Critics have heavily criticized "Madame Web," the fourth installment in Sony's Spider-Man Universe, branding it a "tangled mess." Starring Dakota Johnson and Sydney Sweeney, the film's premise and acting have faced severe backlash, resulting in a slew of one-star reviews.

Based on Marvel Comics, the movie revolves around a paramedic with psychic powers linked to arachnids. Its trailer, which gained viral attention last year, was ridiculed for its uncertain tone.

In a scathing one-star review, Benjamin Lee from The Guardian described the film as "dumb and schlocky," citing poor visual effects, uninspiring action, and clumsy dialogue. Variety's Peter Debruge also criticized the film, deeming it "superfluous" in an already saturated market of arachnid-themed superheroes. He noted the titular character's vague abilities and lack of engaging storyline.

Sydney Sweeney, Isabela Merced, and Celeste O'Connor join Johnson in the cast.

In the Marvel comics, Madame Web is traditionally portrayed as an elderly blind woman with psychic abilities, primarily serving as a clairvoyant aid to Spider-Man. However, in the cinematic adaptation played by Dakota Johnson, Madame Web takes on a different persona, being depicted as an athletic Gen X ambulance driver, as highlighted by Variety.

Critics have harshly labeled the latest installment in the SSU franchise as "the Cats of superhero movies," drawing parallels to the widely criticized 2019 film adaptation of Andrew Lloyd-Webber's musical. David Fear of Rolling Stone goes a step further, describing Madame Web as "so much worse" than public perception and expressing a desire for the film's end credits to be a distant memory.

The Hollywood Reporter reflects on Madame Web as part of a recurring trend where studio executives unearth minor characters, surround them with hype, and leave audiences to dissect, defend, or dismiss the final product. The critical reception suggests a pattern of films falling short of expectations in this category.

Opinions on the acting performances in Madame Web vary among critics, creating a more nuanced conversation within the overall negative reception of the film.

Johnson 'does her best'

Critics had mixed opinions on Johnson's performance, with the Guardian calling her "ill-fitting" for the lead role, while IndieWire praised her efforts in a "retrograde Superhero" movie.

David Ehrlich highlighted Johnson's natural talent, acknowledging her ability to elevate certain scenes but also noted her struggle with moments that exposed the film's flaws.

The reception of Madame Web adds to a trend of negative reviews for Sony's superhero films, with 2022's Morbius receiving similar criticism as a "hopeless Marvel venture," according to the Telegraph.

Since the monumental success of Avengers: Endgame in 2019, superhero films have faced challenges at the box office. Recent releases like The Marvels and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania fell short of expectations, signaling a shift in audience reception towards superhero movies.