Who is Madame Web? Spider-Man ally’s comics backstory explained

Madame Web as depicted in Marvel ComicsMarvel Comics

Madame Web will introduce a new version of the Spider-Man character to the big screen, but the original Marvel Comics character has some interesting baggage. 

The trailer for Madame Web has some stark differences from the comics. The upcoming SPUMC film introduces the titular Madame Web as a young heroine on the run with three other Spider-Women at her side. 

While the film’s depiction of Web’s psychic powers seems on point, just about everything else is widely different from the character. Most fans aren’t typically familiar with Madame Web, though, whose most prominent appearances were in 1994’s Spider-Man: The Animated Series. 

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Ahead of the film’s release, here’s a quick rundown of the Madame Web character and how her backstory relates to Spider-Man. 

The psychic who helped Spider-Man

Madame Web makes her debut in Amazing Spider-Man #210. Here, she’s portrayed as an elderly woman confined to a chair that functions as a massive life-support machine. Web has been blind since birth and suffers from myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune disorder in which antibodies attack muscle. 

Madame Web meets Spider-ManMarvel Comics
From her first appearance, the cold Madame Web managed to stay one step ahead of everyone.

Though confined to her chair, Web demonstrated remarkable psychic powers. She’s able to divine a bank robbery plot in her first appearance but proves her powers are legit by revealing she knows Spider-Man’s dual identity. 

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Finally facing death, Web would participate in Norman Osborn’s Gathering of the Five ritual. As a result of the ceremony, Web was granted some degree of immortality. 

Spider-Women & Madame Web’s immortality

When Web reappeared following the Gathering of the Five, she was much younger and no longer confined to her life support system. At the same time, Web’s granddaughter, Charlotte, was transformed into an evil Spider-Woman by Doctor Octopus. 

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Madame Web reveals she is aging againMarvel Comics
Despite receiving immortality, an upset to the balance of order led to Madame Web growing older again.

Madame Web would recruit the new Spider-Woman, Mattie Franklin, who had received powers in the Gathering ceremony, along with former Spider-Women Jessica Drew and Julia Carpenter. Together, they worked alongside Spider-Man to stop Doctor Octopus and Charlotte, a fight that ended with Mattie absorbing Charlotte’s powers.

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Though absorbing the powers made Mattie more powerful, it upset the balance of the Gathering of the Five. As a result, Web began aging again, though she was not nearly as aged as she was in her first appearances. 

The Death of Madame Web

Following the arrival of Ezekiel Sims, the Web of Life became a more prominent aspect of the Spider-Man books, with the clairvoyant Madame Web at its center. This became her undoing when the family of the late Kraven the Hunter sought to resurrect him. 

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Madame Web's deathMarvel Comics
Madame Web is killed for tricking the family of Kraven the Hunter, passing her powers on to Spider-Woman.

Madame Web was captured, drugged, and tortured, revealing the secrets of the spiders to them. This results in an experiment to sacrifice another Spider-Totem, with Mattie Franklin killed in a botched attempt to resurrect Kraven. 

With help from Peter’s clone Kaine Parker, Web would attempt to trick the Kravenoffs, sacrificing Kaine instead. She was killed for her part in the ruse, passing her powers on to the second Spider-Woman, Julia Carpenter. Carpenter adopted the Madame Web name and role and has maintained it ever since. 

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That’s all we have for now on Madame Web, but stick around for all our comic book news