peter hasn’t been born yet.

The various Spider-Man movies have largely focused on Peter’s relationship with Aunt May and Uncle Ben, but Mary and Peter’s father, Richard, had brief roles in the Andrew-Garfield-led The Amazing Spider-Man, but in Madame Web, we get to see a little more of Peter Parker’s mother. Mary makes a throwaway mention that Richard is away on business, while there’s a much bigger role for Adam Scott’s Ben Parker – confirming those long-held theories he’s a pre-uncle Uncle Ben. 

Although Mary is pregnant in the movie, for whatever reason, Madame Web never reveals the name of her unborn child despite there even being a “guess-the-name” sequence in the movie’s baby shower scene. Director SJ Clarkson warned us there’d be no post-credit scene, but not having Mary name her kid Peter in some final scene stinger feels like a missed opportunity to lean into the easter egg. If Madame Web is truly the standalone Clarkson hyped it as, it’s not like showing an infant Peter was going to mess with any timelines. We can’t help but feel Roberts’ role as Mary Parker would’ve worked as a fun pseudo-MCU connection, even if we aren’t technically in the MCU. 

There are also questions about why Madame Web is so specifically set in 2003, especially as it debunks several popular fan theories about how the movie co-exists within the larger multiverse of Spidey movies introduced in No Way Home. There were initially rumors that the Peter Parker of this world would be Andrew Garfield’s version, which is way off considering the timelines. Equally, the fact Spider-Man: Homecoming is set in 2016 makes it impossible for the unborn Peter of Madame Web to be the 15-year-old played by Tom Holland. The MCU and Sony movies have made a bit of a mess of its Spider-Man timelines, but even with some artistic license, things are annoyingly off by a fraction. 

But more importantly, despite the opportunity to really establish a Spider-Man character we’ve very rarely seen on screen, Mary Parker doesn’t participate in the movie in any meaningful way. Roberts’ character is essentially in the movie as an easter egg delivery system, despite having her own colorful backstory in the comics that involves her and Richard working as secret agents before their deaths. If the goal of Madame Web was to set up Spidey-adjacent characters who have their own stories to explore, and to popularize them with audiences so that they can stand on their own without Spider-Man, it’s odd not to build on Mary beyond the impending birth of Peter.

What a Tangled Web

Mary and Richard’s mystery baby isn’t the only dangling plot thread we’ll likely never get a resolution to. If you’re listening carefully, Madame Web teases their grim fate. After gaining her precognition, Webb jokes with Ben that he’ll have to get used to being an uncle. Given Cassie’s willingness to save the girls from Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim), it seems odd that she’s willing to let Mary die – especially as they interact during the movie and she knows Ben doesn’t want kids. It’s possible that in this standalone universe she could intervene further down the line to save the Parkers, leading to a work where Cassie and the girls suit up instead of Peter.

Of course, as an introduction to these new superheroes, Madame Web is shockingly a bit of a let down in terms of actual costumed superheroics. The trailers hyped the inclusion of Sweeney, O’Connor, and Merced in their spider suits, only for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance early on and a last-minute tease of potential future installments. Including a stinger about the Parkers’ fate, Ben’s destiny as Peter’s father figure, and a tease of Peter himself makes the intentions of the film all the more confusing.

With Johnson telling The Wrap there were “drastic” changes between the script she first read and the finished project, Madame Web’s disjointed story and the inclusion of the Parkers might’ve once made more sense. None of this really matters now, of course. Although Johnson suggested to ComicBook.com it would be “cool” to cross paths with Holland’s wall-crawling hero, she accepts that the movie is in its own Spider-Verse. 

Poor reviews from both critics and the fandom, which could lead to a bleak box office showing for the film, make it unlikely that Johnson will be at the top of the Avengers: Secret Wars wishlist anyway. Whether there were plans for these characters or not, we don’t need Cassie’s powers to predict this is likely the last time we’ll see Madame Web, her spider sisters, and a wasted Mary Parker on the big screen.

Madame Web is out in theaters now.

The post Madame Web Completely Wastes Its Biggest Spider-Man Universe Cameo appeared first on Den of Geek.

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