“I Will Never Do Anything Like It Again”

Madame Web was released on Valentine’s Day to overwhelmingly negative reviews and, as we write this, it ranks among the worst superhero movies ever made according to its 12% Rotten Tomatoes score. 

Its box office takings haven’t been any better and despite Kraven the Hunter and Venom 3 being on the horizon, it’s hard to imagine Madame Web‘s failings not pushing Sony to go back to the drawing board with its live-action Marvel offerings. 

Bustle recently caught up with lead star Dakota Johnson and asked if the past few weeks have been “weird” for her. 

“Yeah. I had the LA premiere for Madame Web and then went to Mexico City. I had pneumonia and was on steroids and the nebulizer and doing all these little things, and I was really, really sick and felt horrible. I looked horrible,” the actress says. “I was like, ‘Ugh.’ And then the movie came out and it was… [Pauses.] Like, I can’t take any of it seriously at all. I dunno.”

The site wondered whether it bothers her to see people write what they described as “nasty” reviews to which she replied, “Unfortunately, I’m not surprised that this has gone down the way it has.”

Johnson proceeded to suggest that the version of Madame Web we saw in theaters wasn’t the movie she signed up for and appeared to blame the studio for making decisions which alienated moviegoers. In fact, she addressed the movie’s failings head-on and confirmed this is likely it for her and superhero projects as “I don’t make sense in that world.”

“It’s so hard to get movies made, and in these big movies that get made — and it’s even starting to happen with the little ones, which is what’s really freaking me out — decisions are being made by committees, and art does not do well when it’s made by committee. Films are made by a filmmaker and a team of artists around them.”

“You cannot make art based on numbers and algorithms. My feeling has been for a long time that audiences are extremely smart, and executives have started to believe that they’re not. Audiences will always be able to sniff out bullsh*t. Even if films start to be made with AI, humans aren’t going to f*cking want to see those.”

“But it was definitely an experience for me to make that movie. I had never done anything like it before. I probably will never do anything like it again because I don’t make sense in that world. And I know that now. But sometimes in this industry, you sign on to something, and it’s one thing and then as you’re making it, it becomes a completely different thing, and you’re like, ‘Wait, what?'”

“But it was a real learning experience, and of course it’s not nice to be a part of something that’s ripped to shreds, but I can’t say that I don’t understand.”

We’ve heard rumblings that Madame Web once tied directly into Spider-Man (whether it was Andrew Garfield or Tom Holland’s respective Variants is unclear), but having watched the movie, it’s hard to believe there’s a version out there which is that different. Morbius, on the other hand, showed blatant signs of reshoots.

What we do know is Madame Web underwent many last-minute changes, with Claire Parker and SJ Clarkson rewriting Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless’ script and Lorenzo di Bonaventura randomly coming on board to produce in place of divisive Sony/Marvel exec Avi Arad. Perhaps Johnson was sold on a very different movie? Either way, she seems to be on board with the criticisms. 

Madame Web is now playing in theaters.