Ever since Vision (Paul Bettany) was introduced to the MCU during the 2015s Avengers: Age of Ultron, fans of the Marvel Comic Universe have been wondering when Simon Williams, the man whose mental engrams were used to create Vision, would appear on screen. Well, back in June, Disney and Marvel announced another TV show for the MCU universe, which centers around Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man.
The show is still in pre-production at this point, with cast and crew being assembled, with various reports claiming that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is the lead actor to bring Simon Williams to life. Abdul-Mateen is a seasoned superhero/villain performer, considering his role on HBO’s Watchmen and his appearance as Black Manta in Aquaman, so there is very little doubt that his performance as Williams will be strong. We’re actually interested in who Williams, aka Wonder Man, is.
Well, fans of Marvel Comics first met Wonder Man in 1964’s issue of Avengers #9, whose headlines promoted Wonder Man as the freshest and most dynamic character they had introduced thus far. However, that wasn’t really the truth, at least at the time, considering Wonder Man didn’t survive through the end of said issue of the comic. His origin story places him as the heir to Williams Innovations, a weapons manufacturer that went under in part due to Simon’s lack of leadership skills and experience.
The second reason was the rise of Stark Industries, as the next major arms and ammunition manufacturer. Simon was looking to save his father’s business and embezzled some money from the company for illegal investment purposes, but the plan backfired when his board learned of the embezzlement and criminal ties. Simon Williams was eventually tried and found guilty. He was rescued by the sorceress Amora and brought to Baron Zemo.
Williams agreed to become a test subject for Zemo’s enhancement treatment based on ionic beams, after which Williams developed superhuman strength and durability. However, his newly acquired powers were “borrowed” because one of the side effects of the treatment was that it altered his metabolism. He would die within the week unless he got the serum that only Zemo could give. Not wanting to die and wanting to get back at Tony Stark, whose success caused his downfall, Williams agreed to Zemo’s plan to destroy the Avengers.
But when that plan came to the implementation stage, Williams changed his mind and sided with the Avengers. Deprived of Zemo’s life-extending treatment, Wonder Man succumbed to the aforementioned side effects. However, he was not truly dead; he went into a death-like coma, and his body was recovered by his brother Eric. Eric assumed the identity of the Grim Reaper and tried to use Simon’s body to bribe Vision and trick him into attacking the Avengers. Vision played along with the Reaper’s plans, helping the Avengers finally apprehend him.
However, the Avengers couldn’t get to the Reaper in time, and the criminal mastermind found a way to revive his brother, but as a mindless zombie. The Avengers, previously unable to cure Wonder Man, were able to cure zombie-like conditions, eventually helping Williams regain consciousness and move on with his life. He continued to live in the Avengers mansion for a while, helping the team with their missions. But he eventually left the Avengers and became a SHIELD agent.
After the events of Secret Invasion, which also receives its own TV show, Wonder Man retired and regretted his tenure as an Avenger due to all the violence associated with upholding justice. Simon Williams seems like a logical progression for the MCU after the events of WandaVision and the introduction of the obliterated White Vision.
The key question is how the MCU can reinvent the former villain as a hero for both his solo series and the larger franchise. For example, it’s conceivable that the MCU will introduce the theory that Williams’ coding ability or actual brain imprint was used to build Jarvis and eventually Vision, which would give him the crucial connection that the two characters require.
Another option is to establish the couple’s kinship and link him back to Stark, something the MCU likes to do. Another possibility is that the Wonder Man series could be a historical drama set in the past to introduce the character and his life before he joined the MCU. It could be a perfect way to introduce his Hollywood comedic hi-jinks and give viewers a chance to get to know Wonder Man before he joins the current MCU.
Of course, the number of alternative solutions is endless, and the MCU can basically choose its own big reveals and origin stories at this point. But some things are certain. As a seasoned actor for DC and what now appears to be Marvel, it is more likely that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II will offer a stellar acting performance and brilliantly usher in Wonder Man for the MCU. The recently announced Wonder Man series will likely start filming sometime in early 2023, so it’s safe to assume it won’t hit screens until 2024.