Madame Web: Is Las Arañas Based on a Real Peruvian Tribe?

Sony’s ‘Madame Web,’ the film introducing the titular superhero Cassandra Webb, presents a standalone origin story that remains intertwined in a network of the past and the future. Cassie, a paramedic in New York, undergoes a heart-stopping accident that unlocks her hidden powers of clairvoyance. As a result, she learns about the fatal threat to three unconnected young girls, Julia Cornwall, Anya Corazón, and Mattie Franklin’s future, and attempts to save their lives. Nevertheless, in order to do so, the woman must first unlock secrets of her own past to learn the full potential of her powers.

Cassie’s quest for the truth about her past led her to the deep Amazonian forests in Peru, where her paths cross with Santiago, leader of the secretive tribe, Las Arañas. Consequently, as the narrative depicts and explores the folklore behind the Peruvian tribe, fans must be compelled to wonder about its relationship to reality. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Las Arañas: A Fictionalized Tribe

Within ‘Madame Web’s’ Marvel comic book-inspired narrative, Las Arañas, the Peruvian tribe remains confined to the film’s fabrication. Consequently, the tribe lacks a basis in both real life and the comic book franchise that paves the way for the film. Instead, the tribe’s fictional origins can be credited to the numerous screenwriters who worked on the film during its development.

Within the film, the tribe exists as a covert sect within Peru’s Amazon forest, shrouded in mythology and folktales. According to legends, the tribe members, known as Spider-people, possess superhuman powers, such as strength and agility— extracted from the abilities of a rare spider native to the surrounding forests. Etymologically, the name seems to be derived from the Spanish word for spiders, “arañas.” Thus, the tribe name can be directly translated into “The Spider.”

Interestingly enough, Araña is also the superhero alias for one of the characters introduced in the film, Anya Corazón. In the comics, Anya chooses Araña as an alias for herself, choosing to associate herself with her mother’s maiden name to honor her. Even though Anya never comes into her full superhero potential in the film, the detail still presents a possible reference to the source material. Nevertheless, since Anya’s character has almost no connections to the tribe, the same seems unlikely. Instead, the tribe could be a reference to Julia Cornwall’s backstory in the comic books, wherein she inherits her powers from spiders from Peruvian Amazon forests.

On the other hand, Cassie’s on-screen storyline remains intertwined with Las Arañas and their leader, who play instrumental roles in the origin story of her clairvoyant powers. After Cassie’s mother learned about her unborn daughter’s genetic neuromuscular disorder with slim life expectancy rates, she traveled to the Amazon forests to find the rare spider species with healing properties.

Consequently, after the mother’s life was endangered in the same venture, Santiago helped the dying woman give birth through a spider bite that ended up curing Cassie and bestowing her with her superpowers. While the backstory remains a pivotal point within the film’s narrative, it holds no basis in Cassandra Web’s origin story within the comics. Likewise, the idea of a Peruvian tribe centering around a rare spider species has no relevance to reality. Therefore, without any basis in either the real world or the Marvel comics, Las Araña remains confined to the fictitious narrative of ‘Madame Web.’

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