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For the past month, Boston has been the epicenter of comic book fan attention thanks to the filming the upcoming Sony-Marvel movie “Madame Web.”
After getting a small taste of superhero movies last summer when Marvel crews spent a week filming “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” in Massachusetts, Sony’s “Madame Web” became the first superhero film to base primary production in the Bay State. Crews kicked off filming in downtown Boston on July 11, transforming a section of the Financial District into early-2000s New York City.
In the comics, Madame Web is depicted in several different ways. But all versions of her are a blind woman who has powers similar to Spider-Man as well as psychic powers that go beyond Peter Parker’s “Spidey Sense.”
“Madame Web” is part of Sony’s Spider-Man Universe, which runs in conjunction with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and features films like “Venom,” “Morbius,” and the upcoming “Kraven the Hunter.” The recent “Spider-Man” trilogy starring Tom Holland as the web-slinger was a collaboration between Sony and Marvel Studios, while the other films are handled exclusively by Sony.
If the fan excitement online is any indication, Sony will have a hit on its hands when “Madame Web” reaches theaters October 6, 2023. But despite hundreds of fan theories about the film’s cast, plot, and greater part of the Marvel-Sony Spiderverse, there is still much about the movie that is shrouded in mystery.
Here is everything we know right now about “Madame Web,” including filming locations, members of the cast, and fan rumors that may or may not hold water.
The cast of “Madame Web” is laden with both experienced and up-and-coming talent. It is headlined by “Fifty Shades of Grey” star Dakota Johnson in the titular role.
Also taking part are two of the hottest TV stars of the moment in Adam Scott (“Severance”) and Sydney Sweeney (“Euphoria,” “The White Lotus”). Both stars were nominated for two Primetime Emmys this summer for their work on the aforementioned shows.
Rounding out the cast are Emma Roberts (“We’re The Millers”), Celeste O’Connor (“Ghostbusters: Afterlife”), Isabela Merced (“Transformers: The Last Knight”), Mike Epps (“The Hangover”), Zosia Mamet (“Girls”), and Tahar Rahim (“The Mauritanian”).
So far, “Madame Web” filming has stayed close to the Boston area. During the first week of production, crews took to the Financial District to create a set resembling New York City’s Chinatown circa 2003.
Later in July, crews headed to Allston, where crews transformed the area around Kelton Street into an early 2000s New York City.
In August, paparazzi captured the first real action set piece of filming in Chelsea, where Johnson and Scott (dressed as paramedics) climbed into and out of an overturned sedan hanging perilously off a bridge.
Crews are also expected to visit Weymouth and film at the Hangout, a 33,000-square-foot former fighter-jet hangar that formerly housed South Weymouth Naval Air Station, per The Patriot Ledger.
Production on “Madame Web,” which began on July 11, is expected to last three months, according to a source familiar with the production.
Any superhero film in production is bound to fuel hundreds of fan theories, which range from semi-credible to ludicrous wishful thinking.
Even the smallest nuggets of information from set can send fandoms into overdrive. During the first week of production, Boston.com published set photos that revealed that “Madame Web” would take place in the early 2000s. In the days and weeks that followed, hundreds of Twitter accounts and nerd culture publications aggregated the photos, speculating that this was a sign that Sony would connect “Madame Web” to the original Sam Raimi “Spider-Man” film starring Tobey Maguire that was released in 2002.
All of that is a long way of saying that what we’re rounding up below is in no way verified by any on-set sources, unless indicated otherwise.
The most persistent guessing game among fans concerns which actors are playing which superheroes. On-set photos of Dakota Johnson in a red trench coat led fans to speculate that she would play Julia Carpenter, a younger version of Madame Web introduced by Marvel in 1984 with the same trademark look. Others, however, believed that it would be Sydney Sweeney playing the younger Madame Web, while Johnson would play Cassandra Webb, the original Madame Web introduced in 1980.
Other rumored (but entirely unconfirmed) castings included Emma Roberts playing Mary Parker (the mother of Peter Parker), Isabela Merced playing Anya Corazon (Spider-Girl), Celeste O’Connor playing Mattie Franklin (Spider-Woman), and Adam Scott playing Ben Parker (the uncle of Peter Parker).
The lengthy list of arachnid superheroes above feeds into the other rumor of the moment among Spider-Man fans, which concerns the film’s plot. Though this “plot leak” may turn out to be a load of malarkey, if you’re concerned at all about spoilers, stop reading here.
The rumored plot synopsis involves the heroes of the film protecting a pregnant Mary Parker from an unnamed villain who hopes to prevent Spider-Man (aka Peter Parker) from ever being born. As noted by fans, the plot rumor sounds a bit like “The Terminator,” in which a soldier travels back in time to protect a woman and her unborn child (a future resistance leader) from Arnold Schwarzeneger’s cyborg.
Although there is no indication that this rumored plot is true, fans have noted that Roberts’ character (who is rumored to play Parker) appears to be pregnant in set photos.
There is also some indication that a newborn baby may play a role in “Madame Web.” Two different Boston-based casting agencies have posted the same casting notice for newborn babies to appear in a “major” feature film, with filming on either August 29 or September 10.
One of the agencies, Kendall Cooper Casting, has handled all the extras casting for “Madame Web” up to this point. And at the moment, “Madame Web” is the only major feature film shooting in Boston. (The other big film productions in Massachusetts at the moment, “Invitation to a Bonfire” and “Julia,” are both TV shows.)
Again: The fact that a major feature film shooting in Boston is seeking newborn babies does not mean that the aforementioned plot rumor is true. But it’s fun to think about, isn’t it?
“Madame Web” is scheduled to hit theaters October 6, 2023. Originally, the film was slated for a July 6, 2023 release, but announced the October date change in July.
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