The following describes Wonder Man’s origins in the comics, and contains spoilers for some of his history.
Ever since Vision was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe during Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel Comics readers have wondered when Simon Williams, alias Wonder Man, will join. the Disney+ series in our territory) to the fight. That question began to be answered with the announcement that Shang-Chi’s director, Destin Daniel Cretton to direct a Wonder Man series on Disney+. And, in equally exciting news, it looks like Yahya Abdul-Mateen II will be cast as Simon Williams. This is a very smart choice that will be very interesting for viewers who have seen HBO’s Watchmen, where Abdul-Mateen II took on the role of Doctor Manhattan. He is a seasoned actor in superhero movies as he is also the villain known as Black Manta in Aquaman. But we are here to talk about Simon Williams, about who he is and how he is going to play in the future of the MCU.
Who is Wonder Man?
Readers met Wonder Man in the cover of issue 9 of The Avengers from 1964. The Technicolor cover featured the menacing heads of Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, the Wasp, and Giant-Man gazing at their new super-powered foe with a banner that proclaimed, “Marvel Comics is proud to present…Wonder Man, the new and most dynamic surprise character of the world famous House of Ideas”. It was a huge promise, especially since Wonder Man wouldn’t survive to the end of the issue. Created by Baron Zemo deep within his lair in the Amazon Rainforest, Simon Williams was a normal man, kidnapped and bombarded with “the most powerful ion beams” that gave him super strength and apparent invincibility. The reason for these mad scientist antics? Install Simon (now known as Wonder Man) into the Avengers, posing as a hero. Though Wonder Man goes along with the plan for a while, he eventually decides to help the Avengers defeat Zemo. It is a noble choice, but one that costs him his life. Zemo had secretly poisoned him and, once betrayed, refused to give Simon the antidote. Rest in peace, Wonder Man.
Then, how did wonder man come back? And why does he have a spin-off if that was his only appearance? Well, he soon became a vital part in creating a famous Marvel hero in a moment that would impact Wonder Man and the Avengers for decades.
How is Wonder Man connected to Vision and Scarlet Witch?
Simon Williams didn’t return until four years and 51 issues later in Avengers #58. But it wasn’t in the classic comic book style. He was not resurrected nor was it revealed that he had been alive the entire time. He wasn’t even a clone. Instead, in the famous story Even an Android Can Cry, by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, George Klein, and Sam Rosen, readers learn that is a key part of the origin of the synthezoid known as Vision. As the Iron Man-led team tries to figure out who Vision is and where he came from, they make a shocking discovery. The evil villain known as Ultron stole something priceless from them: the “memory tape” they made of Wonder Man’s brain. And he used it to create Vision. Yes, unlike the MCU where he is created through the magic of Thor and the brains of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner, in the original Vision comics he is an android with a computerized version of Simon Williams’ brain. That might have been the end of the strange saga, but Wonder Man wasn’t finished.
The real return of Simon Williams was conceived in 1972, when Avengers #102 revealed that he wasn’t dead, but was actually only in a comatose state from Avengers #9. Unfortunately for Simon, it wasn’t the Avengers, but Kang, who resurrected him in Avengers #131 as part of his team of villains known as the Legion of the Unliving. After a couple more revivals, Wonder Man finally joined the Avengers proper in 1977, where his connection to the Vision became even more vital.
The couple struggled to accept their unconventional relationship, but after years together they began to see each other as strange but supportive brothers. Unfortunately, that couldn’t last, as Vision’s memory was wiped by an evil corporation, leaving him without a personality. It was then that his desperate and loving wife Wanda decided to ask Simon to donate his brainprint back to Vision., allowing him to restore it, but he was understandably unwilling. His reasons went deeper than superficial discomfort, as he had grown to love Wanda, though it wasn’t until years later that she reciprocated. It was a passionate romance, but it ultimately ended because of Wanda’s love and her inability to let go of Vision, her one true love.
Wonder Man’s powers
Like many of our favorite comic characters, the answer has changed over the years. As we have mentioned, his original powers were super strength and invincibility. He gained these powers thanks to Zemo’s initial ionic experiments, which would later add another layer to his abilities. After one of his many deaths, Wonder Man came back to life apparently composed of pure energy, although the truth is more complex.
Sometimes, Wonder Man has claimed to be made of ionic energy, but the more appropriate description is that his flesh and bones are permeated with it.. His unique anatomy allows him to regenerate from injuries, create solid material from energy, and is even capable of manipulating electromagnetic fields. Basically, his origins are now the source of his most unusual powers. Other than that, he has some classic superhero abilities: flight, invulnerability, bulletproof skin, leaping from tall buildings in a single lunge, extreme agility, and super reflexes, as well as latent powers like teleportation and shapeshifting that Wonder Man uses it more rarely.
Wait, Wonder Man wasn’t an actor?
Yes. Aside from his connection to Vision, the other best known aspect of Simon is his attempt to be an actor. During the 1970s, Wonder Man lived in Avengers Mansion and decided that he had to make it on his own. After Captain America tried to downsize the team in Avengers #211, Simon decided to leave to pursue his acting career with good old Hercules. From then on he had a stage as an actor, which led him to become a Hollywood stuntman thanks to his near-invincibility. That part of his life is chronicled in both West Coast Avengers Vol. 1 and his solo series, Wonder Man. It also seems like a very likely inspiration for his Disney+ series..
What role will Wonder Man have in the MCU?
Following the events of Scarlet Witch and Vision and the introduction of White Vision, Simon Williams seems like the natural next step for the MCU.. The big question, though, is how the MCU will reimagine the villain-turned-hero for his debut series and the franchise as a whole. As we have explored here, there are many options. The best option would be to follow a beloved tradition of the Universe: Simon Williams could have been an employee or rival of Tony Stark. The latter seems likely, as in the 1980s comics his story was expanded to include a backstory pitting him against Stark Industries as a wealthy competitor of Stark’s.
In any case, the MCU is likely to introduce the idea that Williams’ coding skills or literal brainprinting were used to create Jarvis and eventually Vision, which would give him the vital connection that the characters need. It would be an easy way to establish the brotherhood between the two, as well as connect him back to Stark, which is something the MCU loves to do. Another option is that the Wonder Man series is potentially a period piece, set in the past to establish the character and his life before he joined the MCU. This could be a good way to introduce his career in Hollywood, as well as letting the public know about Wonder Man before he joins the current MCU. It could also be an easy way to end up with Williams in a coma, ready to be awakened by the new great villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Considering the comics and the schedule of the Wonder Man series, It’s hard not to imagine that Kang will play a role in Simon’s main introduction in the MCU.. The Unliving Legion could be a really cool thing to add. Or we could see Kang as a scientist being the one to find White Vision, connecting the new synth with Simon. But we think it’s more likely that Simon will establish himself in the series before being introduced in the main MCU, where he will tangle with a resurrected Scarlet Witch and become heavily involved with White Vision and the Avengers. By the way, in the comics Wanda and Wonder Man break up during the Kang Dynasty comic that gives the title to the next Avengers movie.
But we’ll have to wait for the long-awaited MCU series to hit Disney+ to find out.