A Quick Guide to the Spider-Heroes and Villains in Madame Web’s Trailer

A Quick Guide to the Spider-Heroes and Villains in Madame Web’s Trailer

The first trailer for Sony’s Madame Web movie weaves a very peculiar tale out of an even more peculiar choice for the studio’s next Spider-Man spinoff film. But part of that peculiarity is in the host of Marvel Comics characters the film wants to bring to the big screen—and we’ve got a quick rundown on who’s who if you’re confused.

Dakota Johnson as Cassie Webb/Madame Web

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Comics

Our hero needs explaining too, simply because the Cassandra of the movie looks very different to the one seen in the comics. First introduced in 1980, Cassandra Webb was born blind, but gifted with vast psychic powers, including telepathy and clairvoyancy. A minor character first introduced as a would-be medium who helps Spider-Man foil a series of assassination attempts, Madame Web’s precognition is eventually revealed as being sourced from the Web of Life and Destiny, the interdimensional, transportive construct that binds the multiverse’s spider-heroes together.

Cassandra’s time as Madame Web comes to an end during the events of Grim Hunt in 2010, where, during an attempt by the Kravinoff family to resurrect Kraven, she is killed by Kraven’s wife Sasha—but she transfers her powers and mantle to another familiar face in the last moments of her life… one we’re about to introduce.

Sydney Sweeney as Julia Carpenter/Spider-Woman

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Comics

Julia Carpenter is the second hero to use the Spider-Woman mantle after Jessica Drew—who lost her powers briefly after a time-traveling scrap with Morgan Le Fey. Recruited by her friend and governmental girlboss Val Cooper—long-time frenemy of Marvel’s mutants and a generally shady federal agent over her long career—and the secret government group the Commission under the pretense of an athletic study, Julia was injected with a serum of spider venoms that gave her powers resembling those of Spider-Man. Almost immediately drafted into the events of Secret Wars, over her heroic career she’s been a member of Val and Mystique’s Freedom Force, Force Works, an ally of the West Coast Avengers, and like every good superhero has occasionally gone through a bit of depowering herself, before Getting Btter.

And yes, Julia is currently the Madame Web of the comics universe, having been given Cassandra’s powers during Grim Hunt. It’s actually her look as Madame Web that the movie’s version of Cassandra is largely inspired by.

Celeste O’Connor as Mattie Franklin/Spider-Woman

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Comics

Not a single Jessica Drew in sight here, but we’re onto our third Spider-Woman. Martha “Mattie” Franklin is the niece of J. Jonah Jameson, and first crossed paths with Cassandra Webb during the Gathering of the Five, a secretive ancient ritual meant to grant its participants promises of great power or immortality… or death. Mattie was given granted the gift of Power during the ritual, giving her superhuman strength and flight.

Obsessed with Spider-Man, she first impersonated him and then, with Jessica Drew’s blessings, took the Spider-Woman mantle when she, Julia, and Jessica were targeted by the fourth Spider-Woman (in this case more literally a Spider-Woman, the product of DNA manipulation by Doc Ock), Charlotte Witter, the granddaughter of Cassandra Webb. Mattie largely slid into obscurity after this storyline—briefly appearing in Alias as part of a sinister plot to harvest the drug Mutant Growth Hormone from her body—and then perished alongside Cassandra Webb during the events of Grim Hunt.

Isabela Merced as Anya Corazon/Spider-Girl

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Comics

Originally introduced under the codename Araña, Anya was granted mysterious powers and inducted by the Spider Society, an ancient group that worshipped the supernatural totemic animal spider gods that, in some form or another, the Spider-heroes of the multiverse are connected to as avatars (much more on this in a bit). Originally developing superhuman strength and agility alongside the power to manifest a protective exoskeleton, Anya was eventually depowered after renouncing her hunter abilities from the Spider Society, and in a brutal attack when Doomsday Man tore her exoskeleton off of her body, but was given Julia Carpenter’s old costume after she became Madame Web, and officially became Spider-Girl—originally a nickname from Jessica Drew that sticks.

Although Anya operated for a brief while as a powerless hero under the moniker, she gained spider-abilities during the events of Spider-Island, which transformed all of Manhattan into spider-powered people. But while everyone else affected is cured of their abilities at the end of the story, Anya retained her powers, turning her into a fully fledged spider-hero.

Tahar Rahim as Ezekiel Sims

Image: Sony Pictures/Marvel Comics

This is where things get properly weird with Madame Web. The version of Ezekiel we see in the movie—almost a serial killer Spider-Man with the costume to match—is radically different to the Sims introduced in the comics. We first meet Sims as an old man and wealthy businessman, with startlingly similar powers to Peter Parker. Revealing himself to Spider-Man after hiring several private detectives to help uncover his identity, Sims reveals that he gained his powers in a mysterious ritual—and that Peter’s abilities were not from the radioactive nature of the spider that bit him, but the supernatural manifestation of the Spider-Totems, ancient multiversal godlike beings largely meant to be behind the various animal-based superhumans of the cosmos. Instead of being a hero, Sims used his powers to become rich.

After helping Peter defeat the villainous Morlun—a vampiric creature who, alongside his family, travelled the multiverse feasting off spider-totems—Ezekiel eventually reveals that his own powers were “stolen” and that he was not the intended avatar of the spider gods, but Peter is, and was intending to sacrifice Peter to the entity known as the Gatekeeper so he could live on. After Peter almost perishes at the hands of the Gatekeeper, Ezekiel had a change of heart upon being shown visions of Peter’s life as a hero, connected by their spider-senses in a moment of panic as Peter prepared to die. Realising his selfishness, Sims sacrificed himself in Peter’s place, being devoured by the Gatekeeper to restore the totemic balance.

Posthumously Sims was also revealed to be responsible for hiding away Cindy Moon—the other person bitten by the same spider that bit Peter on that fateful day—for most of her life to safeguard her from Morlun’s attacks on totems. With her existence revealed to Peter in Original Sin, Cindy’s “release” and debut as the Spider-hero Silk sets the stage for the first Spider-Verse crossover. Considering Sony has cinematic plans for her in store, it wouldn’t be too out of place to see if Madame Web drops some hints that could lead to her eventual arrival.

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