Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is moving from his DC roles as Black Manta and Doctor Manhattan to Marvel’s Wonder Man, starring in a Disney+ series.
No stranger to genre roles, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has also headlined in movies such as Candyman and as the younger version of Morpheus in The Matrix Resurrections. However, the role of Simon Williams/Wonder Man is a departure from the actor’s previous roles, as the part-time Avenger with ionic powers is more happy-go-lucky than his prior stoic portrayals.
Check out what has been revealed so far about the Disney Plus Wonder Man series.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is already in active talks with Marvel Studios to star as Wonder Man.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) October 31, 2022
The series will be aired on the Disney+ streaming service, with Destin Daniel Cretton to serve as exeutive producer. Cretton previously directed Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Confirmed to be joining Cretton in the production is Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Community writer-producer Andrew Guest. Guest will be the head writer. Plus, Cretton will likely be directing one or more episodes of the series. Given that Cretton is already tapped to direct Avengers: The Kang Dynasty, one can assume the Wonder Man series might have a direct tie-in to that film.
Aside from Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, the only other actor confirmed to be appearing is Sir Ben Kingsley. Kingsley will be reprising his role as the faux Mandarin and down-on-his-luck actor Trevor Slattery. Given that Wonder Man’s alter ego of Simon Williams is canonically a movie star and stuntman from his Marvel Comics roots, the Disney+ series might be exploring the entertainment industry in the MCU.
It should be noted that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is not the first actor that will portray Simon Williams. In a deleted scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Nathan Fillion appeared as Simon Williams in background posters for fictional movies within the MCU. Fillion shared a photo of his Simon Williams playing Arkon (another Marvel character) on his Instagram.
Later, James Gunn explained why Fillion's cameo was removed from the final cut of the film through his Facebook account.
Wonder Man first appeared in Avengers #9 (October 1964). As Simon Williams, he was a gifted electrical engineer that inherited Williams Inovations, a rival of Stark Industries owned by Tony Stark/Iron Man. But after losing business from Tony Stark’s more advanced technologies and taking his corrupt brother Eric’s advice to embezzle funds from his own company, Simon was recruited into the Masters of Evil.
Becoming a test subject of Baron Zemo’s experimental ionic ray process, Simon gained superhuman powers and infiltrated the Avengers as Wonder Man. Having a change of heart, Simon sacrificed himself to save the Avengers from a trap. However, Wonder Man actually survived and merely went into suspended animation. During his coma-like state, Hank Pym used Simon’s brainwave patterns to create the android Vision.
Wonder Man later revived and rejoined the Avengers as a reserve member. He would become an actor and stuntman, eventually becoming an action star that performed his own stunts. Of course, being nearly indestructible and having super-strength helped him immensely in his career. He would also be entangled in a love triangle with Wanda Maximoff aka The Scarlet Witch and The Vision. Could the Wonder Man series explore this and perhaps cross over with the planned Vision series?
On a different note, with Yahya Abdul-Mateen II taking on the role of Simon Williams, what will this mean for his role as Black Manta in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom? The DC Universe movie is set to release on December 25, 2023. However, filming for it is already concluded, which may mean Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is available once Wonder Man’s production is underway.
The Wonder Man series on Disney+ has yet to receive an official release date.