Like several actors before him — Idris Elba, Ryan Reynolds, and Tom Hardy come to mind — Yahya Abdul-Mateen II is switching sides in the eternal war between DC and Marvel, as the Aquaman star is in talks to play Simon Williams in a series adaptation of the Marvel comic book Wonder Man.
Destin Daniel Cretton (Shang-Chi) and Andrew Guest (Community) are spearheading the Disney+ show, as Guest will serve as head writer, while Cretton serves as executive producer — and he might even direct an episode or two. The series is also set in Los Angeles, so don’t be surprised if local attorney Jennifer Walters (Tatiana Maslany), aka She-Hulk, makes an appearance at some point, even if it’s only a brief one.
First introduced in 1964, Wonder Man is one of Marvel’s oldest characters, and though he initially appeared as a villain, he was reconceived as a hero in the late ’70s. The character has also traditionally been depicted as white, so this is another smart example of colorblind casting from Marvel (Nick Fury was also white in the comics), as Abdul-Mateen is a rising star in Hollywood, which just happens to be the industry in which Simon Williams works. The character is an actor/stuntman who traditionally wears a red jacket and shades by day, but by night, he fights crime.
In the ’80s, the character even became a founding member of the West Coast Avengers, which feels like a storyline for which Marvel’s latest development moves are planting the seed. Wonder Man also has ties to Vision (Paul Bettany) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), the latter of whom he even developed feelings for in the comics after Vision’s dismantling. The two men shared a close bond — including ionic energy and brainwaves.
It’s unclear whether we’ll see either Vision or Wanda in the Wonder Man series, but one actor who is expected to show up is Sir Ben Kingsley, who plays the actor Trevor Slattery in the MCU, which by the looks of it, appears to be Hollywood-bound.
Abdul-Mateen played Black Manta in Aquaman and will reprise that villainous role in the upcoming sequel Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, which is slated to hit theaters on Christmas Day 2023. He also played Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen and a young Morpheus in The Matrix Resurrections, while his other recent credits include Ambulance, Candyman, and Aaron Sorkin‘s The Trial of the Chicago 7. He’s represented by WME and M88, and ScreenGeeks broke the news of his casting.