Marvel has reportedly signed up Yahya Abdul-Mateen II to lead its Wonder Man TV series.
According to Deadline (opens in new tab), Abdul-Mateen II has swapped DC for Marvel, with the Aquaman and Watchmen star landing the top job for the forthcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) Disney Plus show.
Curiously, Abdul-Mateen II’s Marvel hiring is the second trade between the two comic book supergiants, with MCU director James Gunn hired as co-head of DC Studios in late October. However, while Gunn has worked for Marvel and DC in recent years – he helms Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy film franchise, and directed both The Suicide Squad and Peacemaker’s HBO Max series – Wonder Man marks the first time Abdul-Mateen II will have worked with Marvel.
In fact, Abdul-Mateen II’s casting as Wonder Man is arguably the more surprising swap between Marvel and DC – or, rather, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), which owns DC comics. The Candyman actor has featured prominently in multiple WBD projects since 2018, including Aquaman, Watchmen, and The Matrix Resurrections. He’ll also reprise his role as Black Manta, the villain he played in Aquaman, in the DC superhero film sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom in March 2023.
Marvel hasn’t officially commented on Abdul-Mateen II’s casting. We’ve reached out to the studio and we’ll update this article if we hear back.
If Abdul Mateen II’s hiring is true, he’ll become the latest puzzle piece for the upcoming MCU show on Disney Plus, which was first announced in June. Andrew Guest is currently penning the scripts, while Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton will direct and executively produce the series. Ben Kingsley, who portrayed amateur actor Trevor Slattery in Iron Man 3 and Shang-Chi, is also set to appear in Wonder Man’s supposedly comedy-led project.
Analysis: Who is Wonder Man? What are his powers? And why is he tied to Wanda Maximoff?
Created by Marvel legends Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Don Heck, Wonder Man is a villain-turned-superhero who has major ties to other notable Marvel characters.
Making his comic book debut in The Avengers #9 in October 1964, Wonder Man – real name Simon Williams – is created by the supervillain known as Baron Zemo, who fans have seen in MCU movies Captain America: Civil War and Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Williams, whose family-run munitions factory falls on hard times due to increasing competition from Stark Industries – yep, good ol’ Tony is to blame for the creation of another Marvel villain – blames his fellow arms dealer for his plight, which includes jail time after Williams is caught embezzling funds. Bailed by Zemo and Enchantress and fueled by a quest for revenge, Williams agrees to become a superpowered pawn for Zemo and company. Undergoing ion-based experimentation, he becomes imbued with superhuman strength, durability, speed, stamina, reflexes, ionic energy manipulation, immortality, size alteration, and many other powers.
Infiltrating The Avengers’ compound, Wonder Man lures the super group into a trap, allowing Zemo’s Masters of Evil to capture them. However, Wonder Man has a change of heart, frees the Avengers, and fights alongside them against Zemo. Wonder Man is presumably killed but, unbeknownst to everyone, he’s simply entered a coma. When he eventually wakes up years later, Wonder Man becomes a mainstay of the West Coast Avengers’ line-up, forming a close bond with Beast from X-Men and even entering a romantic relationship with Scarlet Witch.
It’s this love triangle between Scarlet Witch (aka Wanda Maximoff), Vision, and Wonder Man that makes the latter’s forthcoming Disney Plus show such a fascinating proposition.
For one, the trio are intrinsically tied to one another. In the comics, Wonder Man is a key component in Vision’s creation – it’s Williams’ brainwaves that are used by Ultron to create the synthesized android in the first place. Later on, when Vision is dismantled and reconstructed as White Vision – who made his live-action MCU debut in WandaVision – Wanda seeks out Wonder Man with the aim of making him share his brain waves once more so White Vision can become whole again. However, Wonder Man refuses, because he’s developed his own feelings for Wanda. Hey, love triangles are messy.
How does all of this factor into Wonder Man’s MCU arrival? Despite seemingly perishing during Doctor Strange 2’s finale, many fans think Wanda isn’t dead. Meanwhile, White Vision is still in the MCU – the synthezoid flying off in WandaVision’s final episode after his memories were restored by the Vision that Wanda had created in her own mind.
White Vision is rumored to getting his own Disney Plus show or special presentation – thought to be titled Vision Quest (per Deadline (opens in new tab)) – so it’s possible that this project will tie into Wonder Man’s MCU series. If that’s the case, you can be sure that Wanda will feature/cameo in both shows, thus cementing a key Marvel comic book dynamic in the MCU.
For more Marvel-based content, read our Marvel movies in order guide. Alternatively, check out every Marvel Phase 5 project in the works, or learn everything you need to know about Black Panther: Wakanda Forever ahead of its November 11 release.