Ever since Vision (Paul Bettany) was introduced to the MCU during 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, the fans of Marvel Comic Universe have been wondering when Simon Williams, the man whose mental engrams were used to create Vision, would make an on-screen appearance. Well, back in June, Disney and Marvel announced another television show for the MCU universe, which centers around Simon Williams, also known as Wonder Man.
The show is still in pre-production at this point, with the cast and crew being assembled, with various reports claiming that Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is the leading actor that will bring Simon Williams to life. Abdul-Mateen is a well-versed superhero/villain performer, considering his role in HBO’s Watchmen and his appearance as Black Manta in Aquaman, so there’s 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 so far. However, that wasn’t really the truth, at least at that point, considering Wonder Man didn’t survive through the end of the said issue of the comic book. His origin story places him as an inheritor of Williams Innovations, a weapons manufacturer who went under partly due to Simon’s lack of managerial skills and experience.
The other reason was the rise of Stark Industries, as the next big weapon and munitions manufacturer. Looking to save his father’s business, Simon embezzled some money from the company for illegal investment purposes, but the plan backfired when his board of directors learned about the embezzlement and criminal ties. Simon Williams was eventually brought to trial and found guilty. He was bailed out by Amora the Enchantress and brought to Baron Zemo.
Williams agreed to become a test subject for Zemo’s enhancement treatment based on ionic rays, 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 given serums that only Zemo could provide. 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.
However, when that plan came to its execution stage, Williams had a change of heart and sided with the Avengers. Deprived of Zemo’s life-prolonging treatment, Wonder Man succumbed to the aforementioned side effects. However, he wasn’t truly dead; he entered a deathlike coma, and his body was recovered by his brother Eric. Eric took the identity of Grim Reaper and tried using Simon’s body to bribe Vision and trick him into attacking the Avengers. Vision played along with 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 resuscitate his brother, but as a mindless zombie. The Avengers, who were previously unable to cure Wonder Man, could cure zombie-like states, eventually helping Williams regain consciousness and go on with his life. He continued living in the Avengers mansion for a while, helping the team on their missions. But he eventually left the Avengers and became a SHIELD agent.
Following the events of Secret Invasion, which is also receiving its television show, Wonder Man went into retirement, lamenting his tenure as an Avenger due to all the violence associated with upholding justice. Simon Williams seems like a logical progression for the MCU following the events of WandaVision and the introduction of the mind-wiped 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 would introduce the theory that Williams’ coding prowess or actual brain imprint was utilized to build Jarvis and, ultimately, Vision, which would give him the crucial connection that the two characters require.
Another option is to establish the pair’s kinship and tie him back to Stark, something the MCU enjoys doing. Another possibility is that the Wonder Man series might be a historical drama set in the past to introduce the character and his life before joining the MCU. That may 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 present MCU.
Of course, the number of alternative solutions is endless, and the MCU can basically pick their own big reveals and origin stories at this point. But some things are certain. Being an experienced actor for DC and what is now shaping up to be Marvel, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is more likely to offer a fantastic acting performance and to 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 that it won’t be hitting our screens until 2024.