Dakota Johnson is reportedly in talks to star in Sony Pictures' first Marvel movie centering on a female character in the Spider-Man universe, but it's not who anyone may have expected. Instead of playing a character like Black Cat or even Spider-Woman, Sony wants to cast her as Madame Web. Although Sony only has screen rights to Spider-Man-related characters, the studio has found surprising success lately with the Venom movies and its collaborations with Disney's Marvel Studios to bring Spidey to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Madame Web movie will be directed by S.J. Clarkson, who helmed episodes of Netflix's Marvel shows Jessica Jones and The Defenders, reports Deadline. Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, who just worked with Sony on Morbius, are writing the screenplay. insiders told Deadline Madame Web could be considered "Sony's version of Doctor Strange" because of her psychic powers.
Madame Web was introduced in a 1980 issue of The Amazing Spider-Man and was created by Denny O'Neil and John Romita Jr. She is usually depicted as an elderly woman with myasthenia gravis, and connected to a life support system usually drawn as a spiderweb. The character never fought villains herself, so the movie might have to make some changes. Johnson could play Julia Carpenter, a much younger character who later became the second Madame Web after the first Madame Web transferred the powers to her.
Sony's Spider-Man movie universe has rapidly expanded since the studio began working with Marvel Studios on the Tom Holland Spider-Man movies. Venom and its follow-up, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, were both huge hits, and Spider-Man: No Way Home has already grossed over $1.7 billion worldwide in the middle of a pandemic. Morbius with Jared Leto is up next and opens on April 1.
Madame Web isn't the first time Sony has toyed with the idea of making a Spider-Man universe movie focused on a female character. Felicity Jones was introduced as Black Cat/Felicia Hardy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014), with plans to make her a prominent character in future movies, but that never came to fruition. Sony also developed Silver & Black, a movie featuring Black Cat and Silver Sable, for years, but that project was canceled. At one point, Sony was considering making two separate movies with these characters, but that never happened either. Filmmaker Gina Prince-Bythewood told The Hollywood Reporter in April 2020 she still hoped she could make Silver & Black someday in the future.
Johnson recently starred opposite Olivia Colman in Netflix's The Lost Daughter, which was directed by Maggie Gyllenhaal. She also starred in two Sundance movies, Cha Cha Real Smooth and Am I OK?. Her biggest blockbuster role so far was as Anastasia Steele in the Fifty Shades of Grey movies.