April 19, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Characters Case File #472: Ezekiel Simms

So, I guess this guy is Madame Web's archenemy now.

The recent Madame Web movie produced more questions than answers, starting with “Why did this get made?” and “Who thought this was a good idea?”

But there’s another one too, one I had when I saw the movie:  why was Ezekiel Simms the villain?  I didn’t think he was that bad…

See, Ezekiel Simms, while not exactly a hero, never struck me at that villainous either.  He wasn’t into world domination or anything.  He was mostly greedy and self-centered.  Heck, he went out as something of a hero.  Sort of.  Allow me to explain.  Simms first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #30 in June of 2001 as written by J. Michael Straczynski and drawn by John Romita Jr., Simms was an older man who had gone through a mystical ritual to grant himself spider-like powers similar to Spider-Man’s, and when Peter Parker started swinging around the city, he hired a half dozen private detectives to each gather bits and pieces of information which he used to figure out Peter Parker was the new Spider-Man.  Then, later on, he approached Peter and asked him a crucial question:  did Peter gain his powers from the spider or the radiation?

Honestly, that’s an interesting take on things.  See, Ezekial posited that Peter was the next in a long line of mystically-enhanced beings known as the Spider-Totem.  That meant he got the power from the spider, not the radiation, and that Peter’s “spider-ness” made him something of a target for the various animal-themed baddies that kept coming after him.

Now, if Ezekiel had similar powers to Peter, to the point where the two men were each immune to the other’s spider-sense, what was Ezekiel doing with his powers while Peter was stopping bad guys?  He was making money, obviously!  What good is a bit of spider-enhanced ESP if you can’t use it to play the stock market, make smart investments, and found a large company.  Oh, and then he can scale walls and stuff.

Well, this guy doesn’t seem too bad.  He’s not exactly the sort of guy Peter would be with all that “great power/great responsibility” stuff, but he does clue in Peter to the threat of this guy Morlun, a vampric Inheritor who feeds off totems.  Peter does figure out that guy’s weakness, and the Inheritors become more of a problem later, but why was Ezekiel the chosen bad guy for Madame Web?

Well, he was basically setting Peter up.  See, Ezekiel was the real spider-totem, and he was essentially using Peter as bait anytime some supernatural thing came looking for him.

Huh.  Not cool.  So, he’s a villain?  Well, he would be, but he realized the error of his ways and sacrificed his life to save Peter from a giant spider-thing.  Ezekiel had realized that Peter was the real deal, he hadn’t done a damn thing to help anyone but himself.  So, less a villain and more just a selfish jerk.

Why, then, is he the bad guy in Madame Web?  I suppose I could also ask why actor Tahar Rahim’s dialogue all seemed to be the worst ADR I have seen outside something that got mocked on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

I guess the only real answer is someone had to be the villain, and he was available.