Critics are calling Marvel's newest movie a 'Chernobyl-level disaster'

Critics are calling Marvel's newest movie a 'Chernobyl-level disaster'
Madame Web characters standing on train platform
(L-R) Celeste O'Connor, Dakota Johnson, Isabela Merced and Sydney Sweeney in "Madame Web."Sony
  • "Madame Web" is being slammed by critics.

  • Despite being in the Spider-Man universe, the movie lacks significant references to the franchise.

  • One critic compared "Madame Web" to the poorly received 2019 adaptation of "Cats."

"Madame Web" is the latest Marvel IP to be released by Sony, which hit pay dirt with the Tom Holland "Spider-Man" franchise. Since then, it has released two "Venom" titles that split audiences and the forgettable "Morbius."

According to critics, "Madame Web," starring Dakota Johnson as a clairvoyant paramedic who tries to save the lives of three teens from a man with spider powers (no, not Peter Parker) is also a dud.

Here's a roundup of their reactions to the movie.

"Madame Web" opens in theaters on Wednesday.

It's 'airless,' 'hollow,' and lacks even the basic charm of an average movie

Despite casting stars like Dakota Johnson, Adam Scott, and Sydney Sweeney, critics found the movie to be lifeless.

The Hollywood Reporter's Lovia Gyarkye wrote that the movie "has as much energy as an employee subjected to an ice breaker during a corporate retreat. It is an airless and stilted endeavor."

Variety's Peter Debruge called it "a hollow Sony-made Spider-Man spinoff with none of the charm you expect from even the most basic superhero movie."

Madame Web's superpowers aren't that amazing

Dakota Johnson in a paramedic uniform
Dakota Johnson as Cassie Web in "Madame Webb."Jessica Kourkounis/Sony

Johnson plays Cassie Web, a paramedic who discovers she has psychic abilities. Seems like a pretty cool power to have, right? But critics felt the movie didn't really showcase them.

"Her powers prove pretty boring once the pattern establishes itself. The premonitions are freaky, like 'Final Destination' flashes, but Cassie's 'let's try that again' do-overs render each situation less interesting," wrote Variety's Debruge.

"Cassie's glimpses of the future could, in theory, make her an expert fighter, one who can see an opponent's blows arriving moments before they actually do. Instead, she crashes a few cars and sets a fireworks warehouse ablaze, only barely escaping calamity," wrote Vanity Fair's Richard Lawson.

There aren't many Spider-Man references — to its detriment

Madame Web characters coming out of the subway
"Madame Web."Jessica Kourkounis/Sony

Though "Madame Web" is set in the "Spider-Man" universe, this is truly a standalone movie.

"This film is an attempt to find some sort of kinship — at worst in the story, and at best at the box office — with other 'Spider-Man' films. There's even a bastardized version of the iconic responsibility quote strategically placed in there to hammer the point home. But at the end of the day, the only things these two franchises have in common is spiders," wrote The Wrap's Lex Briscuso.

"We have a film that is ostensibly connected to the Spider-Man universe, and yet seemingly unable to commit to tying itself directly to that lore," opined Vanity Fair's Lawson.

That infamous line isn't actually in the movie

Dakota Johnson looking at a spider web
Dakota Johnson in "Madame Web."Sony

If you wanted to check out "Madame Web" for the simple thrill of hearing Johnson's much-memed line from the trailer in context, you'll be disappointed.

"'He was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders just before she died' isn't actually a line that appears in the final cut of this movie, but it was only such a focal point in the trailer because it was delivered straight into the uncanny valley that forms when singular artists are forced to sell a product that's already gone bad," wrote IndieWire's David Ehrlich.

One critic called it the 'Cats' of superhero movies

Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney looking in shock
Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney in "Madame Web."Sony

So just how much did critics dislike "Madame Web"? One critic compared it to the disastrous 2019 big-screen adaptation of the beloved musical, "Cats."

"A genuine Chernobyl-level disaster that seems to get exponentially more radioactive as it goes along, this detour to one of the dustier corners of Marvel's content farm is a dead-end from start to finish. It is the 'Cats: The Movie' of superhero movies," wrote Rolling Stone's David Fear.

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