The first trailer for Madame Web introduced its villain as Ezekiel Sims. Clad in a dark version of the classic Spider-Man costume, he cut an imposing figure. He was also radically different from the Ezekiel Sims of the original Marvel comics.
Ezekiel Sims’ Origins
Created by J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr., Ezekiel Sims first appeared in 2001’s Amazing Spider-Man #30. He was presented as a man of mystery, who somehow had the same powers as Peter Parker. Ezekiel sought Peter out to warn him of Morlun, a vampiric predator who fed upon the life energy of people with animal powers.
Ezekiel challenged Peter’s perceptions of his powers, asking how he knew it was radiation that gave him his powers. He eventually revealed that his powers came from a bond with the spider god Anansi. Ezekiel believed that Peter had acquired the same bond and that radiation coincidentally infected the spider that delivered Anansi’s gifts.
Peter agreed to disagree, but did welcome Ezekiel Sims’ mentorship for a time. Much like the Madame Web of the comics, the older Spider-Man helped Peter face Morlun and other mystic enemies. However, Ezekiel had a hidden agenda.
Ezekiel was ultimately revealed to have stolen his powers. He saved Peter only to bond with him, so that Spider-Man would be punished instead of him. This came back to bite Ezekiel, however, as the ritual that bonded him to Peter caused him to absorb some of Peter’s heroic nature. He ultimately sacrificed himself to save Peter, paying the price for his treachery.
After his death, Ezekiel Sims was also revealed to be tied to the hero Silk. Ezekiel had found Cindy Moon shortly after she was bitten by the same spider that bit Peter Parker. He trained her in using her powers and hid her from Morlun in a special bunker for 13 years before Peter Parker found her.
Ezekiel Sims’ Powers and Abilities
Ezekiel Sims had all the basic powers of a standard Spider-person. While old age had weakened his body somewhat, he was still faster, stronger, and more durable than the average human. He could stick to any surface, wall-crawling like a spider.
Ezekiel also possessed his own “Spider-Sense” that warned him of approaching danger. This sense was notable in that it did not work on other Spider-people. However, he was likewise invisible to their Spider-Senses.
Ezekiel had no formal combat training, practicing an improvised combat style similar to the one Peter Parker used as Spider-Man. He was a gifted business man, who somehow used his powers to build a small fortune. He was also an expert on the occult, particularly in regards to Totemistic bonds and African religions.
Ezekiel Sims in Madame Web
Played by Tahar Rahim, the Ezekiel Sims of Madame Web is radically different from his comic book counterpart. Indeed, the only common ground they seem to share based on the trailer is being incredibly wealthy and having spider powers. The Ezekiel Sims of the Madame Web movie is overtly villainous and wears a costume. The Ezekiel Sims of the comics never wore a costume and was more subtle in his villainy.
It appears that the Madame Web movie is merging the characters of Morlun and Ezekiel Sims. At one point in the first trailer, Ezekiel seems to be draining the life out of Mattie Franklin with a touch. This was how Morlun fed in the same comics that introduced Ezekiel Sims. It should also be noted that Madame Web’s Ezekiel Sims seems to be long-lived, suggesting his vitality is dependent on draining the life force of Spider-people.
This apparent merging of Morlun and Ezekiel was also noted by J. Michael Straczynski on X (formerly Twitter). The characters’ creator was just as mystified by the decision as many fans, and quick to note he had nothing to do with the Madame Web movie. There is no apparent reason for the changes to the characters apart from the need to put the villain in a similar costume to Spider-Man for branding purposes.
Madame Web opens in theaters on February 14, 2024