Sony's Madame Web movie is shaping up to be the most Spider-y of the studio's Spider-Man spin-off films with three Spider-Women appearing in the first trailer, and even an evil Spider-Man as its apparent villain who is seemingly identified as Ezekiel Sims, an important figure from Spider-Man comics with a connection to the Spider-Verse.
But is all as it seems with Ezekiel Sims in the Madame Web movie? And is that him in the dark spider-suit?
In Marvel Comics, Ezekiel plays a very different role as more of a mentor and ally to Peter Parker, with secret, mystical knowledge about the nature of Spider-Man that calls into question everything Peter knows about his place in the Marvel Universe - and even the so-called Spider-Verse.
Introduced back in 2001's Amazing Spider-Man #30 by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist John Romita, Jr., Ezekiel is a mysterious older man who discovers Spider-Man's true identity by hiring numerous private investigators to track him. After revealing himself to Peter, Ezekiel also reveals that, like Peter, he too has spider-powers.
Unlike Peter, however, Ezekiel gained his powers on purpose through a magical ritual, tying himself into the power of the so-called Spider-Totem, a mystical spider-entity who, according to Ezekiel, empowers all Spider-heroes across the Multiverse.
Ezekiel reveals this connection to Peter Parker, raising the question of whether the spider that bit Peter gave him powers because it was irradiated, or if it was attempting to pass spider-powers on to Peter before it died of radiation.
Whichever it is, the result is the same: Peter is now tied into all the other Spider-Totems, and with this new awareness also comes the danger of those who hunt Totems, specifically a particularly malevolent energy vampire named Morlun.
With Morlun hunting Peter, he must turn to Ezekiel for help. Ezekiel eventually gives his life to defeat the villain - although both Ezekiel and Morlun would eventually return, though Ezekiel would also die again (apparently permanently this time). And in between, Peter would discover one of Ezekiel's darkest secrets.
As it turns out, Peter isn't the only Spider-Totem who gained powers on the day he was bitten as a teenager. As revealed in 2014's Amazing Spider-Man #1 by writer Dan Slott and artist Humberto Ramos, Peter's classmate Cindy Moon was also imbued with spider-powers on that day. But unlike Peter, she was locked away in a vault by Ezekiel, who kept her there for years for fear that Morlun would sense the power of the connection between Peter and Cindy.
The thing is, Peter Parker is not the kind of guy to leave a young woman locked up alone for his benefit, so he frees her. This leads to Cindy coming into her own as the hero Silk - but also to Peter and Cindy pursuing an instantly intense romantic relationship spurred on by their mystical connection as Spider-Totems.
But the kindling of their connection also summons Morlun, and not just Morlun, but his entire family, the Inheritors, who embark across the Multiverse to kill all the Spider-Totems in existence, culminating in the landmark 2014 event Spider-Verse, which has almost become a franchise all its own in the years since.
So what might this mean for Madame Web? It's hard not to imagine there will be some connection to the concept of the Spider-Verse, or at least the idea of Spider-Totems, especially since the movie's concept bears a strong resemblance to the comic Web-Warriors, in which several Spider-Women and Spider-Girls teamed up for adventures across the Spider-Verse.
And this also raises the question of whether Ezekiel is actually the villain of the movie, given the role he plays in comic books as more of a hero (albeit with sometimes complicated and questionable methods). Will the true villain wind up being Morlun? And if so, are we on the verge of a full-on live action cinematic Spider-Verse to go with the animated franchise?
We'll find out when Madame Web releases in February.
The original Spider-Verse is one of the best Spider-Man stories of all time.