Celeste O’Connor stars as Mattie Franklin in “Madame Web” (Photo Credit: Sony Publicity).

(“Madame Web” trailer courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment)

People that put mankind before themselves should be applauded in society, not violated.

Unfortunately, the world has never really been a place where good always triumphs over evil every time.

However, Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

The problem for Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson) is the moral universe and the Marvel universe are two totally different things and evil might become too strong for her to overcome, even when she discovers her true strengths.

And unfortunately for Johnson and the other stars of “Madame Web” like Mike Epps and Adam Scott, the Marvel film becomes weirder than the above comparison to King.

Nevertheless, “Madame Web” is not so weird that it is unwatchable.

It just does not have enough pizzazz to stand out in a crowded superhero movie genre.

In 1973, a very pregnant Constance (Kerry Bishe) disregards her medical state to travel to the Peruvian Amazon to search for a mythical spider with enormous potential to help all mankind.

The only person to accompany her on the trip is her colleague Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim).

To travel to the other end of the Earth with someone shows that a person truly trusts the other person or enjoys their company that much because being in a foreign country basically alone is a scary thought for many people.

If Constance had any apprehension of traveling to the Peruvian Amazon while expecting, it is quickly put to bed when she hits paydirt, capturing that elusive spider.

Although the spider could provide medical help for countless people, rumor has it that it has given the people of the region superpowers.

As a result, the spider falling into the wrong hands could pose a problem for those that want to use its purported powers to help their fellow man.

The wise man or woman that coined the phrase “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” must have had Constance from “Madame Web” in mind because the person she thought was a friend, or at least a colleague, is an undercover enemy willing to do anything to get his hands on that powerful spider.

Fast forward to 2003 New York City, and Constance’s baby girl Cassandra is a sarcastic, jerk of an EMT who does not even remember the lives that she saves while doing her job.

However, after one accident saving a life that could have turned tragic for all involved, Cassandra’s personality suddenly changes, and she feels a bit different.

Even her colleagues like Ben Parker (Scott) notice the sudden change in her personality.

Weird is a bit of an understatement to accurately describe Cassandra’s odd behavior.

In “Madame Web,” it is as if Cassandra can see the future or is just reliving the same moment over and over again like “Groundhog Day.”

Cassandra’s odd behavior can possibly be chalked up to her recent traumatic experience, right?

After all, the doctors say that everything is A-O.K. with her health wise.

But why can she see certain tragic events before they happen?

And if she can see tragedy before it strikes, can she stop some calamities from happening?

On the other hand, Ezekiel is beginning to see visions too.

However, his visions come to him while sleeping.

In “Madame Web,” Ezekiel has a vision that three young girls will kill him.

Therefore, he wants to make a preemptive strike on his future adversaries before they know he is coming for them.

In “Madame Web,” Cassandra begins having visions of three subway passengers meeting tragedy on their ride to their destination.

The question is can she harness her power of seeing the future into saving their lives?

Unfortunately for “Madame Web” the question is can Marvel muster up enough power for another origin story and franchise without becoming too stale?

For now, the answer is no.

That harsh assessment is of no fault to the actresses in “Madame Web.”

All the “young” ladies (Celeste O’Connor who plays Mattie Franklin, Isabela Merced who plays Anya Corazon and Sydney Sweeney who plays Julia Cornwall) shine with their youthful, teenage exuberance and “utter disdain” for their “elders.”

Apologies to Johnson for her exclusion in the “young” ladies category in “Madame Web.”

But many youngsters look at people 10-15 years their senior as old heads, no doubt about it.

However, it was nostalgic going back over 20 years in “Madame Web” with the Beyonce “Dangerously in Love” album promotion, especially since the Houston icon went old school with an actual television advertisement promoting new music during the recent Super Bowl.

Very few modern artists do that considering the popularity of social media, which was still in its infant stages in 2003 when the bulk of the Marvel movie takes place.

Nevertheless, nostalgia cannot always make up for a subpar and eccentric storyline with too much occasional corniness.

Despite the corny instances, “Madame Web” does represent something that will never get old in Hollywood and throughout the world and that is girl power.

With so many real-life female superheroes, it is good that Hollywood is keeping up with so many female superheroes.

However, real girl-power needs better than the average movie that is “Madame Web.”

Thankfully, Marvel has enough good stuff in the catalog and enough time to right the “Madame Web” ship, before it strays too far off course.

Mankind (just kidding) or Marvel fans are depending on it.

 

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Todd A. Smith
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