One of the most stalwart Avengers from the pages of Marvel Comics, Wonder Man, is finally making his way into the MCU. It was announced in The Hollywood Reporter that Shang-Chi director Destin Daniel Cretton is working together with Andrew Guest, producer of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Community, to bring the character to life in a new series. One assumes for Disney+. With Guest on board, we can safely assume this show will have a more comedic bent. Possibly similar to the tone for the upcoming She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
But you might be wondering who the heck Wonder Man even is, and if he’s somehow related to Wonder Woman. Well, she’s a DC hero and he’s a Marvel one, so that should answer your question. (Although the two did arm wrestle once in a crossover event, which Diana very likely won). Here’s the skinny on the so-called “Ionic Avenger,” and our theories on just what a Disney+ series about the adventures of Simon Williams might look like.
The Seventh Avenger
Wonder Man was actually one of the earliest heroes ever inducted into the Avengers. He first appeared in Avengers #9, way back in 1964, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Technically, he was the seventh member to be inducted into the team. However, he seemingly died in the very issue they introduced him, and he didn’t come back to life on a more permanent basis for another 12 years, in 1976. As for why he was sidelined for so long, Stan Lee insisted that DC Comics threatened legal action due to Wonder Woman. But once DC introduced a Power Girl after Marvel did Power Man (Luke Cage) first, he figured they had no legal legs to stand on. And thus, Wonder Man returned.
A Wonderous Origin Story
Simon Williams was a spoiled trust fund baby, heir to the company and fortune of Sandford Williams. But his bad business decisions ran Williams Innovations into the ground, and Simon blamed the company’s biggest rival, Stark Industries. He accepted an offer from the villainous Baron Zemo, to gain ionic powers in an experiment. These powers included super strength, invulnerability, and in later years, flight and energy projection.
Simon Williams would take on the identity of a new superhero named Wonder Man, and under Zemo’s orders, infiltrate Tony Stark’s team. All with the intent of destroying Iron Man and the Avengers from within. But Simon had a change of heart after serving with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Unable to betray his new teammates, he dies defending them from Zemo’s Masters of Evil. His criminal brother Eric Williams adopts the identity of the Grim Reaper, and seeks revenge on the Avengers, blaming them for Simon’s death. In the process, he became one of their worst enemies.
From Bad Guy to Essential Avenger
But of course, Simon wasn’t really dead. His body went into an “ionic coma,” during which time Hank Pym recorded Simon’s brain patterns. Patterns that would later form the basis for the mind of the android Vision. Eventually, Simon would emerge from his coma, and rejoin the Avengers in earnest. His brother Eric now hated Simon for siding with the Avengers after he became their enemy, cousing that relationship to fall apart. But Simon had a new sibling now, as he considered Vision his “brother,” since they shared brain patterns. He also made best friends with the X-Men’s Beast. He founded the West Coast Avengers, and began a long career in the movies, trading on his superhero status to become an actor. And this is where we think his TV series’ angle lies.
The Movie Star Superhero
So far, in the MCU, we’ve seen superheroes as celebrities, like Iron Man. In fact, all of the Avengers have public identities, with the exception of Spider-Man. But we’ve never seen one parlay that fame into getting jobs on the big screen or doing product endorsement. Wonder Man is the ultimate celebrity/hero, someone who has to juggle the ridiculousness of life as a movie star with actually helping people. Series like The Boys have dealt with this idea, but mostly in a satirical way. They’ve never really done a deep dive into what it means to be both hero and movie star. A Wonder Man series would be the perfect opportunity. It’s also perfect for a comedic angle, because we’d likely see exaggerated movie versions of MCU heroes.
Ties to Vision and the Scarlet Witch
It would also be the perfect opportunity to bring back the Vision, last seen as “white Vision” at the end of WandaVision. Perhaps, in an effort to regain a more human personality without the mind stone, he fuses with Simon’s ion-powered mind. This would be a way to tie the two characters together, in a way that is similar to the comics. And if the Scarlet Witch ever returns (which she will) it might make for a very interesting love triangle. Although the character of Simon Williams could definitely stand on his own. But could Marvel Studios resist incorporating two if their biggest assests, Wanda and Vision, into the proceedings? We doubt it.
Nathan Fillion as Wonder Man? (It Almost Happened)
Wonder Man very nearly made it into the MCU before, albeit in a minor way. There were Easter egg movie posters in the background of the Earth-based scenes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. And the face used for these posters was none other than Castle and Firefly actor Nathan Fillion. But those scenes were cut from the final film. Perhaps even back then, Kevin Feige had other things in mind for the Superstar Avenger. Although we still love the casting idea of Fillion as Wonder Man. Anyone who saw him play Captain Hammer in Doctor Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog knows how well he can portray an obnoxiously self-involved (yet kinda charming) superhero. Whoever lands the part, we know Wonder Man is going to have a big part to play in the MCU going forward. Only fitting for a character both hero and Hollywood star.