For most people, Madame Web isn’t an instantly identifiable Spider-man character. And yet the trailer for the new Madame Web movie took the internet by storm. It helped to have some famous faces in there — Dakota Johnson as Cassandra Webb alongside Euphoria’s Sydney Sweeney as a Spider-person and Adam Scott as maybe Uncle Ben?? — but the real ticket was the way it so succinctly summed up the villain’s ridiculous backstory.
Ezekiel Simms (Tahar Rahim) might be some sort of evil Spider-Man, and he’s hunting down a bunch of young girls Cassandra takes under her wing. Simms might also be able to see the future? I don’t really know. What I do know, and what I could absolutely never forget, is the incredibly specific way Cassandra identifies him: “He was with my mom in the Amazon when she was researching spiders right before she died.”
The phrase, and specifically Johnson’s restrained reading of it, has taken the internet by storm. Once you’ve heard it, it lodges itself in your brain, with the indelible staying power one might associate with intense research — maybe even research conducted in the Amazon, about spiders, right before mom died. The way she intones it — stressing words like she’s starring in the parlor room reveal of a high school murder mystery play — is the stuff of legend. It has the mystique of a perfume commercial plot. It’s not unlike Nicole Kidman’s monologue on the virtues of going to the movie theater, with all its demure importance. And people responded accordingly, anointing it as an instantly iconic line in film, alongside some of the greats:
I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking where he was when I was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders right before she died pic.twitter.com/Ny8nD99x29
— em ~ goose’s #1 fan ⚡️✨ (@_EMMinem) November 16, 2023
I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders right before she died.. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die. pic.twitter.com/ydtbGDTg3v
— Wes Craven Presents Hans Lopez (@DJ_BadHombre) November 16, 2023
In a trailer hellbent on explaining most of the movie to us, “He was in the Amazon” stands out because of how succinctly it seems to capture the movie: Strange ADR that over-connects the bad guy to our hero, all delivered with a flatness amid a bunch of punchier scenes. Like some other lower-tier Spider-Man villain movies, Madame Web feels instantly memeable, thanks in part to Johnson’s own knack for being an internet meme:
Though, of course, she’s not the only meme format this Madame Web line is applicable to. Again I don’t know if you remember: He was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders right before she died. This is the stuff of memes young and old.
I am serious, he was in the Amazon with my mom when she was researching spiders right before she died… and don’t call me Shirley pic.twitter.com/wXYlxhFJTV
— Alex Lobo needs ☕️ ⚡️ (@GeekLawGrad) November 16, 2023
The movie itself may be great. It may be a disaster. But one thing we’ll never forget: He was in the Amazon. With my mom. When she was researching spiders, right before she died. That’s cinema, baby.