Madame Web director explains why she tweaked that iconic Spider-Man line for new Sony Marvel movie

 Dakota Johnson in Madame Web.
Dakota Johnson in Madame Web.
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*This article contains mild spoilers for Madame Web*

Madame Web director S. J. Clarkson has explained why she and co-writers Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, and Claire Parker altered an iconic Spider-Man line for the new movie.

In the Sony Marvel outing, titular hero Cassie Webb (Dakota Johnson) travels to Peru to learn more about her late mother, and why she was so desperate to find a rare breed of spider in the Amazon when she was heavily pregnant with her. There, Cassie is greeted by the man who helped birth her before her mum succumbed to a gunshot wound delivered by the film's villain Ezekiel Sims (Tahar Rahim).

After the man, who turns out to be a member of a mysterious group of native Spider-People called the Las Arañas, shows her what really happened back then through a vision, he claims her powers are more expansive than she has even imagined. "When you take on the responsibility, great power will come," he suggests, which webheads will quickly realize is a play on Spider-Man's "With great power comes great responsibility".

"We wanted to be honorable of the comics and where she came from," Clarkson tells GamesRadar+ and Total Film. "And I think that every hero has a moment where their mentor or someone important to them gives them a line which inspires them on the way and this felt like a nod to where she was from, while also making it hers."

While "With great power comes great responsibility" specifically comes from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man (2002), and was spoken by Peter Parker's Uncle Ben (Cliff Robertson), the line stems from the very first story comic writers Stan Lee and Steve Ditko every wrote about the webslinger – in Amazing Fantasy #15, which was published way back in 1962.

"And a lean, silent figure slowly fades into the gathering darkness, aware at last that in this world, with great power there must also come – great responsibility," a unnamed narrator, who is later revealed to be Uncle Ben, says.

The quote continues: "And so a legend is born and a new name is added to the roster of those who make the world of fantasy the most exciting realm of all!"

Madame Web is in cinemas now. If you've already seen it, check out all the upcoming superhero movies heading our way. Keep an eye out for a future episode of the Inside Total Film podcast to hear more from our chat with Clarkson, as well as our talks with actors Dakota Johnson and Tahar Rahim.