Martha “Mattie” Franklin is preparing to make her live-action debut in Madame Web. While the film will focus on a younger and more carefree version of Franklin, her comic book history is actually quite dark.

Franklin will be portrayed by Celeste O’Connor in Madame Web and will be one of three young women with ties to the Spider-Man family who team up with Cassandra Webb (Dakota Johnson). In the trailer, it appears these young women have yet to discover their superhero destinies when they first run into Webb. However, the clairvoyant Webb can see their futures and understands that the four of them are all linked and that their heroic destinies have attracted a villain named Ezekiel Sims.

Previously, Franklin made her feature film debut in Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. She can be glimpsed in a non-speaking role as one of the variants in the Spider-Society. Madame Web will give her a much more substantial role, though. Her role in the film is quite intriguing as, of all the members of the Spider-Man family, she has one of the darkest and most tragic comic book backstories.

Who is Mattie Franklin in Marvel Comics?

(Marvel Comics)

In Marvel Comics, Franklin is the niece of J. Jonah Jameson and the daughter of businessman Jerry Franklin. She used her father’s shady connections in the business world to gain powers for herself. One day, she happened to overhear a phone conversation between her father and Norman Osborne. Osborne invited Jerry to participate in the Gathering of Five—a ritual in which five participants offered up five ancient relics and were each blessed with a gift. Franklin stole her father’s spot in the ritual and was gifted with power. As a result, she gained superhuman speed, strength, durability, and the power of flight.

Although she didn’t initially have spider powers, she took up Spider-Man’s mantle after he temporarily disappeared. She also secretly harbored a massive crush on the hero. After Spider-Man’s return, while fighting Charlotte Witter, Franklin absorbs the powers of all three iterations of Spider-Woman—Witter, Jessica Drew, and Julia Carpenter. Hence, she also decides to take up the Spider-Woman mantle. Her spider powers were only temporary, though, and would later revert back to the other Spider-Women.

Unfortunately, Franklin’s story would take a dark turn. After becoming Spider-Woman, Franklin mysteriously disappeared for a time. Private investigator Jessica Jones took up her case and eventually found Franklin. However, upon her discovery, it was revealed that Franklin had been held captive by her boyfriend and kept in a drug-induced stupor so that he could use her unique genetic makeup to create a Mutant Growth Hormone. While she was rescued by Jones and went to live with Jameson and her aunt, she struggled to overcome her trauma, as well as the drug dependency she developed from her boyfriend’s abuse. This led her to give up the Spider-Woman mantle and become a private investigator.

When she returned to the superhero world, it would only be for a short time. During a mission to help Spider-Man, she was captured by Ana Kravinoff, Kraven the Hunter’s daughter, and tragically killed. In the moments before her death, she sent a final message to Spider-Man, letting him know she didn’t blame him for her death. As if one death wasn’t enough, Franklin was temporarily resurrected from the dead as a clone, whom the villain Jackal attempted to turn into a zombie. She heroically managed to fight her zombie instincts but sacrificed herself once again to save her uncle.

Who is Mattie Franklin in Madame Web?

(Sony Pictures Releasing)

As mentioned above, Madame Web will likely follow Franklin before the tragic turn in her story. In the film, she appears to be a young woman who hasn’t yet entered the superhero world. She’s also quite humorous as she challenges Webb’s claims of predicting the future by throwing a rock at her. However, the trailer eventually gives a glimpse of Franklin in a fairly comic book-accurate red and black suit with mechanic spider legs sprouting from its back. Hence, Franklin may gain or manifest her powers in the film, though it’s unclear if she’ll do so in the same manner as her comic book counterpart.

Even if Madame Web doesn’t go too deep into Franklin’s comic book history, it creates the potential for her to appear in the Sony Spider-Man Universe’s future. After all, a gritty Spider-Woman film that explores her unique powers and her stint as a private investigator with Jones could be quite interesting. Meanwhile, her connection to Jameson also creates the potential for the official SSU Jameson variant to appear.

(featured image: Marvel Comics)

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 While Mattie Franklin looks young and carefree in ‘Madame Web’s trailer, she has a tragic comic book history.  Read More