Who Is Marvel's Ezekiel Sims? Madame Web's Villain Explained 

By now, everyone knows that Ezekiel Sims "was in the Amazon with Cassie's (Dakota Johnson) mom when she was researching spiders right before she died," but is that all we really need to know about the man who seems to be a major "Madame Web" villain? The power of an instantly popular meme goes a long way, so even once Sony's new Spider-Man spinoff hits theaters and reveals more about Sims, I'm pretty sure some of us will still remember him as the guy who WITAWMMWSWRSRBSD (for short).

Outside of his mysterious Amazon-set origin story, though, who is Ezekiel Sims? Is he a villain, as he seems to be when he appears repeatedly in Cassies' life, seemingly terrorizing teens at a diner and showing up barefoot on a subway train (the real crime) to throw random passengers around? Or is there something else going on here? "Madame Web" seems to be going way off book from its source material, but we can still look to the Marvel Comics version of Ezekiel Sims for clues about what the dude's deal might be in the upcoming superhero flick.

He has a mysterious connection to Spider-Man
Sony Pictures Entertainment
Ezekiel Sims first appeared in "Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2" in 2001, and though his storyline ended by 2004, he returned again for 2015's "Silk" comic run. Originally created by J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr., Sims was a wealthy businessman who gained powers similar to those of Spider-Man in a spider-related ritual. He got his superpowers — which included strength and speed, the ability to crawl up surfaces, and a spidey sense of his own, but notably did not feature web-slinging — when he was young after asking a Peruvian priest to perform a rite giving him the power of the mythical Ghanian spider Anansi (per Marvel). Once he gained powers, his plan to be a hero ended up sidelined by his focus on accruing power and money. By the time Ezekiel reveals himself to Spider-Man, he's in his 50s.

Sims did take the time to figure out a piece of Spider-Man lore that Peter Parker had never previously understood, though. He hypothesized that Peter was actually a "totem," or a hero who gained his powers through a mystical connection with an animal. Sims said Peter's powers were special because the spider wanted to give them to him, and that other totem heroes and villains tended to come into his orbit for this reason — being Spider-Man made him (and Sims) part of a supernatural food chain. In Straczynski and Romita's arc, Sims helped Peter identify and face off against some totemic beings, and though he at one point went fully dark-side and planned to let Peter die, he ultimately sacrificed himself for the hero when he realized how much good the young lad had been doing for the world.

How will Madame Web make Sims a full-blown villain?

Weirdly, comic book Ezekiel Sims has never actually crossed paths in any significant way with the Madame Web character, which means the new Sony-Marvel movie is likely going pretty far off book. I suppose it's possible that Cassie's storyline will lift some elements from that of Cindy Moon, a.k.a. Silk, who Sims traps in a tower in "Amazing Spider-Man" in order to keep her safe from a vampire called Morlun (per Marvel). Ezekiel also acts as a mentor to Cindy, though, which is a bit at odds with his apparent violent streak in the new movie.

Another possibility (albeit a slim one) is that the Ezekiel Sims we see in "Madame Web" is actually another character in disguise. At one point in his original comics run, Sims seemingly appears to Peter Parker, but he's actually the Chameleon undercover in camouflage. We know the Chameleon is set to return in Sony's "Kraven the Hunter" next year, so that's another comic plot that could be repurposed here.

The most likely explanation for his seemingly antagonistic actions in the new film, though, comes straight from the mouth of Cassie herself: this version of Sims seems capable of seeing the future, and he apparently knows there's something wrong with the futures of the three potential Spider-Womans he's hunting. Still, even if his motivations are good, this version of Sims is destructive and dangerous, and unless the trailer is a huge fake-out (which it totally could be, given the genre's track record), he's been recast as a baddie this time around.

A younger Ezekiel crosses paths with Cassie

It's worth noting that this version of Sims is also a lot younger than the one who appears in most Marvel comics. Acclaimed actor Tahar Rahim, who's earned accolades for his turns in "A Prophet" and "The Looming Tower," among other things, is only 42 compared to the 57-year-old Marvel Comics version. This could mean we're meeting Sims early on in his superhero journey, as he's just discovering the power of totems. This could be a crucial inflection point at which to turn the hero into a villain, given that in the comics he did canonically steal the power of Anansi despite being told it wasn't actually his to take.

There is one other variant of Sims who appears in Marvel Comics, in 2014's "Edge of the Spider-Verse." This Sims is still older (he's literally nicknamed Old Man Spider), and he's still a good guy. On Earth-4, he helps take over for Spider-Man after the original hero is killed by Morlun, but he's killed soon after joining an army of Spider-People attempting to save the world. No matter which way you cut it, the comic book version of Ezekiel Sims is technically a hero — if a deeply imperfect one. Hopefully "Madame Web" has some tricks up its web-slinging sleeve, and its new version of Sims is at the very least an interesting and complex villain.

"Madame Web" hits theaters on February 14, 2024.

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