At this point, it’s difficult to get too excited about the latest project from Hollywood’s superhero film assembly line. And yet, when we heard that Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney were teaming up for a mysterious Spider-man spin-off called Madame Web, we couldn’t help but be intrigued. We’d watch those women read the phone book together. Plus, they’ve both delivered iconic glares far more powerful and haunting than most CGI superpowers we see on screen (Sweeney’s was by the pool on The White Lotus; Johnson’s was directed toward Ellen Degeneres).
Still, the freshly released trailer for the S. J. Clarkson-directed film left us with more questions than answers. We get the general gist of it: Johnson plays an EMT who somehow attains the power of precognition, then somehow meets up with a pack of teen girls who also somehow have spider-like powers. We also definitively know what Madame Web’s mother was doing in the Amazon right before she dies (researching spiders). That, however, still leaves many, many details from the three-minute trailer that went unexplained. Perhaps people who obsessively read superhero film gossip sites already know these answers, but us? Well, unfortunately we are not gifted with that particular skill of precognition.
Why Is There a Circa 2003 Calvin Klein Underwear Ad in the Background?
Let’s just breeze past the fact that the first thing which stood out to us was the underwear ad, but this particular underwear ad actually opens up a whole new thread (pun only semi-intended) of questions we have about the film. You see, that’s not just any Calvin Klein underwear ad, that’s a Calvin Klein underwear ad starring Swedish soccer star (and former Arsenal interim head coach) Freddie Ljungberg. Ljundberg was one of CK’s contracted hunks between 2003 and 2007. Do you see where we’re going with this?
So Does This Movie Happens in the Early ’00s?
There are a few other details that point to this possibility, but it’s hard to really tell. While this is how teenage girls who shopped at Urban Outfitters in 2003 dressed, this is also exactly how teenage girls who shop at Urban Outfitters in 2023 dress.
Why Is This Man Barefoot on the Train?
He may appear to be the film’s big villain, but not wearing shoes on New York City public transit is evil beyond even Thanos’s comprehension.
Is Sydney Sweeney Supposed To Be a Nerd or a Hipster?
The styling of Sweeney’s characters falls into that uncanny valley of Hollywood costuming where we’re not sure whether her character is supposed to intentionally be a nerd or rather some (assumably mid ’00s) discerning hipster. Is this the death glare of a woman who is about to explain the Pythagorean theory to you or the importance of Neutral Milk Hotel’s landmark 1998 album In the Aeroplane Over the Sea? There is simply no way to tell.
Her character’s comic book backstory doesn’t help much, either. Julia Carpenter’s defining characteristic before she gains superpowers is that she’s a single mother, which does not appear to be the case here.
Does She Do the Cat Eye Every Time?
I mean, it looks amazing, but doesn’t it hold up the costume change process? Also, what happened to her glasses?
Who Is This Woman?
What’s her story? Does she get the respect she deserves at work? Does she have a good relationship with her daughter? Has life worked out in her favor? Is she happy? Will this brush with death while sitting on the Long Island Railroad change her life forever? Is she going to call her daughter and make up once she realizes that tomorrow is not promised?
Does the Line “He Was in the Amazon With My Mom When She Was Researching Spiders Right Before She Died” Actually Appear in This Movie? (And Will We Get It Out of Our Heads?)
This oddly delivered line somehow has the job of explaining half of the main character’s backstory—and the film’s entire emotional stakes. Was this edited together from other dialogue? Recorded in post? At this point it better be in the movie, because we cannot get it out of our heads.
Adam Scott, What Are You Doing Here?
The film’s official cast list includes a handful of relatively well-known actors (including Emma Roberts and Zosia Mamet) who do not appear in the trailer (presumably to avoid spoilers). Yet, Adam Scott, star of several beloved critically acclaimed television series, finally makes his superhero film debut here …as a wordless paramedic. Does he not deserve better?
Wait, Is This Just a Comic Book Version of Eyes of Laura Mars?
The 1978 cult classic Eyes of Laura Mars stars Faye Dunaway as a woman who inexplicably gains the power of precognition, then runs around New York City trying to stop her friends from being murdered. Is this not exactly what Dakota Johnson is doing here? It may be purely coincidental, but Madame Web’s mother (who, of course, was in the Amazon researching spiders right before she died) is sort of giving Faye Dunaway vibes here.
Where Is Dakota’s Superhero Suit?
If we’re paying money to see Dakota Johnson star in a superhero movie, we better see her suited up in an appropriate costume. And yet, there are no signs of any official Madame Web costume here. Johnson is wearing that burgundy coat throughout most of the trailer. It’s a great coat, but it’s not a costume.
Or is this going to be more of a Professor X thing, where she instructs a bunch of spandex-clad teenagers to do her bidding while she sits back in a nicely tailored normal outfit? Boo.
Watch the full trailer below. Maybe you can figure out the answers.