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Is Madame Web Blind?

Contains spoilers for "Madame Web"

Madame Web occupies an intriguing space within Spider-Man's continuity. She first appeared in 1980's "The Amazing Spider-Man #210" from writer Denny O'Neil and artist John Romita Jr. This version of her aesthetic is striking, as she is an elderly woman hooked up to a spiderweb-like life support system. She also has a condition called myasthenia gravis, which makes her blind. Above all else, she's a powerful entity with clairvoyance (the ability to see into the future).

This original version of Madame Web was blind, and that attribute tends to carry over into other storylines. A notable exception would be the 2024 "Madame Web" movie starring Dakota Johnson as the titular seer. She has vision throughout much of the film until the finale when a rogue firework strikes her in the face as she descends a body of water, blinding her. By the end of "Madame Web," the blindness is permanent, and she wears a visor over her face when the three future Spider-Women she protected come to visit her. 

As tends to be the case for any comic book character who spans decades, variations exist for Madame Web. One such event, known as the Gathering of the Five, saw her receive the gift of immortality, which came with the alleviation of her myasthenia gravis. While versions of Madame Web exist who can see, most people will likely always associate her with being blind.

Madame Web fulfills an age-old archetype

Madame Web tends to be a useful ally to Spider-Man, as she can help him with cases thanks to her power to see things other people can't. And she's not the first person within fiction to do this. In fact, the "Blind Seer" archetype is well-worn at this point, dating back to Greek mythology. In Homer's "Odyssey," Tiresias is a prophet blinded by the goddess Athena, who then grants him the power to gaze into the future. There's something inherently symbolic to have someone who can't see in a physical sense but is able to witness different things that others can't. Numerous books, TV shows, and movies have relied on this trope, so Madame Web follows in a grand tradition going back centuries of powerful blind clairvoyants.

Even though Madame Web has gone through several permutations, blindness is generally an integral component of her character even when someone other than Cassandra Webb assumes the mantle. In "The Amazing Spider-Man" #637, from Joe Kelly, Michael Lark, Marco Checchetto, Matt Southworth, Stefano Guadiano, and Matt Hollingsworth, Cassandra Webb is killed at the hands of Sasha Kravinoff. In one final act, she transfers her abilities, including her blindness, to Julia Carpenter, who then becomes the new Madame Web, showing how interconnected the character is with that trait.

If "Madame Web 2" ever happens, Dakota Johnson's character will likely be blind the entire time. It could wind up being a more comic-accurate portrayal of Cassandra Webb compared to the first movie (assuming a sequel even occurs at all).