A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Clearly stated messages of empowerment that are emphasized by the story: The power of your mind has infinite potential. No matter what path you're on, your future can always be changed. When you accept great responsibility, you will find great power. You are stronger and more capable than you know. To see the future clearly, you have to heal the past.
Positive Role Models
Cassie is a first responder whose strongest characteristic is her desire to save lives. When she realizes the lives of three teens are in danger, she does whatever it takes to protect them, demonstrating courage and integrity. By film's end, the four main characters are working together as a team. Ben is a caring and dependable friend.
Female-centered and empowering story from a female director and co-writers. Features a female superhero whose strength is her intuition. A pregnant scientist is intelligent and fearless. Three female teenagers who comprise the ensemble are depicted dealing with challenging circumstances: A wealthy Black teen feels the neglect of parents who are constantly away for work, a White teen is caught in the middle of her family's health crises and experiencing the neglect of a father who's started a new family, and the Latina daughter of an undocumented immigrant suffers from the harsh consequences of government policies. Additional Latino characters include a woman with a powerful government position and a male villain. Cassie and Ben's shift captain is Black. The movie is set in New York City, and background and supporting characters reflect the diversity of the location, representing a range of races and backgrounds.
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Violence & Scariness
Gunshots, including one to the head, with some blood. Stabbing. Intense action violence, including punches, kicks, and slamming bodies into hard objects. Fire. Explosions. Drowning. Strangling. Poisoning. Car accident with victims scraped up, but not gory. Intense peril. Cassie's mother died in childbirth.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Two people who just met are shown walking into an apartment together and then waking up in bed together in bra/underwear, under the sheets. Their hook-up sets the stage for violence, although the threat isn't sexual in nature. Teens flirt.
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Language includes "a--hole," 'bitch, "crazy ass," "goddammit," "s--t." "God" and "Jesus" used as exclamations. Middle-finger gesture.
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Products & Purchases
Clear product placement includes Pepsi-Cola and Calvin Klein.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Main character asks for a beer but is given a soda.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Madame Web is a stand-alone origin story that adds spider-women into the greater Marvel universe. It's also the fourth installment in growing the Sony Spider-Man Universe (SSU), following Venom, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and Morbius. Main character Cassie (Dakota Johnson) is a 30-year-old EMT whose spider-enhanced abilities don't give her super "powers," but rather a super mind. Once she realizes her visions are real, her first-responder training takes over, and she does whatever it takes to protect three vulnerable teen girls who are being stalked by a male killer. Violence isn't constant, but characters are shot dead, stabbed, strangled, poisoned, and in car accidents. There's some blood, but it's not gory. A nameless character is seen in a bra, in bed with a man she just met, and the situation becomes dangerous. Language includes "a--hole," "bitch," "s--t," "goddammit," and "Jesus" (as an exclamation). The plot is centered on young women finding their strength, but the movie has lots of encouraging messages that apply to everyone, including that no matter what your future looks like, it can always be changed. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Director S.J. Clarkson smoothly weaves four diverse female characters into the Spider-verse, but Madame Web ultimately lacks bite -- and credibility. On the plus side, Sony's parallel/independent Marvel Universe is doing well when it comes to superhero inclusivity. For parents of daughters, there can never be too many aspirational fierce female characters, and the ones here are all from different walks of life in terms of race, socio-economic class, and family status.
But will this web of positivity catch kids' attention, or will they fly right through it? Cassie's abilities become more and more far-fetched, effects that might read well on the page but are difficult to depict on screen without making audiences scoff. (Even in a fantasy feature, there are limits to suspending disbelief.) And at times, the dialogue calls attention to its lack of imagination as well, sometimes provoking unintended laughs. On the other hand, the writers have fun with the 2003 setting, an era that was particularly challenging for women. When the girls dance to Britney Spears, it's a wink to those who appreciate the symbolism of four women banding together to stop a "Toxic" man who puts his own needs over their own.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate