Who Is ‘Madame Web’s Villain Ezekiel Sims in Marvel Comics?

Movies


The Big Picture

  • Tahar Rahim plays Ezekiel Sims, the villain in
    Madame Web
    . He has the power of premonition and wants to stop a group of young women from acquiring their Spider-Women powers.
  • Ezekiel Sims in the comics is a complex character who connects Spider-Man to other counterparts across dimensions and has super strength, agility, durability, stickiness, and premonition.
  • While the film takes inspiration from a different storyline, its version of Ezekiel somewhat aligns with his comic book origins, hinting at a potential live-action arc exploring the spider-totems.


Madame Web, the latest entry in Sony’s Spidey-adjacent slate of films, is set to bring a slew of Marvel characters to live-action for the first time. Directed by S. J. Clarkson, Madame Web joins the likes of Venom, Morbius, and the upcoming Kraven the Hunter in the world of Spider-Verse films sans Spider-Man (for now). Dakota Johnson plays the titular role of Cassandra Web, a clairvoyant paramedic struggling to get a grip on her newfound psychic abilities to prevent a grim future. What do we know about the film’s villain, though?


Tahar Rahim plays Ezekiel Sims, a man with the power of premonition, bent on stopping a group of young women before they acquire their Spider-Women powers. He’s able to foresee his death and seems to be willing to do whatever it takes to change his fate. In the comics, Madame Web goes by the same name and possesses a similar set of mystical powers, but her best-known form is presented as a blind elderly woman bound to a web-like life support system. In the same vein, Ezekiel Sims takes a much different form in the comics than what we’ve seen from Madame Web thus far. Ezekiel is one of the Spider-Verse’s most peculiar characters. Let’s get into his origins and figure out exactly who Ezekiel Sims is.


Madame Web

Cassandra Webb is a New York City paramedic who starts to show signs of clairvoyance. Forced to confront revelations about her past, she must protect three young women from a mysterious adversary who wants them dead.

Release Date
February 14, 2024


Who Is Ezekiel Sims in Marvel Comics?

Ezekiel Sims first appeared in 2001 in Marvel Comics’ The Amazing Spider-Man vol. 2 #30. At his core, Ezekiel opened up the Spider-Verse to some of its fullest potential, connecting Spider-Man to his counterparts, both friend and foe, across dimensions. When we meet him, he’s a relatively older man, a wealthy businessperson who (like a lot of Spider-Man’s circle) runs a well-off corporation. Years prior, he participated in some kind of mysterious ritual that granted him his powers (which we’ll dive into in a moment). After the ritual, Ezekiel became aware of the spider-totems, which was a mystical connection between the spirit of a spider and that of the person wielding their abilities. This would open the door to ongoing lore surrounding a wider set of animal totems and the various villains and heroes connected to them.


With the help of his corporation and his financial advantage, Ezekiel discovered Spider-Man’s true identity as Peter Parker. Ezekiel believed that Peter’s encounter with the radioactive spider wasn’t an event of mere chance, but rather a moment of spiritual connection between Peter and the spider-totem, in which the spider deliberately passed its powers to Peter before it was killed by the radiation.

What Are Ezekiel Sims’ Powers?

A grey-haired Ezekiel Sims in artwork from Marvel Comics. 
Image via Marvel Comics


If the costume the Madame Web movie has given Ezekiel isn’t enough of an indication, Ezekiel Sims’ power set is incredibly similar to that of Spider-Man. His abilities, acquired through the aforementioned ritualistic means, include super strength, agility, durability, and even a form of stickiness, which allows him to adhere to surfaces like Spidey.


Ezekiel also bore a gift of premonition, which rivaled that of Peter’s Spidey-sense, although his gift was more vaguely about incoming threats than it was a fine-tuned warning system like Peter’s. Ezekiel, like Madame Web, had a physical form that defied time. Although his hair was gray and his figure was not that of a young man, he was much older than his appearance let on. In addition to his super abilities, Ezekiel Sims used his fortune and his incredible wit to accomplish impressive feats, uncovering knowledge of the supernatural world that would frequently give him an advantage.

Ezekiel Sims Is Usually Spider-Man’s Ally

Ezekiel Sims and Spider-Man hanging off a wall in Marvel Comics
Image via Marvel Comics


In the comics, Ezekiel is one of the good guys! (…for the most part.) He certainly tends to have selfish intentions, but he’s usually forthcoming and rarely seems to cause pain beyond necessity. The Amazing Spider-Man #506, “The Book of Ezekiel: Chapter One,” presented what is arguably the best depiction of Ezekiel Sims. It gives a human look at Ezekiel and, while fleshing out the near-friendship between Ezekiel and Spider-Man, allows Peter Parker to show a side of himself that was rarely seen in the comics. Because Ezekiel is one of the few to know Spider-Man’s true identity, he’s able to join Peter and Mary-Jane (who, by this time, is Peter’s wife) at their home, and the group share a casual and incredibly fun-to-read evening.


In The Amazing-Spider-Man #507, Ezekiel brings Spider-Man to the temple where he gained his powers, intending to summon a giant spider that would take Peter as a sacrifice. You see, being a part of the hierarchy of totems, Ezekiel was constantly pursued by ill-willed supernatural beings that fed on members of this mystical food chain. He believed that, if he were to offer Peter as a sacrifice, the order would lose interest in hunting Ezekiel. Recognizing his selfishness, Ezekiel admitted to himself that Peter was a force for good, constantly using his abilities to help others, and Ezekiel confronted the giant spider to sacrifice himself instead.


Related

Who Are the Spider-Women in Marvel Comics?

‘Madame Web,’ which stars Sydney Sweeney, Dakota Johnson, and Celeste O’Connor, features more than one Spider-Woman.


More iterations of Ezekiel would appear in the comics going forward, sometimes as a reanimated version of his formerly deceased self and sometimes in rebooted storylines, and the surrounding narrative would continue to weave an interconnected web in the Spider-Verse. The idea of the totems offered a reason behind so many of Spider-Man’s foes being animal-related, though the truth of who represented a true totem was often in dispute. With Ezekiel’s later tales connecting to characters like Kraven the Hunter and Chameleon, it would be no surprise if Sony’s Spider-Man Universe used Ezekiel’s story as a binding thread going forward.

The Comics That Inspired ‘Madame Web’ Didn’t Include Ezekiel Sims


As mentioned at the start, Madame Web is going with a different take on its main character (visually, at least) but Cassandra Web has donned a youthful look in the comics. That particular story arc seems to be from where the film is taking its inspiration. However, its take on Ezekiel Sims doesn’t quite fall into place in the same way. That is to say, Ezekiel is not involved with the Marvel Comics story that largely inspired the film.


In 1999, Marvel Comics released Spider-Woman Vol. 3 #1. Madame Web gathered together three Spider-Women (Jessica Drew, Julia Carpenter, and Mattie Franklin) to fight her granddaughter (Charlotte Witter), who had become a Spider-Woman herself thanks to Doctor Octopus. He wanted to use Charlotte to defeat all other Spider-Women and, eventually, Spider-Man himself, but Madame Web and her team were able to stop her. There are some glaring similarities between Ezekiel Sims in the comics and the one in Madame Web. In a promotional featurette for the movie, Tahar Rahim discusses his character by revealing that he “seeks out a secret tribe in Peru who possess inhuman strength and health.”


In other previews, we learn that the film’s version of Ezekiel worked with Cassandra Web’s mother when she was studying spiders (and right before her death), which is an element of Sony’s creation, but the secret tribe aspect of Ezekiel’s origin at least somewhat aligns with his comic book lore. Rahim continued, “These powers…they allow him to see into the future, including his own death.” With the movie pitting him against Madame Web and her team of Spider-Women, Ezekiel takes on a villainous role, but, much like his Marvel Comics predecessor, he may open the door to a live-action arc depicting the spider-totems, broadening and connecting Sony’s Spider-Verse on a new level.


Madame Web is in theaters February 14 in the U.S.


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