Both Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney have been thriving in 2022. The former made waves at Sundance with two buzzy indie films (Cha Cha Real Smooth and Am I OK?) and is set to play Anne Elliot in Netflix’s hotly anticipated adaptation of Persuasion, while the latter charmed critics with her barnstorming performance in the second season of Euphoria, which became the second most-watched show in HBO history after Game of Thrones. Now, the two actors are joining forces and— wait for it—entering Sony’s Marvel Cinematic Universe.
On February 3, Deadline reported that Johnson was in talks to star in the studio’s Madame Web movie, with the 32-year-old later confirming the news via Instagram. “Following the massive success of Spider-Man: No Way Home, Sony is looking to expand on its universe of Marvel characters,” the publication added, nodding to the blockbuster that has now grossed over $1.7 billion globally. “In the [Spider-Man] comics, Madame Web is depicted as an elderly woman with myasthenia gravis [an autoimmune disorder which causes muscle weakness] and thus was connected to a life support system that looked like a spider web. Due to her age and medical condition, Madame Web never actively fought any villains. For that reason, sources have stressed it’s possible the project could turn into something else.”
Then, on March 16, it emerged that Sweeney would be coming onboard too, in an as-yet-undisclosed part. Per Deadline, the 24-year-old “has quickly jumped to the top of every major studio list for young rising stars [and] sources say [she] had been weighing several offers in recent weeks, but the opportunity to join [Johnson] was too good to pass up.”
Whatever shape the film takes, Madame Web will certainly mark a milestone for Sony: It’s the studio’s first modern comic book adaptation to feature a woman in the title role. S.J. Clarkson—who is known for her work on Jessica Jones and The Defenders, and is also directing Netflix’s anthology series Anatomy of a Scandal*—*is poised to take the helm of the project. Meanwhile, Lost in Space’s Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless have penned the script. Plot details are scarce, but there’s plenty to draw from in the original comics. Introduced in The Amazing Spider-Man #210 published in November 1980, Madame Web is a telepathic, clairvoyant mutant who mentors Spider-Man as well as the various female iterations of the character who come after. Will Tom Holland’s Peter Parker make an appearance? Watch this space.